Embarking on the journey of building a backyard greenhouse opens the door to a world of cultivating plants, extending growing seasons, and connecting with nature. However, the success of this hinges on a series of thoughtful considerations that shape the functionality, sustainability, and overall effectiveness of your greenhouse.
From harnessing the power of climate-conscious design to optimizing water sources, light fixtures, and ventilation, each aspect plays a pivotal role in creating an environment where your plants can thrive. Whether you live in an apartment in Valparaiso, IN, or you own a home in Prescott, AZ, these eight considerations will not only help you meet your horticultural aspirations, but also ensure you have a greenhouse built to last.
1. Think about your water sources
Being thoughtful about water sources is essential as it enables efficient irrigation planning, minimizes water wastage, and ensures consistent hydration for your plants.
“Consider where you will get water for your plants in your greenhouse,” recommends The Thirsty Earth. “Rain catchment is an awesome solution for greenhouse water since you’ll have a roof to gather water. Also, a frost-free hydrant in your greenhouse can be incredibly convenient.”
2. Select a climate control system
Selecting a climate control system for your residential greenhouse is crucial for maintaining optimal growing conditions.
“It’s important to choose a system that can accurately regulate temperature, humidity, ventilation, and lighting to create an ideal environment for your plants to thrive. Consulting with greenhouse experts or professionals can help ensure you select the right system for your specific needs,” shares Climate Control Systems.
3. Consider the size of your greenhouse
The size of your backyard greenhouse is important as it directly impacts the diversity and quantity of plants you can cultivate, allowing for proper spacing and growth.
“A backyard greenhouse is an opportunity to try growing a myriad of wonderful tropical plants that may not typically survive winters in your area,” says Alder & Oak Plants. “Be sure to design your greenhouse to be not only big enough to accommodate your goals, but also be wise in your plant selection. For example, if your dream is to grow a gorgeous avocado tree, go for a dwarf variety like Wurtz ‘Little Cado’ that will stay small enough at maturity to manage without taking up all of your greenhouse space.”
4. Think about your light fixtures
Carefully consider the lighting in your greenhouse, as proper lighting selection and placement significantly influence photosynthesis and plant growth.
“If your backyard does not get plenty of sunlight or the time of year you are growing in does not provide long enough days, you may want to add to the photoperiod with supplemental light.
High-intensity artificial lights can be used to promote crop growth and yield. A 1000W HPS light should be hung at least 36 inches from the canopy to cover a 5’ x 5’ grow space. Turn the lights on only when there is insufficient sunlight, such as cloud cover or nightfall,” notes Global Garden.
5. Look at your controller
Adding a controller allows for precise automation of environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and ventilation.
Jorma Voeks President and Owner of Voeks Inc. shares, “The first consideration we look at when building a backyard greenhouse is evaluating the greenhouse controller and selecting the appropriate product. These days there are a wide array of options, from simple controllers to handle just your watering schedule to advanced irrigation and environmental controllers that monitor all aspects of the greenhouse (lighting, temperature, humidity, CO2) and report conditions to you via the web.”
6. Consider the location of your greenhouse
The location of your greenhouse impacts sunlight exposure, wind patterns, and accessibility, affecting the overall performance and energy efficiency of the structure.
“How to orient the greenhouse can depend on prevailing winds, but if you plan to grow year-round, having the long side of your greenhouse facing south should take precedence. This allows you to maximize sunlight throughout the year, especially in the winter season when the sun is at its lowest point on the horizon. If you are in an area with high winds, then position the greenhouse so that the width (narrower) faces into the wind,” recommends Sunglo Greenhouse
7. Be able to ventilate your greenhouse
Incorporating proper ventilation into your backyard greenhouse is important to regulate temperature, humidity, and air circulation, preventing the buildup of excess heat and moisture that could harm your plants.
“One of the most challenging tasks is ventilating,” notes Gremon Systems. “In most cases, these greenhouses are rather small, and sunshine can easily overheat it in the morning. Plants are able to create a microclimate for themselves, but fast temperature shock can block evaporation, so be sure to open windows, especially during summer. If you have the opportunity, plant similar crops in a greenhouse. It is better not to mix fruity and leafy crops. They have different temperatures and water demands.
8. Look at climate or climate change issues
You’ll want to consider climate change when building a backyard greenhouse. Accounting for shifting temperature patterns and potentially extreme weather events can help design a greenhouse that provides a stable and controlled environment for your plants while contributing to long-term sustainability efforts. Consider any climate issues that may occur in your area, like storms, hail, heat, fire risk, unseasonable cold, flood, and drought, then build your greenhouse accordingly.