Having a polytunnel or greenhouse is a great way to extend your growing season. But what is the best location for your greenhouse or polytunnel?
I believe that every gardener, who has the space, should have a greenhouse or a polytunnel. Not only will this allow you to harvest for longer, but you can also grow plants that might not grow in the UK climate otherwise.
Plus you will be able to grow fruits and vegetables throughout the whole year.
But you will only be able to reap the benefits if your greenhouse or polytunnel has been put down in the right spot.
That’s why, in this article, we will explore what the best location for a greenhouse or polytunnel is.
How To Choose The Best Location For A Greenhouse Or Polytunnel?
The best location for a greenhouse or polytunnel needs to fit certain criteria:
- sunshine and light
- away from frost pockets and cold winds
- level ground (for greenhouse only, polytunnels can be built on slopes)
- enough space around
- good soil
This looks like a long list, but we are looking for the best location for a greenhouse or polytunnel after all.
So let’s have a look at the individual criteria.
Sunshine And Light
A greenhouse or polytunnel will come into its own when it gets the appropriate amount of sunlight for what you want to grow.
Most plants grow best when they get lots of sunlight, because they use it to produce food through photosynthesis.
A well-positioned greenhouse or polytunnel will give your plants enough sunshine during winter to still grow well.
So it is important that you consider what you want to grow and how much light is required.
Most people will try to maximise the hours of sunlight their greenhouse or polytunnel gets though.
This also means that you need to make sure your location is not overshadowed by big trees. As these will block out a lot of the light.
Dropping leaves can cover the greenhouse or polytunnel, preventing even more light from getting in. Falling branches can cause damage, which you will want to avoid.
Ultimately, the best location for a greenhouse or polytunnel in regard to sunlight is dependent on the plants you are planning to grow.
Ideally, you want to choose a position that is easy to reach, even in snowy and icy weather.
You will have to water your greenhouse plants regularly, especially in summer. So you want it to be close to your water butts or a tap.
Not only will it save you time but also effort, not having to carry full watering cans a long way.
If you are planning to heat your greenhouse or polytunnel in winter or will need electricity for grow lights, then you should have a source of electricity near.
Remember, you will be visiting your polytunnel or greenhouse a lot during your growing season, so a convenient location is important.
Away From Frost Pockets And Cold Winds
Frost is enemy number one for most plants, as they rarely survive an attack.
So whether you use your polytunnel or greenhouse to overwinter tender plants, grow exotic plants or extend your growing season, avoid choosing a location with frost pockets.
These tend to occur in low-lying areas. If you are not sure if you have any frost pockets in your garden, look out for patches that have early or late frost while other parts of your garden don’t.
Cold winds can lower the temperature in your polytunnel or greenhouse quickly, so make sure you choose a position that is sheltered from the worst of cold winds.
These winds can cause harm especially for seedlings and young plants in spring, which could ruin your crops.
Level Ground (Greenhouse Only)
The best location for a greenhouse is on level ground, because otherwise you could get problems.
If your ground is uneven, your greenhouse will be less stable, which could cause issues in strong winds.
A greenhouse built on uneven ground is also less durable, because some parts get more pressure than they were built for.
If you have a polytunnel, then this is not really a problem. You can even build it on a slope.
The orientation of the greenhouse or polytunnel will dictate how many hours of sunlight the plants within will get.
Depending on what you want to grow and when, you will need to adjust your orientation.
For use all year round, the ridge of the roof of your greenhouse or polytunnel should run from east to west. This will ensure that you get the maximum amount of light in the winter months.
If you only want to use it during spring and summer, a north-south orientation is best. This way both sides get an equal amount of sun.
Enough Space Around
You also want to select a location that will leave enough space around the greenhouse or polytunnel. You want at least 1 meter.
If nothing else, you will be glad for the space when you put it up.
But it will also ensure that structures around the greenhouse or polytunnel, such as a fence, won’t block out valuable light or prevent air from circulating.
It will also make it easier to clean and maintain your polytunnel or greenhouse.
Soil is one of the most important things when it comes to growing vegetables.
So if you are planning to grow directly into the soil in your polytunnel or greenhouse, make sure you choose a location that has good soil.
Your plants will thank you for it and your yield will reward you.
Work With The Limitations Of Your Garden
Now that we have established what the best location for a greenhouse or polytunnel is, let’s talk about compromise.
Because in most gardens, the perfect spot doesn’t exist. That means you have to work with the limitations of your garden and find the best location for a greenhouse or polytunnel in your garden.
Some things you can’t compromise on, like sunlight. This is so vital, that without enough of it, you will not get the benefits of having a greenhouse or polytunnel.
Therefore, orientation is also important to ensure that you create the perfect conditions for whatever you want to grow in your greenhouse or polytunnel.
The chosen site should also be away from frost pockets, as these could cause you big problems.
But some of the other criteria can either be compromised on or you can take actions to solve them.
Levelling the ground can be hard work, but it will be worth it, if your greenhouse will last longer and be more stable. Alternatively, you could consider getting a polytunnel. Find out more about the difference between a greenhouse and a polytunnel in our article.
Convenience is a great thing, but if the best spot in your garden is a bit further away from the house, then so be it.
And you can always get an electrician in to install an outside plug in the greenhouse or polytunnel. You can also install gutters and a water but on your greenhouse, bringing water supply closer.
There are also ways to collect rainwater without gutters or a roof. So you can collect rainwater close to the greenhouse or polytunnel, keeping it handy.
Having space around your greenhouse or polytunnel is important, so you might have to opt for a smaller structure to get enough space around it.
When it comes to soil, you can always improve it, by digging in well-rotted organic matter. Ideally, this should be done before you build the structure, as it will be easier.
Alternatively, you can install raised beds in your polytunnel or greenhouse and fill these with compost. We did that in our polytunnel, and it worked wonders.
The wood in the raised beds will also absorb heat during the day and give it up during the night, keeping the temperature inside warmer.
The same can be achieved by laying greenhouse flooring.
Now that you know what the best location for a greenhouse or polytunnel is, you are ready to reap the benefits. Happy Growing!