Building a Greenhouse for a Greener Lifestyle

If you cast a critical eye around the produce section of your local grocery store and think to yourself, as you see the lifeless, commercially-grown fruits and vegetables, “I can do better than that,” then maybe you should. Many homeowners’ landscaping provides a corner of the lawn for the family vegetable garden, but those gardens are typically only summer projects.

Increasingly, families are turning to their own greenhouse to grown their own produce and to take a step closer to a self-sustainable lifestyle.

Depending on the size if your lawn and your landscaping preferences, there are a variety of greenhouse options in which to grow your own organic veggies. Clearly, placing your greenhouse on a section of property that gets the most sun is ideal. Typically the best location for a greenhouse is on the east side of your home and of any tall trees, so the morning sun will get the plants growing early.

A greenhouse does not have to be an expensive landscaping feature. A good, understated choice of greenhouse can be the lean-to style, which is attached to the house and thus close to electricity and plumbing. Only the wall adjacent to the house will not be open for light, so make sure the external walls face the most sun. Lean-to greenhouses are usually small, and sometimes need to be placed carefully against the house so excessive water, snow, and ice don’t run off the main roof onto the more fragile glass-work of the structure.

An even smaller greenhouse, which is more of an architectural element than a landscaping one, is simply the window greenhouse. Bumping out a window to enclose chosen plants, often in the kitchen, can be an easy way to offer fresh, ripe pickings to anyone who is cooking.

On the other end of the size scale, a large greenhouse which is a separate structure from the home is a major landscaping feature and requires as much space as you can devote to it, if you truly want to reap as many edibles from the space as possible. The bonus of the freestanding greenhouse is the sun can penetrate all of the sides, and is not limited by the wall of a house.

The larger the greenhouse, the more sustainable the inside temperature. Smaller greenhouses tend to fluctuate in temperature, because the volume of air inside them is smaller. If you want to start small, place your greenhouse in a part of your landscaping where there is room for expansion. Chances are, once you see small success, you’ll be able to take on more and more types of plants to cultivate.

The freestanding greenhouse can have a center aisle, shelving, benches, a nearby workshop for trowels, potting soil, fertilizer, and spritzer bottles. The more you learn about the types of plants you want to grow, the more you’ll be able to organize them and care for them, being as heedful of the different amounts of light, water, and heat each type will thrive best in, as you are when planting decorative gardens as part of your home’s landscaping.

Many do-it-yourself greenhouse kits are available on the market, if building the greenhouse is a project you’d like to take on. The materials differ, so investigate your options before you simply pick the cheapest one. Materials for the frame can range from plastic to wood to steel. Materials for the walls range from glass to fiberglass to plastic. The floor can be anything from gravel to stone to concrete. Be sure to take drainage into account when you plan your floor – greenhouses are wet places. Just as a low-lying part of your lawn may be a landscaping headache if rainwater pools there without draining, your greenhouse also might end up becoming swampy if you do not have adequate drainage.

About the Author

For professional landscaping in the Maryland area, please contact Carroll-landscaping services for Maryland landscaping, or consult your local landscaping professional. If you are a D.I.Y’er please also consider the Landscaping Wizard for more landscaping ideas.