Backyard Greenhouse Basics

Having a greenhouse in one’s own backyard is a hobby that will provide hours of enjoyment -or work, depending on how the challenges of gardening are viewed. For those with dreams of spending days blissfully working in the garden or greenhouse they may be in for a rude awakening once the greenhouse kit arrives and they realize the amount of work that goes into maintaining a successful greenhouse.

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Like most hobbies there can be moments of sheer frustration but the reward can definitely outweigh the effort. Knowing the basics of owning a greenhouse can save the gardener multiple trips to the garden store and save many unsuspecting plants’ lives opticlimate . Before the beginner greenhouse owner wastes money on plants that will die if the greenhouse is not set up properly, he or she should take the time to learn a little about the ins and outs of greenhouses.

Greenhouses create mini ecosystems. Much like the larger system we know as our planet, heat from the sun becomes trapped and gives rise to the warm temperatures needed for plants to grow. The sunlight, heat, moisture, nutrient, and gas levels must all be within certain ranges to keep the plants healthy and growing. A backyard greenhouse will need things like sunlight, ventilation, heaters, and an irrigation system for it to be a success.

Let’s start with the creation of the greenhouse itself. The site of the greenhouse should be a sunny location in the yard. The plants need the light to grow and to keep the climate within warm enough. The size of the greenhouse will depend on the gardener’s budget. It’s easy to fill up a greenhouse so buying as large as one can afford would be wise- it’s hard to expand or put an addition onto a greenhouse.

For the most part no foundation is needed, but if the greenhouse is intended to be a permanent structure then a gravel floor is nice. Concrete or pavers can also be used, but a means for drainage will be needed- so gravel is usually the best bet. Also if concrete is used make sure the floor has some texture as it will often be wet and slippery.

Greenhouse kits make it easy to build the actual structure. Getting the measurements and dimensions correct when building the greenhouse from scratch can make for a frustrating weekend or two. The greenhouse needs to be properly sealed and able to withstand the local weather. Kits can be bought online and come in several sizes.

If the local weather doesn’t include snow then cheaper polyethylene film greenhouses will do just fine. If snow and extreme weather take place during certain times of the year then a polycarbonate greenhouse will be a better choice. Most of the polycarbonate greenhouse kits have frames that allow the panels to snap right in making assembly a breeze.

Once the greenhouse is assembled the work is not over yet. Those who live in climates with cold winters will need to provide heat during those months so that the temperature inside the greenhouse never goes below forty degrees or so- depending on the type of plants being grown. Low cost heating systems with thermostats can be installed or for those looking to reduce costs even more; a good old-fashioned thermometer, space heater and daily monitoring can also work.

Ventilation is also key to maintaining the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the greenhouse. Without ventilation the air can become stagnant and the temperatures can become too hot. Those using space heaters must be extra diligent about ventilation. Most greenhouses have vents built in, but a fan will also help keep air moving.

Irrigation is another critical component to a greenhouse. It’s true that a hose can be dragged in and out every day to water the plants, but the ease of installing a drip system or a mini sprinkler system makes it seem silly to deal with a hose. The systems can easily be setup on a timer and the amount of water each plant receives can be precisely controlled.

In the warm summer months sometimes a fan and adequate ventilation won’t do the trick. Greenhouse shades are available to help cool the structure during the hottest hours of the day. Those who have a larger budget can always spring for an air conditioner, but the cost of cooling a see-through structure can be astronomical even if it’s a small space.

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