Register with us or sign in
in Tools and techniques
Hi all, I am hoping to buy a greenhouse this year and was wondering if you have any advice / experience you could share. I'm considering a 10' x 8' as this is the largest size that will fit in the space I have. I can't decide whether to go for polycarbonate or glass. Also, which makes / suppliers are reliable. Is a solid concrete base a good idea? I have wondered if the base should have some drainage. Any info / advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
...I can't offer too much advice but first of all, I think a 10 x 8 should be fine for most home gardeners. and ideally it should be sited east/west... double sliding doors and 2 windows, with perhaps a louvre window too if possible...
I've only ever had glass so cannot comment on polycarbonate... I just think glass makes it look like a proper greenhouse...
mine is on paving slabs, but the base does need to be very level otherwise it might move in high winds...
I used to have one with a soil border but I grow everything in pots now, and I don't miss the soil really..
good solid staging is a must... you'll be putting lots of heavy things on it..
I have an 'Elite' greenhouse but I wouldn't recommend one, I think there are probably better ones going...
also, have guttering on each of the long sides with plastic connection pipes running to a water butt at one end. It takes longer to fill than down pipes connected to your home but it's nice to have this as an extra... sometimes these connections to the guttering can get a bit loose and I tie waterproof tape around some of the joins as occasionally it can leak the water away instead of going to the butt..
don't know about drainage, I seem to have enough gap under the base so that if I hose it down the water runs away a bit to the outside...
one thing I do recommend is having somewhere to sit down, like a little stool or something, which doesn't take up much room, as when it's chilly outside, if it's sunny, it can reach 21 degrees in there and you will just want to enjoy the warmth with a nice cup of tea...... grow nice winter salads too...
...have a lovely time...
...did I say I couldn't offer too much advice...? lol ! .. sorry for rambling on but I love my greenhouse and I know you will enjoy yours just as much...
I bought my greenhouse from the Greenhouse People. I found they have a good price selection and were very helpful. Also needed some replacement glass - broke in a storm and customer services were quick and efficient.
I have it on a solid concrete base as a previous one had dug beds and I didn't like them.. I think I would have a drainage channel put down the centre
Mine has strengthened glass, and it came with louvres, automatic openers, hanging basket rail, also had the guttering for the outside which made it easy to connect a butt.
I am very pleased with it
Just a point re drainage- my greenhouses are on hard standing, so when we laid the concrete for the base to go on, we greased small lengths of bamboo, and concreted over them. When the greenhouse was put up, we slid out the bamboos leaving channels for excess water to drain away.
I have polycarbonate because I have horses in a stony paddock next door and they gallop about. But it doesn't look as nice as glass. Half of mine is dug bed which I grow tomatoes in, but I change the soil from time to time and add compost and rotted manure when planting. In spring I put trestles with planks on as a temporary table for putting my baby plants on, then when they go in the cold frames to harden off I remove the tables and plant the indoor tomatoes. The other side of the central path has permanent staging and a potting bench.
First thing you should do is consider your price range. I bought my greenhouse from the greenhousepeople as well. I have small children (5 and under) so it was poly carbonate or safety glass. I went for a 12'x10' GH, so although it costs a bit more, the safety glass was what I went for. Quite simply at the size you are looking at, if you get stronger winds, plastic will likely blow away. The weight of the safety glass is a real bonus, I shudder to think how much I would have needed to replace with horticultural glass even.
I actually put mine on paving slabs, which not being a builder were a real pain in the bum to lay level. With hindsight, I'd have definately dug a trench a foot wide and about 8-9" deep, put some hardcore in, then used some of that self leveling concrete mix, loads faster and just as good. You need it to be level otherwise your glass won't fit properly. Once you have the frame constructed, check the dimensions across the diagonals, also run your eye along the sides to make sure they are straight and not bowing out (which is the typical thing).
Make sure when glazing, the day is not too windy, and that you will be able to fully glaze in a single go, even a single pane left out, if the wind picks up can destroy a greenhouse in a matter of minutes! (Well cost you a packet for more glass!)
I myself went for the bar capping option as opposed to clips, it gives nice clean lines, and of course holds the glass tightly across the entire length of the glass, which gives added stability.
Next up, consider ventilation, are you at home all day or out for long periods? If you work like me, then automated ventilation is a must. With the GH size you are talking about, one louvre window is a must, personally I went for two, one for each side which sets a nice cross breeze through. I also have them with the automatic openers. My green house has 4 top windows, 2 of which are auto controlled. You will find these things are quite expensive probably 200 quid or so, but if you are out a lot, worth every penny for peace of mind. Should last years with 5 mins of maintenance every now and again.
Regards to staging, greenhouse staging appears to be massively over priced, if I had the time again I'd be looking at local ebay or gumtree. In the meantime, consider those 4 tier green houses, currently in homebase for £22. The added bonus is if you pop the covers on in winter then cover with bubble wrap, should make nice frost proof shelters for overwintering things. I have to be honest, my staging only stays in the gh over winter til start of summer, they only ever hold seed trays so as for being strong, the 4 tier will be fine. In the summer all the staging comes out to increase the growing room for toms etc.
Anyways, good luck with your GH, I hope I have covered the main bits, any questions you have I'll check back on here for next few days.
