A short guide on where to locate your greenhouse

So you want a greenhouse to grow your crop. A simple enough decision, or so it would seem, but in actuality there are many factors to consider, not the least is where to put your greenhouse.

Sun exposure is usually of paramount importance, but depending upon the plant, afternoon shade may also be a factor in greenhouse placement.

The greenhouse should be built on level ground and with good soil if you’re planning on planting in the ground but this is less important if you intend to use grow bags, pots or raised beds containing compost.

The site for the greenhouse determines not only what type of structure will work best but also the direction and intensity of sun it will get. This determines what types of plants you can grow.

Consider protection of the greenhouse from storm damage, from neighbourhood hoodlums or from those that may be interested in the products you grow in the greenhouse (and bear in mind that some plants do smell - particularly when in flower!)

It can be useful to use high walls, tall hedges and trees as a windbreak, provided they’re a suitable distance to provide shelter without blocking light. Wind chill factor can hugely reduce the interior temperature of your greenhouse so an effective barrier keeps plants warm and prevents wind damage during storms.

Other considerations for greenhouse placement

Do you need access to a water or electrical source? Remember to consider these factors when situating the greenhouse. Depending upon sun exposure, the greenhouse may need additional heating.

Some greenhouses can be placed against the door, window or basement of the house, which will allow you to use some excess heat from the home. 

Generally, the best spot for a greenhouse is on the south or southeast side of the house in a sunny area that gets the most sun from autumn through winter (November to February in most places). If this option doesn’t exist, the next best location for the greenhouse is the east side. The third best option for a greenhouse is the southwest or west side. The north side is the last resort and the least optimal site for a greenhouse.

Try to situate the greenhouse lengthwise from north to south rather than east to west. This position provides the structure with more light and less shade. While unobstructed sunlight is important, afternoon shade may be as important depending upon the types of plants grown and the time of year they are grown. Of course, situating the greenhouse near trees or bushes may result in leaves, sap and sticky honeydew littering the exterior of the structure, so that should be a consideration as well.

Lastly, avoid building the structure at the base of a slope where cold air collects and is prone to frost. Be sure the area is level and the ground well-draining.

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