I am super-duper excited that we have been able to start the creation of our dream garden. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but one of the biggest challenges are now done- the assembly of our lean to greenhouse.
Neither of us have ever bought or built a greenhouse, so this was a completely new experience for us. Before I jump into the ‘how to’, I’ll list out things you should pay attention to and consider.
Things to consider before choosing & buying your greenhouse.
- Do your research – as with any big and small purchase, make sure you research what you want. Don’t be shy to visit garden centres that have greenhouses for sale to check them out.
- Size – we thought- if the greenhouse is smaller than the space we were planning to install it in, it will be fine. It won’t. After placing our order the installation team contacted us and said that there is not enough space to install it. You need about 1m on all sides, we had less than 30cm. Continue reading below how we overcame this issue.
- Lead time – since the beginning of the pandemic, majority of families have been spending much more time on doing up their houses & gardens. Which in turn have increased the lead time for greenhouses as well. We had a 12 week lead time. Just make sure you check this before ordering and arranging any extra work.
- Installation – as already mentioned, originally we planned for professionals to install it (cost roughly £350), but due to the sizing issues, we did it ourselves. Without breaking any glass, may I add. Believe me when I say- it is not as scary to do, as it might seem. If you are tight on budget or having issues with finding someone to do it, consider doing it yourself.
- Check your delivery – as with any delivery you receive, before you start assembling, make sure you have all the parts and items there. You should have an item list with your greenhouse- so check it against that.
- Tools – you will need the basic tools- spanners, screwdriver, scissors. If you are fixing it against a wall (lean to greenhouse), it’s worth borrowing a drill with a hammer function, to make drilling into masonry easier.
- Here is a link – click here – the one we ordered.
Right, before I go onto our assembly journey, I’ll quickly tell you about the size issues we had.
Originally we ordered a stand alone greenhouse, one you automatically think of. After lots of back & forth with the installation team, they did not want to do it, as there was not enough space. Following this, we change specification of the greenhouse & the size. We changed from 8ft 5″ x 5ft 3″ to a lean to greenhouse – 8ft 5″ long x 4ft 4″ wide. Which gave about 40-50cm around the greenhouse, this still wasn’t enough for the installation team. So we did it ourselves! Our dream garden is slowly taking shape!
To make it slightly easier, I’ll break down the installation process according to how we did it.
Step 1 – Prepare the base
For you to install the greenhouse, you will need to consider where (orientation and space available) you are going to install your greenhouse, is the ground level and well compacted or will you need to create a new solid base. There are many options you could choose; fully concrete base, concrete trench, concrete trench with brick edgings for the greenhouse to sit on, fully slabbed base, slabbed perimeter, permeable plastic crate base, etc. We chose a slabbed perimeter with a gravel centre to allow the water to run off.
I dug the area of slabbing to allow enough depth for 50mm hardcore, 25mm sand and cement (dry mix – 5 parts sand to 1 part cement) and 32mm for the slab depth. I then filled in the hardcore and compacted it using a rammer. Using a builders bucket I hand mixed (using a shovel) the dry mix of cement and poured this over the compacted hardcore and levelled used a spirit level and timber board. Finally I laid the slabs (450 x 450 x 32mm – Marshalls Riven Buff Slabs), making sure I only did a small section at a time to avoid the cement setting when laying the slabs. Once complete I went over the slabs again to check any level issues and adjusted the slabs to suit. I then mixed a stronger dry mix of cement for the joints, filled and brushed.
Step 2 – Clear space in the garden where you will build the frame
As you will be building the frame one section at a time, make sure you have extra space to lay down all the parts and build it. Once each part/ section has been built, we leant them against our fence and neighbouring garage wall.
Step 3 – Check all the items are there
Before you dive fully into the building mode- check you have all items against the item list in the instructions (there should be one)
Step 4 – Follow the instructions and build one section at a time. Don’t fix the door until after glass has been installed.
Do follow the instructions your greenhouse has come with. Some steps and parts are easier than others, so make sure you read all the steps for each part before starting. With the assembly instructions we had, we found that there were a lot of written instructions and not enough pictures explaining each step. We thought it would have been much easier, if the instructions would have been done as Ikea ones- ‘How To’ pictures. As some steps were long paragraphs, which made it more tricky to understand what needed to be done.
Step 5 – Clear your installation place
Sweep the area where you will be installing the greenhouse, make sure you don’t have any loose stones on the base.
Step 6 – Align the frame, make sure it’s all square
As with every assembly, make sure everything lines up & all parts fit together before you fix them to each other and the base.
Step 7 – For lean to only – align, check and mark where to secure in the wall
For lean to greenhouse – once you have fixed the 3 sides and the top together, move it to the wall you will be fixing it to. Check every corner is square (90 degrees), level and nothing is leaning to one side more than other. Before you start drilling the holes where you will fix your greenhouse to, check it several times before you mark it & fix it.
Step 8 – Install the glass, 2 person job, fairy liquid for the sleeves
This is the part that took us the least amount of time, but is definitely the scariest. This is a 2 person job and you will need a step ladder. We started with the roof and furthest panes. I was on the inside guiding the glass pane & James was on the outside lifting it up. Again, I sound like a broken record, but you need to get the glass pane straight, so you have an even gap on each side for the clips. If there is not enough space for the clip, you have to take the glass out and put it in again.
On some glass panes you will need to add the plastic sleeve. To make it easier to add it on the glass and reducing the chances of breaking the glass while you do it, here is what we did:
- used a screwdriver to make the slit in the plastic more loose
- used washing up liquid to make it slide on the glass pane more easy
Step 9 – Install the door & its glass
To make it easier, install the glass in the door first and then fix it to the greenhouse.
Step 10 -Accessories
We didn’t order any staging or shelves at the same time, as I wasn’t sure what layout I wanted. After we put the greenhouse up and I moved some of my gardening things in there- I knew how I wanted it to look. The staging and shelves we ordered were from Elloughton Greenhouses and the lead time was 5-6 weeks.
If you are unsure on how exactly you want the inside layout to look- don’t feel pressured to order it all in one go. I would advise you to get a water butt as well. You will be surprised how much water it does collect (even a lean to) and you can use it to water all your greenhouse plants.
The greenhouse has become one of my happy places! I love spending time in there repotting my plants or planting something for winter, or just re-arranging things in there. It’s my little escape and has become an integral part of our dream garden design.
When I started writing this blog we had just put the greenhouse up, but now when I’m finishing it- we’ve done so much more to the greenhouse and the garden.
If you are looking for ideas or inspiration. Or maybe a little ‘how to’ help- stick around, as there will be plenty more dream garden blog posts coming up. If you’ve missed it, here is the first instalment – Design of our dream garden – link here.
My main advice to you is – read the instructions and watch the installation videos. Don’t be scared to undo a part you’ve done if it’s not right. Everything needs to match.