How to Set Up Your Greenhouse for Success

Attention, seasoned gardeners and green-thumbs-in-the-making embarking on a greenhouse journey! In this post, we will guide you through the steps to create a flourishing garden greenhouse. We’ll cover everything you need to know, so let’s dig in and transform your gardening experience.

1. Choosing the right location

BillyOh Switch Apex Wooden Greenhouse
BillyOh Switch Apex Wooden Greenhouse

Selecting the right site for your greenhouse is crucial for its success. The ideal location balances several key factors:

  1. Sunlight: Most plants in a greenhouse thrive with ample sunlight. Look for a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Consider the path of the sun across seasons. A south-facing location often works best in the Northern Hemisphere.
  2. Wind exposure: Greenhouses should be protected from strong winds. A location near a natural windbreak, like a fence or tree line, is ideal. However, ensure it doesn’t overly shade the greenhouse.
  3. Drainage: Good drainage is essential. Avoid low-lying areas prone to waterlogging. If limited options are available, elevate the greenhouse. Or improve the site’s drainage.
  4. Accessibility: The site should be easily accessible for regular maintenance, watering, and harvesting.

When choosing a location, observe the site throughout the day and seasons if you can. This helps us understand sunlight, wind patterns, and water accumulation. It will guide you to make the best choice for your greenhouse’s placement.

2. Selecting the greenhouse type and materials

BillyOh Polycarbonate Lean-To Greenhouse
BillyOh Polycarbonate Lean-To Greenhouse

Greenhouses come in various types, each with its unique features:

  1. Freestanding: These are standalone structures that offer flexibility in size and shape. They provide ample space and sunlight from all sides, ideal for large-scale gardening. However, they require more heating in colder climates due to their exposure.
  2. Lean-to: Attached to a building, lean-to greenhouses are great for space-saving. They benefit from the heat of the attached building. Yet, they have limited sunlight exposure on one side.
  3. Cold frames: Smaller and simpler greenhouse version. Cold frames are perfect for hardening off seedlings or growing cold-tolerant plants. They are low-cost but offer limited space and climate control.

Regarding materials:

  • Wood: Aesthetically pleasing and insulated wood greenhouse frames suit traditional gardens. However, they can be prone to rot and require maintenance.
  • Metal: Durable and low-maintenance, metal greenhouse frames can handle heavy glazing. But they may conduct heat and cold, affecting temperature regulation.
  • Glass: Offers excellent light transmission and longevity. However, glass is fragile and can be expensive.
  • Polycarbonate: Less expensive and more durable than glass. A polycarbonate greenhouse provides good light diffusion but can turn yellow over time.
  • Plastic sheeting: The most affordable and easiest to replace. It’s less durable and offers lower insulation than other materials.

Each greenhouse type and material has its advantages and drawbacks. This makes it crucial to choose based on your gardening needs, climate, and budget.

3. Foundational aspects

BillyOh Harvester Walk-In Aluminium Polycarbonate Greenhouse
BillyOh Harvester Walk-In Aluminium Polycarbonate Greenhouse

A solid foundation is pivotal for any greenhouse. For one, the base ensures stability, durability, and proper drainage. When building or choosing a foundation, consider the following for a successful setup:

  1. Material selection: Common materials include concrete, wood, and bricks. Concrete is durable and offers excellent stability but can be costly. Wooden foundations are more affordable but require treatment against moisture and pests. Bricks provide a balance between durability and cost but require skilled installation.
  2. Levelling the ground: Ensure the site is level. This will prevent structural issues and uneven water distribution.
  3. Drainage: Incorporate a slight slope or drainage system to prevent water accumulation.

Insulation and stability against the elements are also crucial:

  • Insulation: Proper insulation is key for temperature control. Use insulated materials for the foundation. Also, consider adding insulating layers like foam boards.
  • Stability against elements: The foundation should be sturdy enough to withstand elements. This includes wind, snow, and other environmental stresses. Anchor the greenhouse securely to the foundation to enhance stability.

A well-constructed foundation not only supports the physical structure of your greenhouse. It also contributes significantly to its overall efficiency and longevity. Top tip: Check out our guide on how to build a shed base for reference!

4. Temperature control and ventilation

BillyOh 4000 Lincoln Wooden Polycarbonate Greenhouse with Roof Vent
BillyOh 4000 Lincoln Wooden Polycarbonate Greenhouse with Roof Vent

Maintaining optimal temperatures in a greenhouse is crucial for plant health and productivity. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Thermostats and heaters: Use thermostats to monitor temperatures. During colder months, heaters can maintain a consistent, warm environment. Choose heaters based on greenhouse size and insulation.
  2. Shade cloths and cooling systems: In hot climates, use shade cloths to reduce heat. Evaporative coolers or fans can also help lower temperatures.
  3. Layered insulation: Apply bubble wrap or other insulating materials on the greenhouse walls. Doing so can help regulate heat loss during colder seasons.

Ventilation is equally important for temperature control and preventing disease:

  • Roof and side vents: These allow hot air to escape and cooler air to enter, balancing the temperature.
  • Automatic vent openers: These can be set to open at specific temperatures. Such features ensure consistent ventilation.
  • Fans: Use fans to circulate air and prevent hot or cold spots.

