Monthly Archives: December 2016

Information About Greenhouse Design

Greenhouse design is dependent on how you intend to use your greenhouse and your budget. There is a wide range of materials and equipment available to choose from, with an equally wide range of costs and uses. That being said, it’s important to educate yourself on what’s out there before you shop, so that you get what you need and stay under cost.

Greenhouse Covers

Installing the right greenhouse cover is perhaps the most important part of greenhouse construction. It determines how much light gets through, how much heat gets trapped in, and it can play a large role in determining the life span of your greenhouse. When it comes to greenhouse design, the cover is not a place where you want to pinch pennies.

Glass—While traditional greenhouses were covered with glass, this is one of the least efficient, heat-retaining materials, and one of the most fragile. Unless you purchase specialty reinforced glass, this is a cover you should stay away from.
Fiberglass—Fiberglass is an excellent choice for greenhouse construction, since it scatters light to create a virtually shadowless greenhouse. Fiberglass usually comes in corrugated form and is translucent rather than transparent. It also retains heat much more efficiently than glass. The only downside: fiberglass will deteriorate from sun exposure over time if it isn’t regularly treated with a protective gel.
Polycarbonate—UV-treated polycarbonate provides much of the clarity of glass, yet is stronger and more resistant to impact than other greenhouse glazings. It also diffuses light well to minimize shadows in the greenhouse.
Polyethylene Film—Polyethylene film covers about 90 percent of all greenhouse square footage in the U.S. Its popularity with commercial growers is due to its low cost and simple maintenance. Unfortunately, it rarely lasts more than two to five years, which turns off many homeowners.

Greenhouse Frames

Once you’ve settled on a cover, you’re ready to move on to the next step in greenhouse design and choose the material for your frame. Your choice of framing is going to depend in a large extent on the cover, since different covers require differing levels of support.

Galvanized Steel Frames—Galvanized steel is used in most commercial greenhouses because it is long lasting and inexpensive. It also requires less framework than other options, due to its strength, which means more light in the greenhouse. It is usually covered in polyethylene film.
Aluminum Frames—Aluminum frames are usually used with glass or rigid coverings such as polycarbonate. It can be anodized in many colors and has low-maintenance requirements. It is not as strong as steel, so it will require more extensive framing and cause more shadow, but it’s still considered an excellent framing material.
PVC Pipe—PVC pipe has become increasingly popular as a frame for greenhouses over the last five to ten years because of its rock bottom cost, portability, and ease of installation. This is the most economical option when covered with polyethylene film, though it won’t hold up to severe weather or harsh winters nearly as well as other materials.

Other Greenhouse Equipment

Though the frame and cover are the most important aspects of your greenhouse design, there are many other options to consider. Installing lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation systems are all critical if you hope to have a successful, year round greenhouse. This is where your budget really comes into play. If you don’t have any limitations when it comes to cost, you can build your own botanical garden right in your own backyard. If the final price is an issue, then you’ll want to evaluate your greenhouse design carefully to see which extras you can do without. A contractor experienced in greenhouse construction and greenhouse design is a great resource when it comes to designing, and putting up, a greenhouse that both fits your budget and meets your needs.

How To Make Portable and Mini Greenhouses

Many gardeners feel the subtle pings of disappointment when winter comes around. They put away shovel and spade and wait, as patiently as possible, for the ground to thaw. There are a hardy few, however, that manage to maintain at least a small garden all year round in their greenhouses.

A greenhouse will certainly allow folks in even the more harsh climates to practice their trade despite the chill of winter. Unfortunately, greenhouses cost money to build and to maintain; and even small greenhouses require at least a plot of land. Or do they?

The Mini Greenhouse

That modern marvel, the mini greenhouse, may be the answer you’ve been searching for! Mini greenhouses are designed to hold just a few plants and can be put almost anywhere. Space is no longer an issue for people who want to have at least a couple of plants growing throughout the year.Mini greenhouses are as diverse in style and design as their larger counterparts. The smallest ones look like umbrellas, though taller and more conical. They are perfect for covering single plants and are very easy to use and put up. If you want to keep just a couple of single plants growing outside all year, these umbrella type mini greenhouses are for you.A cold frame mini greenhouse is a small box made of the same material that a normal greenhouse is composed of. They will house several young or small plants and are great for starting seedlings while the weather is still cold. These models can easily fit on a balcony with room to spare.If you’ve got a bit more space, a mini lean-to or larger cold frame greenhouse will provide significantly more room to grow on. An excellent choice for the avid gardener with an itch for more than a few winter crops.

