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Selecting the Best Location for your Greenhouse

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The best location for your greenhouse depends on how you plan to use it. If your goal is to grow plants to maturity or continue to grow plants into the fall and winter, you will need maximum amounts of sunlight, at least 6 hours a day of direct sun. It sounds much more complicated than it really is.

Your first choice should be a location south or southeast of your home or other structure as it will provide a southern exposure for the most amount of sunlight. A location to the east of any structures is your next best choice because it will capture most of the November to February sunlight. The north side of your home is the least desirable location; your plants are limited by the amount of sunlight unless. You would need to provide an additional source of light and heat.

Keep in mind that the sun is much lower in the sky in the winter than in the summer. A full sun location in the summer may have partial shade in the winter due to long shadows caused by structures and evergreen trees.

For propagation cuttings, start transplants and growing plants from seed, choose a location that is partially shaded. If a suitable one is not available, adding a shade cloth can help reduce the amount of light reaching the inside the greenhouse. Another strategy is to place your greenhouse under deciduous trees to provide shade from the hot summer sun but still maximize light exposure in the winter. There is a risk in this setting that falling tree branches could damage the greenhouse, especially if it has a glass roof.

Many people ask about the orientation of the greenhouse or more simply, which direction should it face? Commercial growers seem to prefer the North/ South direction because it supplies an even distribution of sunlight. Recent research, however, suggests that the best direction depends on your latitude; for example areas above 40 degrees latitude are better suited with a North by East/West orientation. Always face the entrance away from prevailing winds to limit heat loss from cold air entering your greenhouse each time the door opens.

A level, well-drained site will make construction a lot easier and help prevent stress on the structure of the greenhouse. Make sure the site has easy access to water and electricity and that all power into the greenhouse is on a GFIC circuit.

High winds can be a big problem because constant cold wind can drain the interior heat. Choose a location where you will have a windbreak, such as trees, a house or a garage, but will not cause too much shadowing.

Remember you will be moving plants, dirt, and fertilizer to and from the greenhouse. Easy access to the greenhouse is always nice. Create a path to the greenhouse that is as short and level as possible and wide enough for a wheel barrel or garden cart to fit. The easier it is to get to the greenhouse the more you will use it.


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