Where to build that green house you have always wanted.

Where should a greenhouse go on your site? Are there rules? There’s certainly some factors to consider.

Where should you position that greenhouse you have always wanted? It depends on where you live…

Is there an ideal place to put your greenhouse in the garden? As with many things in life, there is no straight cut answer to this question, but there is a myriad of factors to consider when deciding where to place your new green plant propagation and nurturing station.

After many small (and cheap) mini greenhouses had been ripped to shreds and blown to kingdom come due to the harrowing winds on our North facing hill, I decided to go and get a big one, and build it on a solid foundation so I could anchor it to the ground and nothing else could fly away!

Living down in the southern parts of eastern Australia left me wondering where in fact I should actually put it. With extremely hot summers and temperate winters (honestly its temperate in every season here), I found many of the articles on-line were UK and European based, as well as American, and all had a different preference on locations.

So below are some of the things I considered before Mr Braun (aka my husband) built our little magnificent greenhouse in the back corner of the garden.

Newly built and ready for planting.

What direction should my greenhouse face?

Ultimately the common answer is “the place where it gets most sun”. Alas, in a temperate climate like ours, Summers are too hot and Winters can freeze, so we needed an answer a bit more like “where it gets the most Winter sun, but it usable in the Summer as a shade house”.

A greenhouse should really be able to overcome all obstacles on the site, be able to protect your plants from harsh winds and frost pockets, while also accessing plenty of daylight and warmth from the sun when needed. Also make sure there is access to water and consider if the site itself drains water away well. After spending three years gardening on our block prior to putting up the greenhouse, we were well aware of the conditions that we were contending with over the course of every 12 month period, and it rewards you to pay attention to this and know your seasons well.

Our green house was built on level ground, as should any greenhouse, with a firm base made from wood and filled with gravel, a sturdy foundation to anchor the greenhouse so it wouldn’t take off on us. Level ground means the site won’t get waterlogged and the water drains away well in the torrential rain of Winter time.

We wanted to make use of our greenhouse all year round. The site we chose was the most southernly spot on our north facing hill. We made sure the the roof had access to light from east-west so there was maximum sunlight available during the darkest winter months. It was also the most sheltered spot, sitting next to a young citrus orchard that provided some shelter, as well as being in our back microclimate created by box hedge and sheltered by the house. The citrus is a suitable small shelter, and does not block any light. If you have tall trees, please ensure your greenhouse is not sitting directly under them.

Plenty of room around the greenhouse means it is easier to take care of and maintain.

How much sun does my greenhouse need?

If you are going to use your greenhouse for spring and summer, its more advantageous to put it in a north to south location, and for all year round use it’s east-west. Please note though that in Australia, shade cloths will need to be put up over summer months, as your plants will fry without some shading.

Do I need to shade my greenhouse?

Yes! Due to personal experience, I feel you do need to shade your greenhouse in the Summer months here in Australia. I find as soon as it gets over 25 degrees celsius every day consistently, I need to put up shade inside. My first Summer, I had to take plants out in late Spring as they were starting to burn in there. Last Summer having shades up I was able to keep summer seedlings and small plants in there for the whole summer, as long as I watered them three times a day and they didn’t dry out. It’s ideal for keeping tropical plants in and plants that need shade at this time of year.

I take the shades off usually around mid Autumn, dependant on temperatures. I find the winter is wonderful for starting all my Spring flowers as well as Autumn cuttings with the vegetable seedlings thriving all year round.

Shade cloths are expensive, so we store them in thick plastic bags (the kind your bed quilts come in) and store them inside for the winter. They have had very little wear and tear in the first two years we’ve used them.

We began with beds inside the greenhouse, but found it too humid and wet so we took them out. You need to learn as you go.

Where to position your greenhouse:

  • consider the site — sunlight vs frost
  • Provide shelter from wind
  • Ensure theres a metre of space around your greenhouse, so you can clean and maintain it.
  • Make sure its close to amenities such as water
  • Keep it away from children’s play areas

Middle of garden or on the perimeter?

Again, there is no set rule. This can depend on if you have a large garden or small garden. Think about accessibility, is it close to taps for water and or heating if needed? If you are growing produce direct in the greenhouse in soil, you may want it closer to your kitchen, so its an easy walk outside to get your dinner of an evening.

Putting your garden on the perimeter, as we have done, is a great idea if you have kids, because then it won’t be in the way of their play areas or in the path of stray footballs (truly speaking from experience here).

Is it worth even having a greenhouse in Australia?

Well thats a big fat yes from me! I’ve found it a great gain to be able to extend my growing and propagating seasons over the winter, which is hard to do at times down here in Gippsland Australia, where the weather is fickle and the seasons can be muddled.

On a cold windy (oh so windy) winters day, nothing can compete heading into the warmth of the greenhouse, indulging in that unique aroma of green plants growing, while hail lashes against the greenhouse. Being able to pot up a few plants and make plans for the Spring is a bonus for all dedicated gardeners.

In conclusion:

It’s a little oasis kept in the back south corner of our garden, It’s lovingly looked after and we even decorate it for a bit of fun. The kids go in to have a look, feel its warmth and plant seeds. In my humble opinion every gardener who can should have one!

Happy Basil enjoying the warmth of the greenhouse in Autumn.

Freelance Journalist living in Gippsland, Australia. She writes for print and digital publications on topics such as travel, culture, food, homes and gardens.