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Want to add a residential greenhouse to your garden?
We purchased a simple, beautiful residential greenhouse at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. It arrived a couple of weeks later, and we had it assembled to use just before spring.
What kind of greenhouse did we add?
This model is a 6′ x 8′ Mt. Hood Sunshine greenhouse.
Why did we add a residential greenhouse?
We decided to redesign our back patio and surrounding garden spaces to include a greenhouse. My hope was to reclaim some of our ornamental spaces from “the dog zone” and transform them into mixed-use edibles and decorative plants. So, part of this plan meant changing out our old fencing and putting in a new wire fence. That’s so edibles could grow here. And, by using wire, we would be able to see through the fence to the reclaimed garden beds.
How did the greenhouse fit into this redesign?
I had to think about moving through the garden. So, I ordered a modified greenhouse with two doors. That’s because this would allow us to enter the greenhouse from the patio and exit it through the opposite end to enter the garden.
Customizing the greenhouse for maximum growing.
The greenhouse kit we chose comes with one redwood slat shelf. Sure, it looked cute at the garden show, but from my experience working in greenhouses, I knew I’d want more shelves. Too, I knew that expanded metal shelving works much better than wood shelves. So, we sourced expanded metal sheets and built four custom shelves. Finally, we added a couple of thermostats to monitor the temperature, and we installed wire to train climbing plants like likoi and cucumber.
Location matters when siting your greenhouse.
Fortunately for us, we already had a level concrete slab patio to build on. However, we also sunk securing anchors just in case of high winds.
Ventilation matters in your greenhouse.
This greenhouse cames with a self-venting roof, which is fantastic. When the greenhouse reaches a certain temperature, the roof opens to let out heat. This roof opening is controlled by a wax-filled cylinder. So, when the wax softens on a hot day, it causes the vent to open. When the wax hardens, the vent closes.
And, because we installed Dutch doors, I’m also able to open those for additional ventilation. Plus, the added airflow helps reduce disease.
Getting pollinators to visit the greenhouse
When the Dutch doors are open, pollinators may come to visit. But, when poor bees come in to do their work, sometimes they end up going directly for the sticky traps set out for the pests. That’s because keeping pests like fungus gnats and leaf hoppers out can be a greenhouse gardener’s big challenge.
Build from scratch or a kit?
We had considered building a greenhouse from scratch. It would have been quad-wall polycarbonate instead of the twin-wall we now have. It would have had finer joining. The wood would have been clear cedar instead of redwood.
But, it would have cost more in the end than the kit. And, it would have taken a lot longer than a couple of hours to put together.
Is a residential greenhouse more than you need?
A greenhouse isn’t for everyone, but other season extender tools might be for you instead.
Another modification we did was add gate hinges to the doors instead of using the sliding bolt locks it came with. I also drilled holes and ran string to the latches from the inside so you can be in the greenhouse with both doors closed and still get out ;-).
Thanks for sharing your ideas about remodeling garden. You have a great Greenhouse Back Door. Very interesting article.
Question: Do greenhouses in shady place, my backyard work, in Seattle (Redmond) area? The space we have is on the eastern side of house. So there is some late morning and early afternoon sun. Mostly shade though. Before investing in the green house, I would like to get advice about growing with green house in shady area.
Carlos, it’s really hard to say. Ideally, your greenhouse is in a sunny spot. But, it can be more complex than that. For instance, is it always in deep shade? Maybe in the winter the trees around the spot actually lose their leaves, and it will get winter sun allowing you to use it more in winter. Some shade in summer can be a good thing. If a greenhouse gets too hot (even if it vents well) the plants can wilt and shut down. Many commercial greenhouses actually have systems to pull shade cloth over portions of the greenhouse to create shade (or filtered sunlight) at times. And, what do you want to grow? If you’re growing plants that do well in deep shade but need some protection from the elements &/or some heat, a greenhouse may work for you. Without seeing the site and understanding the goals, it’s hard to give just one answer.
My own greenhouse gets a bit of first light sun in summer. It is shaded mid-day and then gets blasted with sunlight afternoon until sunset. So it works for sun loving crops, even if it does miss some of the morning and early afternoon sunlight. In winter, the trees and vines that block it from summer mid-day light are bare, so it gets whatever sunlight is available through the entire day from early leaf drop in autumn until early leaf break in spring (about Sept-late March).