Greenhouse ideas – traditional and new ways to use your garden glass house

Who says greenhouses are just for growing?
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  • With a few home comforts and a stylish addition or two, a thoughtful greenhouse can transform the purpose and look of any garden. We explore the best greenhouse ideas to create a year-round retreat for plants and people too!

    These traditional glass garden structures hold great potential to enhance any outdoor spaces.

    The main purpose of a greenhouse is to maintain a level of warmth and humidity to aid with growing plants. However new trends are emerging to show greenhouses are fast becoming the new multi-purpose garden building.

    More garden inspiration: RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 – the trends set to inspire our gardens

    ‘We see an incredible variety of uses for our Greenhouses and Glasshouses amongst customers,’ explains Tom Barry, Managing Director of Hartley Botanic. ‘As well as their obvious horticultural potential, they also allow customers to enjoy their gardens in a far richer way.’

    We’ve come up with new ways to use your greenhouse this summer – scroll down and you’ll also find some of your key greenhouse questions, answered!

    Greenhouse ideas

    1. Grow your own crops for sustainability

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    The main advantage of a greenhouse is, and will always be shielding plants from extreme temperature drops to aid with growing capabilities. The environment in a greenhouse is ideal for certain species of plants, particularly vegetables and other food crops.

    In today’s climate we are much more aware of sustainability, such as where our food comes from. The ever-popular trend for ‘grow your own’ means that greenhouses are still playing such a huge importance in our gardens for growing produce. Hartley Botanic informs us 95 percent of customers still use their greenhouses solely to grow their own produce – most of citing they do so because they wish to eat better.

    Growing your own ensures the knowledge that your food is totally organic, and many say ‘superior to supermarket equivalents’ on taste.

    2. Eat outdoors all year round

    Greenhouse ideas 1

    Image credit: Ti-Media

    Greenhouses might be ideal for shielding plants from drops in temperature, but they are also perfect for protecting us. If you love eating your breakfast, lunch or dinner outside, consider turning a greenhouse into a relaxed dining room.

    When investing in furniture opt for a table and chair in natural materials such as rattan and wood. Capitalise on the perks of a greenhouse by filling the space with potted flowers. Old wooden crates make gorgeous planters.

    3. Go small and stylish

    greenhouse ideas 2

    Image credit: Ti-Media

    You don’t need a big garden to experience the perks of a greenhouse. Consider investing in a smaller version like the one above. The three shelves offer plenty of space to nurture seedlings or smaller produce such as cherry tomatoes or salad leaves.

    Opting for a small greenhouse cabinet on wheels is a good idea. That way you can move your plants around to make sure they get the maximum sunlight to thrive.

    4. Create a wellness yoga studio

    Greenhouse ideas

    Image credit: Hartley Botanic 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show stand

    As seen at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, renowned greenhouse and glasshouse specialists Hartley Botanic transformed one of their attractive glass structures into a yoga studio. With the focus on how we can aid our mental health and wellness, we spoke to an experts to explain the benefits of creating an outdoor space for yoga and meditation.

    ‘There is something really special about practicing yoga outside and allocating a dedicated space to your practise, away from your everyday interior environment and habitual tasks,’ explains Juliet Murrell, yoga expert and founder of the House of VOGA. ‘ I regularly use my garden as a space to practice yoga in the summer.’

    ‘Having a greenhouse would mean I could maximise that feeling of freedom you experience from outdoor practise. Whatever the weather, all year round – particularly important for those of us living in the UK.’

    All you need to do to create this space is leave the centre kept clear for a yoga mat. The surrounding plants will add further tranquil and soothing vibes, ideal for a calmer yoga and meditation space.

    5. Take the inside out with interior styling

    greenhouse ideas

    Image credit: Julia Currie Photography

    A greenhouse provides the perfect place to enjoy the fruits of your labour in the garden – simply add furniture to sit back and relax. The trend for taking the indoors out is one that shows no sign of fading anytime soon. One of the best examples of styling up an outdoor space is Selina Lake’s greenhouse on display at Chelsea Flower Show 2019 (above).

    ‘Treat the greenhouse like a home extension,’ suggests Selina. ‘Add a bench covered with a picnic mattress and a pile of cushions to use as a daybed. It’s somewhere to relax, read and dream. Adding textiles will instantly soften the space and make it feel welcoming, just be aware textiles will fade in the sun. For a makeshift side table use a sturdy unturned crate.’