Effective temperature maintenance and ventilation are key to creating a thriving environment. This fosters healthy plant growth and reduces the risk of pests and diseases.

5. Lighting and shading

Natural and artificial lighting play vital roles in greenhouse gardening:

  1. Natural lighting: Maximising sunlight is essential. For one, it drives photosynthesis and influences plant growth cycles. Positioning the greenhouse to receive ample direct sunlight is crucial.
  2. Artificial lighting: Use options like LEDs or fluorescent grow lights. They especially come in handy in areas with limited sunlight or during shorter days. These lights supplement natural light. They offer the required spectrum for plant growth and extend the growing season.

To manage heat and light:

  • Shading solutions: Use shade cloths or reflective materials. Both help prevent overheating and protect plants from intense sunlight.
  • Adjustable systems: Implement retractable shades or dynamic glass. Opt for one that can be adjusted to transparency based on light intensity. This offers flexibility in controlling light and heat levels.

6. Watering and humidity management

Efficient irrigation systems ensure plants receive the right amount of water. Take note of the following:

  1. Drip irrigation: Delivers water directly to the base of each plant. This minimises water wastage and reduces the risk of leaf diseases.
  2. Overhead sprinklers: Suitable for larger greenhouses. They provide even coverage but can increase humidity levels.
  3. Capillary mats: Ideal for seedlings. These mats evenly distribute moisture from below, encouraging strong root growth.

Humidity control is equally crucial in a greenhouse setting:

  • High humidity can lead to mould and fungal diseases, while low humidity can stress plants.
  • Use hygrometers to monitor humidity levels.
  • Ventilation, dehumidifiers, or misters can be used to adjust humidity. These methods help ensure an optimal range (typically 50-70%) for plant health.

Proper irrigation and humidity management contribute to robust plant growth and disease prevention.

7. Plant selection and layout

BillyOh Rosette Hobby Aluminium Polycarbonate Greenhouse
BillyOh Rosette Hobby Aluminium Polycarbonate Greenhouse

This step involves considering the climate and space:

  1. Climate suitability: Opt for greenhouse plants that thrive within their temperature and humidity range. Tropical plants are ideal for warm, humid greenhouses. Meanwhile, cool-weather crops like lettuce and spinach suit cooler environments.
  2. Space requirements: Consider the mature size of plants. Space-consuming plants like tomatoes need more room. In contrast, herbs and leafy greens are more compact.

For efficient space utilisation and plant growth:

  • Vertical gardening: This approach maximises vertical space. Use shelves, hanging baskets, or trellis with planter box for climbers.
  • Rotating layout: Arrange plants based on their growth stages and sunlight needs. Place taller plants at the back or on the sides to avoid shading smaller ones.
  • Companion planting: Group compatible plants together to enhance growth and pest control.

With these considerations in mind, you ensure a productive greenhouse.

8. Pest control and disease management

To control pests and diseases in a greenhouse, stay watchful and use a mix of strategies:

  1. Regular monitoring: Regularly inspect plants for signs of pests or diseases. Early detection is key to effective management.
  2. Hygiene: Keep the greenhouse clean. Remove dead leaves and debris. Also, sanitise tools and containers to prevent disease spread.
  3. Natural predators: Introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs or lacewings. These helpful tiny creatures can help control pest populations naturally.
  4. Barriers and traps: Use physical barriers like insect nets and sticky traps. Such solutions can prevent and monitor pest infestations.

For control methods:

  • Organic options: Consider neem oil, insecticidal soaps, and garlic or chilli sprays. These natural alternatives deter pests without harmful chemicals.
  • Chemical control: Use chemical pesticides as a last resort. Choose products specifically designed for greenhouse use to minimise environmental impact.

9. Seasonal maintenance and upkeep

Seasonal tasks are crucial for maintaining a productive and healthy greenhouse:


  • Clean the greenhouse thoroughly.
  • Inspect and repair any structural damages.
  • Start seedlings and manage ventilation as temperatures rise.


  • Monitor and adjust ventilation and shading to control heat.
  • Regularly water and fertilise plants.
  • Watch for pests and diseases due to higher humidity.


  • Harvest mature plants.
  • Prepare for winter crops if applicable.
  • Begin reducing watering as temperatures drop.


  • Ensure adequate heating and insulation.
  • Check for drafts and repairs if necessary.
  • Plan and order seeds for the next season.

Regular maintenance checklist:

  • Monitor and adjust temperature and humidity levels.
  • Inspect plants for pests and diseases.
  • Clean and sanitise tools and surfaces.
  • Check irrigation systems for proper functioning.
  • Prune and deadhead plants as needed.

Adhering to these seasonal and regular maintenance tasks ensures your greenhouse setup thrives.


Setting up a successful greenhouse is a rewarding journey that combines 1.) careful planning with 2.) ongoing maintenance. With these tips above, you can create a thriving greenhouse environment. Remember, regular maintenance and adapting to seasonal changes are key. Use these guidelines as your foundation. And you’ll be well on your way to cultivating a lush, productive oasis that brings joy and abundance all year round.

Discover our selection of greenhouses for sale at Garden Buildings Direct. Enhance your gardening experience by exploring our potting sheds for additional storage solutions.

Up next on your reading list: How to Grow Tomatoes in a Greenhouse