Siting and Erecting a Greenhouse

Choosing a suitable position for the greenhouse often seems to divide the garden “experts”, with some suggesting the ridge of the roof should run north-to-south, while others favour aligning it in an east-west direction. In reality, it tends to make little difference. While the greenhouse needs to be sited so that it is able to catch as much of the southerly light as possible, there are more important things than the points of the compass to consider.

Choosing the Site

One of the main considerations is the availability of light – wherever it is coming from! Trees, walls, fences and buildings, either yours or your neighbours, can prove a problem, especially in the spring and autumn when the sun is relatively low in the sky. Any site which would shade your greenhouse for much of the day during these times of the year is clearly a non-starter. However, it is worth bearing in mind that deciduous trees are not much of a problem in early spring – when they have no leaves – and can be a positive benefit in summer by providing shade. When the greenhouse runs in a generally east-to-west direction, the distribution of light is usually fairly even, while a north-south arrangement calls for the more careful allocation of greenhouse space according to individual plant’s need for light. In many ways, however, it can often end up as a bit of a case of swings and roundabouts – with both arrangements having their own benefits and disadvantages and neither being a clear winner.

Accessibility has to be one of the single most important factors in deciding where any greenhouse should be positioned and needs to feature in the planning process from the start. Inevitably, convenience plays a large part in this, since a greenhouse in some distant corner of the garden will never get the sort of regular visits or maintenance it needs. There are also practical matters to take into account – such as the availability of electricity and water.

If lighting or heating the greenhouse in the colder months forms part of the plan, then being fairly close to mains electricity is a good idea, while having to reel hoses down on a daily basis to provide water is something soon tired of – no matter how dedicated the gardener!

Erecting the Greenhouse

Almost all greenhouses are designed with DIY-assembly in mind and usually come with a full set of instructions to guide you through the process. Most manufacturers have good after sales support too, in the event you do run into a snag – and if you really cannot face the prospect of putting it up yourself, many offer an installation service or can recommend someone who does.

If you do intend to do the job yourself, irrespective of the make or model of your new greenhouse, there are one or two things to bear in mind which should help the whole thing go as smoothly as possible. Perhaps the most important of these is to allocate enough time to the task – it is not something you can rush. The instructions should give you an idea of the likely time it should take – and how many people you are going to need to help you – so make sure that you plan accordingly. Before the day arrives, the base needs to be prepared and checked for level – if the frame is squint, trying to glaze it will be a nightmare! It is also a very good idea to have carefully read through the instructions a couple of times, especially if it is your first time assembling a kit this big.

The instructions are usually very comprehensive and accurate, so provided you follow them step by step and handle the glass carefully – this is not a job for a windy day! – there should seldom be too much in the way of problems, once construction does get underway.

Your new greenhouse should have years of useful life ahead of it, so getting its siting right at the outset and making sure it is built properly is enormously important. Then, with the preparatory work done and the framework neatly built on a square and level base, all that remains is to glaze it and anchor it down before you can begin to reap the rewards of growing under glass.

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