Greenhouse Site Analysis

site plan

Site location is super important for a successful greenhouse and it’s something I didn’t think too much about initially.

At first we were concerned with finding a flat spot in my yard and somewhere close in proximity to my house where I’d be running all the utilities from. What I didn’t take into consideration was that I needed a good clear view south since the sun is shining from that direction when in the northern hemisphere. For reference my entire lot is a north facing hill (rip).

Initial location

Here’s a site plan of my property with the initial location of the greenhouse. You can see where my house, barn, landscaping, and hardscapes are located. The red region is the 10 foot setback to my neighbor’s property. This location checks all the boxes that I mentioned initially. It’s flat and pretty close to where all my utilities are at the bottom left of my house. What you can’t see here are the very tall pine trees about 25 feet south over the property line. For reference, north is up.

Initial location in January around 12:00pm.

As you can see this location would get little to no sun from around November – January. This wasn’t going to cut it. We do plan on installing grow lights to supplement during the winter months, but we don’t want to be forced to run them 100% of the time for 3 months straight.

Final location

We quickly realized that we needed to move the location out towards the field to the east to really maximize our light. After looking into it a bit more and shopping around contractor supply stores, it really wasn’t a huge budget hit to run 175 feet of gas/electrical/water/ethernet. We quickly learned that places like Home Depot were double or triple the prices of the contractor supplies.

Final site location around 9:30am in January

There was a silver lining to the new location. The greenhouse would sit right between all my sprinkler lines, so we really didn’t need to move any of them which saved us a ton of time and money.

Rules and Regulations

It would be great if I could just throw up a building in my backyard willy nilly, but you need to check a few details with the county to legally build an accessory building on your property. Here are a few of the details that I checked before we started digging.

  • The zoning for my parcel is R1 farm forest
    • This allows for 2000 sqft of accessory building space
    • I have a 10 foot setback. This means that I can’t build anything within 10 feet of my property line.
  • Building codes
    • I went down to the county office with all my plans and numbers expecting a tussle over my project.
    • I was happily surprised to find out that agricultural buildings do not need to be permitted or inspected in the typical sense.
    • You do need to fill out the paperwork stating that the project is agricultural and that this will not be used for habitation or entertainment.
    • Even though I didn’t need a permit, everything from the structure to running the utilities is built/installed to code at minimum.
  • Power and gas
    • I made sure that I called my utility providers to come mark any underground gas and electrical lines.
  • My wife gave me the go ahead to dig up the yard
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