Greenhouses give you the chance to control the weather. Like Pudge in Lilo and Stitch, only more so. Probably. I don’t know; Pudge is a pretty powerful fish. Anyhoo, choosing a greenhouse is a big job unless you are purposely going for a small bay window type greenhouse. A bay window greenhouse is perfectly acceptable and may even be preferential if you are planning on raising herbs and vegetables for cooking. Otherwise, the greenhouse will likely be situated outdoors and that’s where a whole lot of pre-planning can come in super handy.
The first thing to do when planning for a greenhouse is establishing the purpose of the greenhouse. Why exactly do you need a greenhouse instead of just planting an outdoor garden like normal people? Will the greenhouse help you with propagation and growth of plants that just can’t take the outdoors in your hardiness zone? Do you intend to use the greenhouse as a showcase to display your talents as a gardener of exotic plants? Do you just want to become self-sufficient in the kitchen? If you can’t write out a purpose in one or two sentences for why you want a greenhouse, you don’t really need a greenhouse.
The size of your layout will, of course, depend to some extent on the size of your budget. More importantly, however, is that the size of your greenhouse correlates with your purpose for having a greenhouse in the first place. Go small if you just want a way to extend your growing season by a couple of months. If you want to showcase the kind of offbeat plants like Mrs. Venable in the movie Suddenly, Last Summer, you’ll need to make sure your wallet can afford the most spacious greenhouse you can fit on your property.
Attached or Freestanding
One of the decisions that must be made when you decide to buy a greenhouse is whether you want it to be attached to your house or standing by itself as an unattached addition. The advantage of a greenhouse that is attached to the house is that it means you have one less wall to pay for. The attachment to the solid structure that is your house ensures that even a second-rate greenhouse has more strength than it would if it were a freestanding greenhouse. Attached greenhouses also offer the benefit of cutting down on power costs because it will help heat the home. Of course, you also need to remember to shut off the heat at night in order to prevent an excess of heat loss. Detached greenhouse, of course, give you must more latitude in style, design and placement.
Unless you have some experience in building, it is very wise to go with a kit if you are going to build your greenhouse yourself. The kits that are available can be put together by someone with very little experience and still look like it was done by, well, if not exactly a pro, then a very experienced amateur. Kits for greenhouses give you the assistance of time as well since they are going to be easier to put together than building a greenhouse from scratch. Dependable kit manufacturers have also done the hard work of figuring out common greenhouse problems like resistance to decay and ventilation issues.
You already know that a greenhouse is going to be a lot more work than a simple garden. Include maintenance in that assessment. Prevent heat loss by making sure that the greenhouse is closed up tighter than a mafia daughter’s virginity. Regularly inspect the weatherstripping around the door and vents. Check that sealing between joints between the roof and walls remain tightly sealed. Glazing of the windows should be tightly constricted within the frame. If you live in a northern region subject to hard winters, line the walls and roof of your greenhouse with ultraviolet-resistant clear plastic sheeting. Make sure that sheeting is 4 mils thick to ensure proper protection.