How to Set Up a Small Greenhouse

January 27, 2022
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A greenhouse doesn’t need to be large to be useful. If you are limited in space in your garden, you can easily set up a small lean-to greenhouse or a mini greenhouse. It’s easy to do and gives you a space to grow your most delicate plants.

What is a Greenhouse Used For?

The UK is not known for long, warm growing seasons, but sometimes the plants you wish to grow need that. You can extend the growing season with a greenhouse. It will allow you to create a temperate climate for your plants even when there is still snow outside.

You can use your greenhouse to give your garden a little bit of a boost. Some plants will be grown entirely in the greenhouse, receiving its warmth and protection. Others will begin as seeds and once they’re hardy enough, they can be planted outdoors.

The greenhouse prevents cold and wind from getting inside, as well as most pests. With plenty of glass, it can create a warmer space by trapping the sun’s heat inside the building. This has a similar effect to sun on a car window, heating up the interior, even on a chilly day.

Benefits of a Greenhouse

If you have a garden space, why would you want to use a greenhouse? There are so many reasons this is a good idea to have.

  • It’s easy to set up. You can purchase prefabricated greenhouses, so they’re very simple to set up on your property. The way the greenhouse is structured, you just need to get the struts up and then you can add the glass and the doors.
  • Ensure your plants get a head start. Tomatoes rarely fare well when planted directly in the soil, so it’s a good idea to take the time to start them indoors. A greenhouse provides as much natural light as possible, while also keeping the tomato starts warm enough that they can thrive. You can gradually move them outdoors and transplant the plants in your outdoor garden. This works with many plants that require a longer growing season.
  • It’s eco-friendly and sustainable. When you eat food you grow, you’re avoiding the carbon emissions that come from hauling the produce from the farm far away to your local store. There’s a reason eating locally is so popular and you can’t get any more local than your own garden.
  • Grow more exotic plants. Have you ever dreamed of growing plants that thrive south of the UK? If you enjoy the idea of growing a dwarf banana or oranges, the greenhouse is the place to do it. You’ll have the ability to grow all types of exotic fruits and flowers, making this a fun way to expand your growing skills.
  • Enjoy flowers year-round. If you keep the greenhouse warm throughout the year, you can easily grow plants even in the dead of winter. This could mean you have flowers at Christmas, or you may just want some fresh lettuce for your sandwiches in the winter.
  • Have a warm place to sit. Need to be around your plants, but it’s snowing? Your greenhouse will allow you to sit with the tomatoes and enjoy the greenery while you stay warm.
  • It’s educational. Your children will find it fascinating to learn how their food grows. You can give them their own plant pot or section of the garden and greenhouse to allow them to grow their own plants. Even very young children will learn a lot from being with you in the greenhouse. Use this opportunity to explain how plants grow from seeds and how temperatures matter for plant growth.
  • Growing your own vegetables is cheaper. You’ll have fresh fruit and veg at any point in the year, but it’s also lower cost to grow your own. It’s also more sustainable than purchasing vegetables and fruit, since many are imported. If anything goes wrong in the supply chain, you no longer have access to the food you need. However, if you have your own greenhouse full of vegetables, you can easily feed your family in a crisis.
  • Every gardener should have a greenhouse, even if it’s just a mini one. Even a small lean-to greenhouse can give you a chance to extend your growing season and grow some plants that you may not have otherwise.

What Type of Building Can You Use as a Greenhouse?

Since greenhouses depend heavily on their transparency to make them ideal for growing plants, you do need a fairly specific type of building. The frame of the building is usually made from aluminium or wood and has clean lines ready to set in the glass or plastic that will be used.

In some cases, you can use a garden storage shed that has been altered, but it’s usually a good idea to choose a building that is designed as a greenhouse.

You may have very limited space; in which case you may not want a full building. Instead, a small lean to greenhouse, which is built against the wall of a house or your fence. It provides everything you need to keep plants alive, but is small enough that you’ll likely only use it for starting seeds.

Types of Glass for Greenhouses

The glass used for your greenhouse will depend on your preferences, but it’s actually best to avoid glass at all. Since it can break easily and tends to be more fragile and transfers cold if you don’t use double glazed, glass isn’t ideal for greenhouses.

If you do use glass, opt for the strongest you can get. It should be double glazed to prevent the cold from getting inside. However, there’s a better option. Polycarbonate is a much stronger option (around 200x stronger than glass) and it doesn’t shatter like glass. It’s sturdy and durable and comes in crystal clear formats. This allows the sunlight to pour into your greenhouse and it reacts much like glass in that it traps the sun’s heat inside.

Setting Up and Organising Your Greenhouse

With your greenhouse in place, you will want to maximise interior usage. It’s a general rule that no greenhouse is ever large enough, so it will take some planning to get everything in.

First, you should place benches that will allow you to have plants up higher. You can leave the backs open so you can also place plants below and they’ll still receive light through the full windows.

Separate your plants by type. Your fruits can go in one section, the vegetables in another. You can also separate your plants by stages, with all the seedlings in one area and then they are moved as they grow. This allows you to track growth and you’ll be able to gradually move the plants outdoors if that is their final destination.

Aside from planting benches, you’ll want a potting bench. In warmer weather, this may be set outside to give you more room inside the greenhouse. This bench will have space for extra pots and tools beneath, with a flat area for repotting and transplanting your plants. It should be small enough that you can move it about if needed.

Finally, don’t forget to make good use of the overhead space. Many plants can be hung, particularly flowers and strawberries. Go ahead and hang some baskets to give yourself more room in the greenhouse. In addition, you can place strings or wires and train some plants, such as squash or cucumbers to climb them, so they take up less space. Just be aware that doing this will limit the amount of light that gets to the other side of the plants.

Add a Garden Storage Shed

A good way to keep your greenhouse specifically for plants is to store your tools and gardening supplies in a plastic outbuilding nearby. This frees up the warm space for the actual plants and lets you keep all your tools nearby.

A separate garden storage shed is also a good place to put extra soil, fertiliser, etc. If you have space for both a greenhouse and a garden shed, you won’t regret having both. As previously mentioned, you can never have too much room in your greenhouse.

Are you searching for “shed companies near me?” Then you will want to check out A1 Sheds & Garden Buildings. We offer a range of garden storage sheds and plenty of greenhouses in all sizes. Look through our catalogue and see what we have to offer today.