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  3. Designing an Efficient and Functional Garden Greenhouse

Designing an Efficient and Functional Garden Greenhouse

Greenhouse gardening offers a controlled environment for cultivating plants year-round, providing ample opportunities for plant enthusiasts and avid gardeners. However, creating an efficient and functional layout for your greenhouse garden requires careful consideration of various factors, such as organising plants, pathways, and work areas, and optimising light distribution. In this article, we will explore essential tips and considerations for designing a greenhouse layout that maximises space utilisation, improves accessibility, and ensures an optimal growing environment. Additionally, we will guide readers through an activity to create their own greenhouse layout, tailored to their unique plant preferences and workflow.

Interior of a wooden domestic greenhouse for growing vegetables
Interior of a wooden domestic greenhouse for growing vegetables

Plant Needs

Before designing your greenhouse layout, it’s crucial to evaluate your needs and available space. Consider the following:

  • Determine the types of plants you want to grow and their specific requirements (temperature, humidity, light, etc.).
  • Evaluate the available space, considering the dimensions, shape, and orientation of your greenhouse.
  • Identify any potential obstacles or limitations, such as existing structures, utilities, or shade.

Organising Plants for Efficiency

Efficiently organising your plants within the greenhouse will enhance accessibility, ease maintenance, and promote healthy growth. Consider the following tips:

  • Group plants with similar environmental needs together, allowing for easier monitoring and adjustments.
  • Arrange plants in a way that maximises space utilisation, considering their growth habits, sizes, and potential for vertical gardening.
  • Use staging or shelving to create multiple levels for plants, increasing growing capacity without sacrificing floor space.
  • Consider implementing a crop rotation system to optimise plant health and minimise disease risks.

Optimising for Light Distribution

Proper light distribution is crucial for plant growth. Consider the following strategies to optimise light utilisation in your greenhouse:

  • Analyse the greenhouse’s orientation and position it to maximise exposure to sunlight throughout the day.
  • Utilise reflective materials or coatings on walls and surfaces to enhance light diffusion and reduce shadowing.
  • Avoid overcrowding plants, which can lead to shading and inhibit light penetration.
  • Use shading systems or movable curtains to control excessive light during the hot summer months.
Wooden pallet with raised garden beds in a small home greenhouse
Wooden pallet with raised garden beds in a small home greenhouse

Allow for walkways & Accessibility

Often an overlooked aspect when setting up and designing your greenhouse is giving yourself proper access to the greenhouse. We don’t just mean making sure nothing blocks the main door, but more about making sure you are able to walk around the greenhouse comfortably. A well-planned greenhouse facilitates movement and ensures easy access to all plants and work areas. Consider the following:

  • Design pathways wide enough to accommodate wheelbarrows, carts, or equipment used for plant care and maintenance.
  • Leave a small gap around the inside of the greenhouse. This may seem a little strange, but it is for the same reason that you leave a gap on the perimeter outside of the greenhouse, if you need to change a broken panel on the greenhouse, you don’t want to worry about it damaging any of the plants around them.
  • Use a durable and non-slip material for pathway surfaces such as gravel or rubber mats.
  • Incorporate central aisles or walkways for easy access to all areas of the greenhouse.
  • Consider installing irrigation lines or electrical outlets along pathways for convenient access to water and power.

Zoning

For more efficient use of the greenhouse, mark out zones within the greenhouse. Popular zones featured in domestic greenhouses are:

  • Potting area
  • Storage area
  • Areas for edible plants
  • Area for non-edible plants
  • Plant types
  • Harvest times
  • Light requirements
  • Watering requirements

The best way to make a permanent division of areas is to apply partitions. These are internal glass walls that can be used to provide a stylish way to separate your greenhouse.

Garden greenhouse with separate storage zone
Garden greenhouse with separate storage zone

Shelving

If you have a narrow greenhouse, shelving is a great way to make full use of the height. Whether choosing free-standing shelves or wall mounted they’re the simplest way to store all your tools and equipment. A slatted shelve design allows light to permeate, air to circulate and excess water to drain away easily. If choosing a freestanding unit, choose one with adjustable shelves so you can store things more effectively.

A section of clear plastic boxes will keep things dry and easy to see, as well as keep surfaces clear of clutter. Label each box clearly, but remember to store seeds in a cool, dry and dark place in an airtight container.

Staging

Greenhouse staging is popular with gardeners and for good reason. It’s strong and provides plenty of surface area for storing seedlings and plants. Combination staging has a solid surface top with slat shelving beneath, ideal for lighter items like watering cans, twine and wellies. Some gardeners use wooden benches but insects and pests can overwinter in wood, so plastic or steel is ideal.

Potting Benches & Accessibility

If you have space, add a potting table in the greenhouse with all your tools and equipment close at hand. Potting benches don’t just add a work surface that can be used in any weather condition, they also provide useful storage. Customise your bench by adding hooks and hanging buckets for small tools, labels, string, ties and scissors, all the things that you’ll need when tending to delicate seedlings or taking cuttings. Store your pots and compost under the bench.

Efficient work areas promote productivity and ensure a smooth workflow. Consider the following ideas for enhancing functionality and accessibility:

  • Designate specific areas for potting, propagation, storage, and tool maintenance within the greenhouse.
  • Install workbenches or tables at convenient heights for comfortable plant care activities.
  • Incorporate storage solutions for tools, equipment, and supplies to keep them organised and easily accessible.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation and airflow in work areas to maintain a comfortable working environment.
Woman potting plants on a potting bench
Woman potting plants on a potting bench

Rubbish

Removing rubbish as you go saves time and keeps the greenhouse clean and organised. The best way to remove waste and still be environmentally friendly is to have two separate bins. Once for compostable material and one for general waste.

Overhead Space

If the floor area and worktop are full, add hooks for hanging tools, seeds and even pots. Make use of the area above by adding floating shelves.

Old greenhouse with tropical flowers and hanging plants inside.
Old greenhouse with tropical flowers and hanging plants inside.

Creating Your Greenhouse Layout

Now, it’s time to put your ideas into action! Grab a pen and paper or use a digital design tool to create your own greenhouse layout. Consider the plants you want to grow, their space requirements, and your workflow. Experiment with different arrangements, pathways, and work areas. Remember to consider light distribution and accessibility in your design. Once you’re satisfied, you can use this layout as a blueprint for implementing your greenhouse garden.

Conclusion

Designing a functional and efficient layout for your greenhouse garden requires careful planning and consideration of various factors. By organising plants, pathways, and work areas thoughtfully, maximising space utilisation, optimising light distribution, and improving accessibility, you can create a thriving and enjoyable growing environment. Don’t forget to take on the activity and create your own greenhouse layout, tailored to your specific needs and preferences. Check out our full range of Greenhouse Gardening articles here.

Updated on April 10, 2024

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