Tips for Siting a Greenhouse

I couldn’t be more excited! After much deliberation and procrastination, we’ve decided to install a proper greenhouse – and as I currently have a small head height ‘lean-to’ fixed to the wall of a narrow walkway outside the back door I just can’t wait. Up to now, Chris has been concerned that we don’t have a suitable site at Scott Road,  but he was happy to look at the various options I’d identified.

On the face of it, you’d think we had plenty of choice as the garden wraps around three sides of the house, there’s a sizeable front garden – for Chris, this is definitely not an option (he’s concerned that I’ll turn the whole area into an allotment!), and as the side garden is in shade for a significant part of the day, it was also  quickly ruled out.


Siting a greenhouse – we’ve decided this corner of the garden is ideal

So I drew a scale plan of the garden at the back of the house and we agreed some criteria for what type of greenhouse we would both like to see in what is going to be a prominent position. The result was a shortlist of three options, all requiring significant remodelling of the site and removal of trees/hedge/shrubs. In the end as we’d like the greenhouse to be a focal point as well as a practical space, we decided to site it across a corner where there is currently a bench and a few shrubs. This decision was made on the basis of 5 common tips I discovered  when searching the internet:

  1. Sun/light – all year round the site is sunny on 3 sides, the best in the garden
  2. Some natural shade is provided by a deciduous tree
  3. The site is well drained
  4. It is not a windy corner!
  5. The hose pipe will easily reach if I don’t collect enough water in the butt

Once the decision had been made, we had to select the greenhouse. Based again on tips found on the internet:

  1. The greenhouse should be as big as you can possibly fit – you’ll never regret it, but if you skimp, it’ll always be ‘if only’
  2. The greenhouse should suit the style of the garden and house
  3. Ideally it should have a solid foundation
  4. it should be constructed from strong and enduring materials

I’m not going to reveal the greenhouse we’ve selected yet, hopefully there’ll be a grand unveiling in April/May!

Second decision made and I started to worry about the number of shrubs and possibly trees that would have to be removed – a daunting task and potentially a bit upsetting as some of these plants are long established and I love them! I recalled that Alan Titchmarsh, writing in December’s Gardener’s World, was in mourning as he faced the far more significant and upsetting task of removing a miniature avenue of pear trees that he planted 15 years ago as they’ve have outgrown their space – this put my dilemma into perspective and the task began. Preparation for the site considered the following tips I found:

  1. Ground should be cleared at least a metre around, of all shrubs and trees, along with their roots
  2. As flat as possible for ease of constructing the foundation and base
  3. Room to access the back of the greenhouse
  4. Preparation of an area for a water butt and composting bin in the near vicinity

Stage 1 complete – shrubs clearly in the way now removed

Three shrubs that were definitely in the path of the new greenhouse have been removed, a choisya ternata , a viburnum tinus and a sambucus nigra. They were all too big to remove whole, so I’ve taken cuttings. We’ll now stake out the site and determine whether the young silver birch, and viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ need to go – the former is unlikely to survive, but the viburnum may (fingers crossed!). I haven’t yet dug up the lovely Rosa ‘Old Blush China’, which was the first rose I planted in this garden about 16 years ago – must be saved! The site is fairly flat, and as the greenhouse will be constructed across the corner, I’ll be able to prepare an area for the water butt and compost bin – hopefully a storage area too.

We’re now waiting for a start date for the installation – watch this space!