Thanks everyone for your replies much appreciated. It's given me plenty of insight for my greenhouse planning, and probably more questions. Will likely post my plan/ideas when I've had a ponder, and hopefully some of you helpful peeps could tell me if I'm on the right lines. Thanks again.
One thing I would add, get the biggest one you can find a site for - anyone who has a greenhouse will tell you they wished they had a larger one! I personally prefer wood from aluminium, I think it more sensitive to a garden, and it is always a couple of degrees warmer in winter than a metal one.
Thanks Booketoo, I also like the wood frame greenhouses better. Would be my choice but will depend on price. Do they require more maintenance an aluminum frame?
Yes, timber framed greenhouses do need a bit more maintenance.
umm more like massively, I went aluminium purely because I didn't want to spend literally years of my life sorting the wood out! Regards to the wood being a couple of degrees warmer, that maybe, but if you are actually going to keep plants that can't take frost, you will have heat. Wood does look great, but if you want trouble free (and much cheaper) GH stuff, I'd go Alu all the way. I'd way prefer to have safety glass, bar capping and all the extras even staging, than have a wooden greenhouse. Oh and you'd still have money left over for plants. Wooden GH cost loads of cash for a decent one, my uncle ran a plant nursery for about 30 years, he had maybe 10 GH. Yes, the wooden ones are sentimental, but purely from memories of repairs etc. On asking him, he'd go alu everytime now, the peace of mind and the fact they are like half the price means the choice is made.
Mmm ..... not sure I looking for extra work - rather be gardening (I'd even include cutting the grass/hedge in perference to extra greenhouse maintenance). Think it could be aluminium after all. Thanks for your reply figrat.
Hi Lorraine, my red cedar greenhouse is now around 15 years old, it gets the very occasional slap of timber seal stuff, but the reality of red cedar is that basically it doesn't need much care and maintenance. I bought it at a garden show for delivery later in the year so got a very good eal - there are always deals around if you look for them I suspect. It is not only the greenhouse where I grow things, and keep overwintered things - it is heated in winter to justy above freezing for tenderish things - it is my bolthole for wet and mizzy times. I feel a wooden one lends itself more to that, but I'm sure I would learn to love any other just as much if that is what I had.
Bookertoo, talking of 'boltholes', Salino mentioned earlier about having somewhere to sit down in a GH. I visualised myself in my GH with a refreshing cuppa between tending my plants. OH likes this idea so now I have to also visualise him in there too with his cuppa and a newspaper! We may have to take turn to sit down.
Ahh, yes that can indeed present an occupation hazard! My OH shows no interest in sitting in the GH so I have it to myself. Try filling it up with pllants so only one seat is possible and ensuring that you get there first - or maybe suggest that a den elsewhere for the other person might be a good thing? My trouble is I never get to stay there long as I then spot something that just has to be done NOW, if not sooner - which may give your OH the chance to snap up your seat!! Maybe hide the seat under a bench where only you know where it is ......
..another thing I would do differently if having a new one, would be to make sure it had a low threshold opening as it's annoying to step up each time in and out, [I keep knocking my feet against it]... especially if you intend to store large containers with shrubs in them, over winter.... it's quite a heavy job lifting them in and out otherwise... I would make that an important consideration if I was geting another one and pay extra for it if need be, you only get these things once...
...sheds are for men... greenhouses for ladies...
..oh, I also have toughened safety glass, kitemarked EN 12150...
I had wondered whether doorway threshold may vary, will definitely include this in my planning. I know how annoying this can be with UPVC doors. One of the reasons I don't like them. Toughened safety glass is also a must have.
My OH is not at all practical so a shed just won't be at all tempting. Will have to get him doing some useful digging in order to earn a rest on my greenhouse seat.
I got my first greenhouse (also from greenhouse people) in january. I wanted a wooden frames, and went for a swallow 8x10, i'm thrilled to bits with it.
Things to consider, is it windy where you are? It's windy here which is why i went for toughened glass, rather than normal horticultural glass, or polycarbonate, as the latter is supposed to blow out alot in high winds.
I layed a base of standard 2x2 council pathing slabs, on dry sand/cement mix (as recommended by swallow). The swallow guys then came and delivered and errected the greenhouse, and bolted it down to the slabs. They did a great job, cannot praise them enough.
The auto opening vents are great and i would say a must have, to make things easier. I went for staging down one side, and higher level staging too, which are great for seed trays/plug trays. To give you an idea i don't plan on heating the greenhouse, just using it to overwinter stuff, that i would otherwise put into cold frames, and sowing hardy annuals etc. Then in the summer, tomatos, peppers, chillis, and the like, not tonnes just a half a dozen toms etc. Which will be more than enough for me and my better half.
It's been great fun so far, i've sowed a load of annual flower type plants and brought them on and now planted them out, and also had a go at alot of the "cooler" new vegetables eg cucamelons.. we'll see how they go
Thanks for your post, Andy, Very helpful. I was thinking of getting same size GH as yours and it sounds as though it will be more than adequate, judging by what you use yours for.
i have had an 8x6 elite greenhouse for about eighteen years and have had no problems apart from the fact it wasn't big enough not just the size but the height,i expect the new one wont be big enough either
i went on there website and within two days had brochures and the names of my nearest suppliers, i have chosen the GX 800 12x8 and will order for delivery about September, i don't have experience of other makes but do agree with all the above advice. i hope this helps in some way.