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Four Tips for the Greenhouse Gardener Beginner

Updated on September 11, 2009

In the excitement of planning a new greenhouse, it’s easy to neglect the design of your greenhouse interior space as you handle all the exterior design concerns. Don't make the mistake of leaving all your interior design planning to the last minute! Interior space is usually the most limited resource in a greenhouse, so thoughtful planning about how you will use this space is key to your future enjoyment of your greenhouse. Think about all the hours you and your plants will spend inside the greenhouse, and design your greenhouse interior to maximize comfort, safety, and functionality. Keep the following four tips in mind as you plan your greenhouse to ensure that you create a space you will enjoy for years to come.

Tip #1: Visualize Your Space

To help you realistically plan what you’ll be able to fit inside your greenhouse, it’s a good idea to get out a pencil and paper and sketch out the interior dimensions of your greenhouse. Making revisions on paper is easier than fixing mistakes once you’ve already set up your greenhouse!

Tip #2: Identify the Right Mix of Leisure versus Growing Space

As you design your interior space, consider how much leisure space versus growing space you want in your greenhouse. Perhaps you have a very utilitarian attitude toward your greenhouse and simply want to maximize the number of seed starts or other plants you can fit in your greenhouse. Or maybe you imagine your greenhouse as more of a sunny living room space where you and your family can enjoy the company of your plants. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, your goal should be to identify the ideal mix of leisure versus growing space given the overall greenhouse space constraint imposed by your budget or yard space. 

Tip #3: Plan for Comfort

When designing your greenhouse, remember that the more comfortable you are getting into your greenhouse and tending the plants in your greenhouse, the more likely you are to take good care of your plants. The closer your greenhouse is to your house, and the more visible the greenhouse is, the more likely you are to pop into it on a daily basis. A lean to greenhouse that you see every day from your kitchen or other high-traffic room in your house may be a good choice, for this reason. Also keep in mind that the design of the garden beds in your greenhouse will play a big role in your comfort using the greenhouse. Raised beds and tables will always be easier to work with than floor-level beds that you have to bend over or squat down to tend.

Tip #4: Play It Safe

To avoid injury to yourself, your property, or your plants, observe the following safety tips as you design your greenhouse interior:

  • If you use any electrical equipment in the greenhouse, it is highly recommended that you use only ground-fault interrupter (GFI) electrical outlets. These are the outlets with a “test” and “reset” button on them. GFI outlets will protect you from electrical shocks and the risk of electrical fires in the event that water comes into contact with electrical equipment and causes a short. 
  • If you use a gas heater in the greenhouse, ensure that you have proper ventilation installed to prevent you and your plants from possible injury from air pollution. 
  • Ensure that any heater you may use stands clear from any walls or flammable materials to prevent fires. Remember that fiberglass and other plastic glazings common in greenhouses are highly flammable, as are many plastic pots and other gardening materials. 
  • Consider installing a smoke detector in the greenhouse and keeping a fire extinguisher within reach of the greenhouse.
  • Install protective screens over any fans or ventilation equipment with moving parts to prevent accidental injury to yourself, your plants, or childrens’ fingers. Screens also help keep out insects and critters. Galvanized hardware cloth and microfine insect screen are good choices.
  • Store pesticides and other toxic greenhouse chemicals out of the reach of children.


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