OSMO - Colour Your Life
13 May 2022

Considering a Greenhouse to Grow Your Own?


If you’re thinking about purchasing a glasshouse or greenhouse for the first time but you don’t know where to start, Hartley Botanic has provided answers to some of the most common questions asked by new customers.


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What size and type of glasshouse or greenhouse should I buy?

Envisaging how you would like to use and enjoy your greenhouse is a valuable consideration in deciding upon a design and final size. There are many ways a greenhouse can bring your gardening potential alive and expand the way you utilise your garden as an outdoor space. Perhaps you want your greenhouse to fulfil a dual purpose: to be a very practical tool for growing your own food and an alfresco room where you can sit amongst your plants? For this, a structure that allows for a generous seating area with a view of key staging areas could be a consideration. Or perhaps it will enable you to indulge a passion for alpines, and being able to admire them from the outside is as important as growing them. Or maybe you want to grow fresh flowers for your property and are interested in blurring the divide between your living rooms and your garden? For this, consider an abutting greenhouse that’s accessible from within your home.

What is the optimal position in my garden for a greenhouse?

Your greenhouse needs access to as much sunlight as possible during all seasons of the year, so positioning is an important consideration. Avoid locating your greenhouse in the shadow of tall trees, boundary fences or walls, as these will obstruct light.

For lean-to greenhouses placed against a wall, a south-facing position is ideal. For standalone structures, the ridge along the top of the greenhouse should ideally run from east to west, allowing the sun to run along its longest side during the day. Other elemental considerations include a location to catch prevailing winds for ventilation purposes and choosing a site that is not shaded but equally not too exposed to the cold.

Site your greenhouse near electricity (if utilising) and water supply, and on fertile soil, if you want to install growing beds.

It is also essential to consider how the structure will fit aesthetically into your landscaping as a whole. Your greenhouse needs to find a natural place within your existing garden rather than dominate it.

Will I need planning permission?

Planning consent is not always needed for greenhouses or glasshouses that are intended solely for domestic use. However, there are many and varied circumstances where planning permission will be required, such as for Grade I, II or Listed properties or areas of outstanding natural beauty. You may also need permission if the greenhouse is disproportionately large in relation to your existing property. As instances will vary so much from customer to customer, we recommend you check this with your local planning authority.

What are the benefits of a lean-to and an abutting greenhouse?

Lean-to and abutting greenhouses can provide clever, neat and stylish design solutions that effectively use smaller outdoor spaces or give direct access to your greenhouse through your property.

Lean-to greenhouses are placed along south-facing or well-lit walls and work well in both walled gardens and against a property’s external wall. They are ideal for compact garden areas. With their roof pitch highest next to the adjoining wall, lean-to designs provide ideal spaces to grow fruit trees and ornamentals which benefit from being trained, such as Pelargonium and Bougainvillea.

Abutting greenhouses and glasshouses are typically attached to a building by their side. Attaching a greenhouse to the side of your property can create beautiful architectural interest and a contemporary look. This is especially true if selecting stone for the greenhouses’ dwarf wall, which mirrors that of the property itself.

What water access will I need?

Watering is arguably the most important daily task in the routine of owning a greenhouse, so easy access to a mains water supply is a must, especially during dry seasons. There are automatic watering systems available for greenhouse owners. Still, for domestic structures, these are not always necessary and lack the intuition and personal touch of a gardener, able to tailor watering according to each plants’ needs. We recommend that greenhouse owners use sustainable water sources, using water butts to collect rainwater and ‘grey’ water recycled from baths or sinks. This will save on the amount of water you need to use without negatively impacting your plants – unless they include bleach, caustic materials or artificially-softened water (as found in dishwashers and washing machines).

How do I ventilate my greenhouse?

One of the most common reasons for plant failure in greenhouses is due to insufficient ventilation. Ventilation is maximised and prioritised for Hartley Botanic customers, with the number and position of vents being determined according to the specific needs of each bespoke structure.

Is an electricity supply essential?

Running an electricity supply directly to your greenhouse is not essential, but it can certainly make your life easier and your greenhouse more efficient.

Both heat and light are wonderful ingredients for your flourishing plants and can be exploited further if available in all seasons and at all times of day or night. For instance, we offer stylish Hartley lights that can be powder coated to exactly match your greenhouse finish or are available in polished metal. What’s more, fan heaters are very efficient at circulating heat, even in medium and large structures.

For heating extremely large structures, electricity isn’t necessarily required – a hot water pipe system with a boiler powered by gas or oil is the norm. Thermostats for this system should be located at plant height near the centre of the greenhouse, where they will not be influenced by drafts or sidewall cooling and protected from direct contact with sunlight and water.

How much should I spend?

This really depends on the type of greenhouse or glasshouse you would like, its size and scope. When considering the size of your greenhouse or glasshouse, weighed against its potential cost, it is essential to consider how long you are likely to be using it as a growing space and how your needs may change over time. With a Hartley Botanic Greenhouse, for example, you are guaranteed to be investing in a structure that will last for at least 30 years. Many of our greenhouses and glasshouses last much longer - some of our early structures from the 1950s are still standing and in full use (such as the Hartley Botanic Greenhouse at Belgrave Hall, installed in 1950 and the Glasshouse in Glasgow Botanical Gardens installedin 1988).

Clearly, if you’re considering a larger structure, final budget considerations should include potential heating and lighting costs.

Further information....

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