Flooring is a somewhat dull but important aspect of greenhouse building and maintenance. Some greenhouse kits may include a specific flooring type. However, the vast majority that are sold only include the frame and glazing. In some ways this is actually useful, as it allows greater flexibility and choice in where you site your greenhouse, and how you use it.
The type of flooring your choose for your greenhouse can have a significant effect on what you grow, and how you grow it. The type of flooring you choose may also serve as the foundation to the greenhouse, and as such should be a major consideration if you’re considering changing or erecting your first greenhouse.
Consider Your Needs
Your flooring should suit your growing needs and preferences, taking into account how often you use the greenhouse, and your preferred use. For instance, if your greenhouse is predominantly used as a nursery for propagation, then the chances are that you won’t need any areas of bare soil to grow plants in; a solid floor where you can store pots and equipment is probably the most preferable solution.
If you use your greenhouse on an almost daily basis, the materials you use for flooring will be especially important. You’ll need a flooring solution that’s durable, easy to clean and maintain. This is probably why the most common flooring type to be found in greenhouses are concrete slabs. These are fairly cheap and can easily be laid onto a bed of sand, and are pretty easy to clean and maintain. The slabs can be laid in such a way that they not only provide a basic, clean flooring, but also form a solid foundation for the greenhouse to rest on.
However, a fully concreted floor may not be every greenhouse owner’s idea of a perfect flooring solution. But by laying a central ‘path’ of slabs in the greenhouse, you can create two soil borders for direct planting. The soil can easily be fertilised and conditioned, and the warmth of being under glass means that tender plants can easily thrive if watered regularly.
If budget is an issue, gravel is always a great flooring solution for a greenhouse. It provides a dry surface that will easily drain after a watering session. It can be laid directly onto bare earth, or into a bed of builder’s sand. Other budget-friendly ways to find materials for your greenhouse flooring is to pick up garden slabs, paving stones or gravel for free by checking your local classified ads, or recycling schemes such as Freecycle.
All flooring is functional, but some flooring types are obviously much more aesthetically pleasing than others. For instance, larger ‘permanent’ glasshouse structures – especially those built within the past two hundred years or so – may incorporate ornamental grating systems into their flooring. Aside from the aesthetic qualities, this approach may form part of a more complex under floor heating, ventilation or drainage system. Of course, contemporary ornamental floor grating will most likely prove to be an extremely expensive flooring solution, and as such is probably limited to the floors of grand orangeries and well-to-do glasshouses.
When choosing your flooring for your greenhouse, it’s perhaps best to consider function above aesthetic qualities. Functional flooring can be easy to keep (especially important for keeping pests and disease under control), is more often than not neat and tidy to boot.