Site Selection

Building a Greenhouse – Greenhouse Kit Site Selection

Selecting A Site For Building Growing Dome® Greenhouse Kits

Building a greenhouse in your area may fall under restrictions so it’s best to check with your local subdivision, county or city Planning and Zoning Departments about any requirements to assemble your greenhouse kit. Also, you may consider informing your neighbors to request their support of your efforts. It’s helpful to mention how they can benefit from the excess produce created in your backyard greenhouse.

Often our Growing Spaces® Growing Dome greenhouse kits can be classified as a temporary or agricultural structure, as it bolts together and unbolts if you choose. The smaller backyard greenhouses do not need a concrete foundation. The larger geodesic Growing Domes (33′ & 42′) can either have a full concrete foundation or the greenhouse kits can sit on concrete piers.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing your site for the Growing Dome:

Greenhouse solar horizon: When building a greenhouse, consider that solar greenhouses should preferably have unrestricted sunlight from the south, east and west – in that order of preference. You can approach a solar architect in your area if you have questions or need advice about the placement of your garden greenhouse kit. A solar pathfinder is a useful tool to borrow. If you have a lot of sun in the summer this may cause overheating problems in your greenhouse. Deciduous trees may be helpful as they lose their leaves allowing solar gain in the winter while still providing shade for green houses in the summer. When selecting your greenhouse site, if you have to choose between morning sun or afternoon sun, the plants prefer the morning sun to get them off to an early start. Sites for building a greenhouse need to have a minimum of 4 to 5 hours of clear sun per day for the geodesic dome to perform effectively. If your site has less sun than this, the Growing Dome will still perform but you may perhaps have to add auxiliary heat in the winter months. You can consult a solar architect about the specifics of your site.

Backyard Greenhouse proximity to dwelling: If backyard greenhouses are fairly close to the house, it’s easier to pop in and pick fresh greens or a few herbs for your salad or stir-fry. Also, it’s easier to shovel a path through the snow and to supply power and water to a Growing Dome that sits close to the house.

Greenhouse Shelter: Choosing a location for garden greenhouses that are sheltered from the wind is useful in order to reduce heat loss in the winter, and also for reducing stress on the vents during high winds.

Garden greenhouse soil: It is preferable to start with a level site for solar green houses. Otherwise, use a south-facing slope. The site for the geodesic greenhouse kit needs to be leveled, and usually owners choose to excavate the high side in combination with building up the low side. This often is done while using a retaining wall made of landscape timbers or rocks on the high side.

If your soil is poor and rocky for your garden greenhouse, you may choose to excavate down a foot or two, remove the poor soil and bring in good topsoil, or build up on top of the existing soil. It is strongly advised to remove all perennial weed at this juncture, as removing them later is a proverbial pain. When building a greenhouse kit, many dome owners have regretted omitting this step. Also remove creeping weeds with underground rhizomes to a distance of a couple of feet away from the Growing Dome, as they can creep under the wall of your greenhouse and right through the insulation! If you have gophers or burrowing animals, you may want to cover the floor of your Growing Dome with hardware cloth (galvanized metal screen approx. 1/4″ mesh.)

Electric and Water Supply Lines: You can install electric and water supply lines to our greenhouse kits, although these are not necessary for the solar powered Growing Domes to function and can be added later if you choose. Our 26-ft geodesic green houses have a solar powered cooling fan as part of the standard greenhouse kit. The larger Growing Domes (33′ & 42′) have 110v powered cooling fans as standard, but they can be upgraded with solar powered cooling fans for an additional cost. More solar fans can be provided for hotter climates if you need to add them to your Growing Dome Kit. Electricity in garden greenhouses can be helpful as an auxiliary heat supply for those sub-zero winter nights, but propane heat can also be used for standby heat and is preferred by most Growing Dome Owners. Your plants will enjoy the extra CO2 produced as well as the heat.

Some owners of backyard greenhouses use polyethylene water pipe, which can freeze and thaw without rupturing, to supply water to their greenhouse kit. During the winter, plants in our green houses can also be watered directly from the water tank, as water demands are usually low and the tank can be topped off once a month or so as needed. In the summer the Growing Dome plants can be hand-watered using a hose or automatically watered using a sprinkler system that does not require power.

Growing Spaces can give advice on your particular location and we are more than happy to consult with you on any aspect of installing or maintaining your Growing Dome®.

For more details of these solar greenhouse options, see Greenhouse accessories.