Prices for these little beauties range from around $20 for a simple umbrella design, to around $300 for a larger mini model.

The Portable Greenhouse

Another option for a gardener wishing to dabble in year round growing is the portable greenhouse. Simple to erect and take down, the portable greenhouse is easy to store in the garage or basement when not in use. Though often not sturdy enough to be a permanent fixture, it’ll do the job of keeping your plants safe and warm between regular growing seasons.Portable greenhouses are much less expensive than a conventional greenhouse of the same size. This makes them a great choice for beginners looking to try their hand at greenhouse gardening without a large initial investment. Prices range from $30 to the mid $100’s. Since they can also be used as a temporary tool shed, a portable greenhouse can still be a sound investment if and when you decide to install a permanent one!

Know More About Xeriscaping Conserves Your Energy

When people hear the words “desert landscaping” they immediately imagine cacti, driftwood, tumbleweeds, and a bunch of concrete. This is called zero-scaping, and though it is certainly an option that requires no maintenance, it is also a bit of a downer because there’s no personality to it. Just because you live in a dry climate and want to conserve water doesn’t mean your yard can’t be full of life. You want to embrace your natural setting while still retaining some color and foliage along the way.

Therefore, xeriscaping has become a very popular choice among homeowners. It literally translates from Greek as “dry scene” (xeriscape), and it helps to conserve water and energy by allowing a yard to match its natural landscape and climate. Why live in the desert and try to make your lawn look like a forest? Instead, embrace and showcase the setting.

Less Maintenance, More Savings

Though water conservation is one of the main benefits of xeriscaping, a lot of financial advantages can be reaped from this landscape as well. One of the biggest reasons to invest in “dry design” is not only because it is environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing, but it also brings you big savings. You no longer have to fight the climate and force your lawn to act unnaturally. By giving into the landscape itself, you’re on the winning side of a losing battle. Preserving water isn’t just a smart thing to do; it saves you money on bills. You also don’t have to fertilize as much. There is less of a need for pest control and expensive chemicals. There will be less maintenance, less pruning, and no more wasteful trimmings. All of this will help save the environment while saving you time, effort, and money.

Preplanning

But, in order for it to be successful, there are certain preparations that need to be made. You’ll probably need to work with a professional landscaper to get it done right the first time, but here are some things to always keep in mind.
Appropriate Planting

First, any quality xeriscaping will need the right kinds of plants. Typically, these are native species that require less water and can withstand the heat. Although you want drought-tolerant plants, it doesn’t mean they all have to be cactus and yucca. In fact, there are many types of tough desert lawns, turfs, and flowers that grow bright and colorful. Buy plants that can be deeply rooted and are bred to endure harsh climates. Also, as you install your vegetation, make sure that you plant in groupings for better water efficiency.

Water Conservation

Conserving water is important, whether it’s your choice or the government’s. Buying plants that require less moisture will help, but there are other ways to preserve as well. First, try to invest in a drip-irrigation system. This sprinkler system runs along pipes throughout your lawn and slowly drips water directly onto the vegetation. It acts as a gentle rainfall or a dewy morning. This not only cuts down on wasteful inaccuracy (no need to water your home’s siding and driveway) and over-watering, it also prevents immediate evaporation into the air by high winds. But if you do use traditional sprinklers, make sure to water in the mornings or evenings when the soil is more primed to soak up moisture.

Soil Conservation

Desert soil is naturally impervious to water conservation. It quickly soaks it up, dries it out, and lifts if back into the atmosphere. An easy solution is mulching as much as possible. It cools off the ground, holds water, and cuts down on energy bills and maintenance costs. But you can also plan bigger projects, such as re-structuring your soil so that plants can retain any moisture for a longer period of time. It’s not easy, nor cheap, but once you’ve put time and energy into the initial investment, you’ll get a return on your money in no time.

One Last Tip

Though xeriscaping is a very popular trend in dry climates (such as the West and Southwest) it may not be as common or successful in other areas of the country. Therefore, check with your neighbors and homeowner’s association to see if this re-design is allowed. But even if desert landscaping itself isn’t permitted, the philosophy behind the design is still applicable. If you live in the Midwest or Northeast, match your yard to fit your region’s natural landscape and climate. Succumbing to the natural world, no matter where you live, will lead to less work and bigger savings.