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Right – so we’ve decided that we will invest in a greenhouse. So where do we start? A few major points to consider :

  • Do we want a custom design or just one out of a box? Unless you really want your greenhouse to blend in aesthetically with your existing home or if your garden plot is particularly difficult and won’t fit any conventional greenhouses, there’s little incentive for you to start designing your own. There are a vast variety of greenhouses available suitable for different budgets and styles. Before you decide on a kit form greenhouse, you need to establish if you have the know-how and the tools to put it together, don’t get fooled by lovely plans with women in them who seem all but ready to go out shopping trying to sell to you how easy it is to set up. Believe you me, it’s NEVER as easy as they say, so ask questions and find out if you require special power tools, how many people are required in the assembly etc. If the supplier doesn’t have a technical support department then understand that after you’ve signed on the dotted line, you’re on your own when it comes to assembling the darn thing.
  • Do you want the greenhouse down in the corner of your garden or attached like a conservatorium to your home? Naturally, having your very own greenhouse in close limits to your home has many advantages – you can duck down there any time of the night or day and you’re more likely to be pottering around in there if you don’t have to don boots and a raincoat to brave the elements before getting to your greenhouse. Watering and fertilizing and other mundane gardening tasks are more likely to be done on a regular basis when your greenhouse is just a few steps away. Setting the greenhouse up with water and electricity access would also be a simpler task. Having said all that, if you don’t get the ventilation right, the greenhouse acts as a big furnace – great for winter when you’re after that extra heat but not something you’d want come summer. The advantages of a freestanding greenhouse starts with the hip pocket – they are usually less expensive and tend to be easier to set up (provided you’re not after one you’ll use year round and don’t require water and electricity connections). It can also serve as your little solace away from the home. If you’re living where there are frigid winters, you may want to consider insulating the foundation of the greenhouse down to the frost line.
  • Choosing the style – go contemporary or classic? Sometimes the choice is obvious – most would prefer to have a style that blends in with their existing home. Pick a style with enough head room, sufficient internal space to put in what plants you want to place in there. If you live in the North where a regular dumping of snow occurs every winter, you’ll have to consider things like snowload and if the roof’s sloped enough to have the snow slide off naturally without you having to get up there to shovel it off! You will probably want to ensure that the shape or style of the greenhouse is compatible with your home. Also ensure that there’s enough ventilation – you aiming for warm and balmy, not sweltering like a sauna.
  • Do you want a glass or plastic variety? Glass is the ultimate in greenhouse nostalgia. Having said that, they are also notoriously hard to seal and it’s costly. Take a look at the varying plastic materials out there as alternatives. Some are actually quite aesthetically pleasing to look at and they are a feasible alternative if cost rules glass out of the equation. Glass is brittle and can crack with temperature fluctuations, it’s a whole lot heavier than plastic and can smash easily if you have kids in the backyard playing ball and they ‘accidentally’ hit it into the greenhouse.

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