Planning for a Hobby Greenhouse: Size and Location Matter


Backyard gardening is experiencing a renaissance, and many home owners who would not consider such an endeavor in the past are now investing their time and energy in backyard gardening. The reasons for the increase in gardening interest are many and range from poor selections at local nurseries, a desire to enhance the home’s “curb appeal,” and a need for fresh and pesticide-free vegetables and fruits that haven’t traveled thousands of miles to reach the neighborhood grocery store. Whatever the reason, though, gardeners are limited to the growing season, and in cooler climates, the season may last only a couple of months.  Fortunately, increasing the annual growing season can be done easily and inexpensively with a hobby greenhouse.

The purpose of greenhouses is to allow gardeners to grow a wider variety of plants and flowers, no matter the growing zone, and to extend the growing season to three, and sometimes four, seasons. No matter what size the greenhouse, the interior of a greenhouse heats up because the sunlight shining through greenhouse windows warms everything inside faster than heat can escape. The greenhouse walls and roof keep the warm air inside, even when temperatures outside are chilly. A few essential determinations that must be made, though, before selecting any hobby greenhouse are size and location.

Selecting the Right Size Greenhouse

Hobby greenhouses can be found in numerous models, shapes, and sizes. If space is limited, a practical option would be a lean-to greenhouse or an attached greenhouse. These greenhouses are physically attached to another building, such as a house, garage, or shed. Attached greenhouses and lean-to greenhouses get less sunlight during the day simply because they are attached to another structure, so they need to be located in a spot that receives the most amount of sunlight throughout the day. Lean-to greenhouses and attached greenhouses are ideal for gardeners who wish to use the greenhouse only seasonally, and who do not plan to grow a large collection and variety of plants. Larger hobby greenhouses are free-standing and can hold more plants, flowers, and vegetables. Larger greenhouses can also support a longer growing season. Importantly, upgrading to a larger size greenhouse later can be more expensive than starting with a larger greenhouse in the first place, so thinking ahead to future gardening expectations is recommended.

Choosing the Best Location for Your Greenhouse

The best location for a hobby greenhouse is a level, well-drained site that garners much sunlight. If the local climate includes heavy rains, a well-drained site will help prevent drainage problems in and around the greenhouse. A drainage system may be necessary, though, if a site with good drainage is not available. Sunlight is, of course, a major consideration when locating a hobby greenhouse. To grow plants in late fall and winter, a greenhouse needs at a minimum six hours of direct sunlight every day. However, if the greenhouse will be used mainly for starting seeds and transplants in the summer, then an area with partial shade would be ideal. Partial shade will help minimize heat build-up in the afternoon. In general, greenhouses should be positioned so that the ends face east and west; this location provides the greatest amount of heat during the winter and minimizes shadowing.

To have the most success and return, the size and location of greenhouses are essential considerations for every home owner who wishes to join the growing numbers of new backyard gardeners. Skillful consideration prior to installing a hobby greenhouse will pay off when harvest time brings beautiful flowers and plants, and delicious fruits and vegetables.

One thought on “Planning for a Hobby Greenhouse: Size and Location Matter”

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