    See all the trends: Garden trends 2019 – we reveal the key looks and must-haves for your garden

    6. Use the space for entertaining

    greenhouse ideas

    Image request: Tim Young

    One of the most significant trends for 2019 citied around greenhouse usage, by Hartley Botanic, is to create a multi-functional space. A greenhouse allows for extended time spent outside, as an al fresco entertaining space.

    A greenhouse provides the warmth, while also proving overhead cover if the great British weather should turn. This environment can extend the length of time spent entertaining outdoors, as not to put a dampener on summer soriees. And not just for summer, there’s the potential to use our gardens for entertaining for 8 or 9 months of the year.

    7. Prepare a potting corner

    Image request: Tim Young

    Make best use of space by incorporating a potting bench in the corner of your greenhouse. Being in the same enclosure where you grow your fruit and veg makes your panting much more efficient. The dry and bright environment will allow you to work on your plants no matter the weather.

    Combine pretty with practical by storing colourful seed packets on an open stand and keeping beautiful vintage gardening books out on show.  Adding a radio will help to make the space sing with creativity.

    8. House a hobby room

    greenhouse ideas

    Image credit: Tim Young

    No space in your home for a dedicated hobby room? If you don’t mind the warmth, why not use the garden building as a room to house your hobbies. Whether you’re after a spot to sew or a place to paint, greenhouses are ideal; light, airy and bursting with beautiful blooms, creative inspiration is bound to strike!

    9. Light up your greenhouse with lanterns

    greenhouse ideas

    Image request: Tim Young

    For something a little bit different, think about lighting ideas. During dull weather add lanterns to create a cosy ambiance to counteract the grey. Adding solar powered fairy lights will add a pretty touch after the sun sets on balmy summer night.

    If your greenhouse is geared up enough to have a power socket, invest in a statement floor lamp or a statement neon ‘garden’ light.

    10. Add colour to distract from the ‘clutter’

    Image request: Tim Young

    There’s no closing the door on mess when it comes to greenhouses, but they do provide an opportunity to create a pretty garden focal point. Coordinating bright accessories such as cushions, throws and pots adds a personal touch and ensures a splash of colour all year round – a welcome sight particularly during the colder months.

    Showcase your favourite flowers in hanging baskets, tin cans, baskets and DIY planters.

    11. Dry herbs and flowers

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    The greenhouse provides the perfect place to dry all manner of herbs and flowers. Forget hanging them in the airing cupboard or in the kitchen, this is the ideal warm space to hang a line of string for attaching suspended bunches for drying.

    Related: Garden mirror ideas to flood gardens with a little ray of light

    Where should you position a greenhouse?

    Your choice of where to position your greenhouse depends on the space you have available. The most important factors are if this area catches the most sunshine in your garden, if it can be easily levelled to provide a good foundation and if it has convenient access.

    Other factors to consider include:

    • Aspect: a south or southwest facing aspect will provide the best exposure to sunlight.
    • Shelter: consider the proximity of hedges or fences that will provide shelter from the direction of the prevailing wind.
    • Trees: trees provide excessive shade, fill the gutter with leaves and there is the risk of damage during a storm.
    • Services: consider how you will route water and electricity to your chosen site.

    What can I put in a greenhouse?

    If you dream of being more sustainable and growing your own food, having a greenhouse in your garden can make this an everyday reality.

    ‘You can grow a wide range of fruits and vegetables, which can be split into cold and warm season crops,’ says Richard Baggaley, Director at The Greenhouse People.

    ‘Cold season crops like lettuce, broccoli, peas and carrots can be grown earlier and later in the season than possible outside. Warm season crops like tomatoes, peppers, chillies and cucumbers will thrive in a greenhouse during the unpredictable British summers.’

    Don’t forget your ornamental plants, too. ‘Geraniums, chrysanthemums and petunias, though able to grow outdoors in Britain, will flourish in a greenhouse, giving you an endless supply of fresh flowers for your vases,’ says Richard.

    In the peak of the summer, you will also be able to grow tropical plants like orchids, cacti and Venus flytraps.

    Feeling inspired to rethink your greenhouse?

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