Choosing the Right Greenhouse Flooring
The floor in your new DIY greenhouse is an important choice that affects both your comfort and your budget. While there are a wide range of options for your greenhouse flooring, most people decide based on personal preference. The floor in your greenhouse needs to be able to provide adequate drainage, support constant foot traffic and help stabilize the temperature in the building throughout the year. Each of your options has both advantages and challenges and the perfect answer may be to combine a few of them to give you the balance required.
The Many Options Available
The flooring options available for greenhouses are broadly divided into permanent and semi-permanent categories. As the name implies, permanent flooring is installed once and should last the life of the greenhouse. These flooring choices are typically more expensive but this initial cost will be the only expense you’ll have. This type of flooring includes concrete slabs, wood flooring and masonry brick. These materials are typically installed when the greenhouse is built and are durable enough to provide decades of use with minimal attention.
The Problems with a Permanent Choice
The biggest challenge with these permanent floors is that it can be uncomfortable standing on these hard surfaces for long periods while tending to your plants. You can certainly use mating near your potting bench but need to be careful of mold or mildew developing. This is also true of plants that may be sitting on the floor of the greenhouse. These permanent surfaces can also pose a drainage challenge if not installed with the proper slope and drain access. Be sure to follow your greenhouse plans carefully if you do decide to use a permanent floor to ensure you avoid these problems.
Flexibility is Key
The semi-permanent flooring has the advantage of being less expensive to install and more flexible as well. This flooring material can include pea gravel, sand, mulch, pine needles and masonry bricks. Because these materials are typically applied directly to the soil in your DIY greenhouse, you’ll need to install some type of weed barrier to the ground first to prevent problems later. Once this barrier is laid you can create the flooring for your DIY greenhouse using any of these materials and customize it for your needs. Some of the more popular greenhouse plans call for the masonry bricks to be installed as a center isle in the greenhouse with another material like pea gravel or pine needles along the sides. This allows you to have a stable base for walking through the building and areas on either side of the main pathway that will provide all the drainage your plants require.
One of the challenges with the semi-permanent flooring is its durability. While it may initially be a less expensive option when compared to permanent floors, it will need to be replaced as it ages. This is less of a problem with more durable materials like pea gravel but occurs more regularly with mulch and pine needles that will have to be refreshed every few years as they decompose. You may be able to minimize this expense by finding a local source for these materials that might be willing to trade for some homegrown vegetables from your greenhouse.
The other major advantage to using a semi-permanent floor is its flexibility. You can easily rearrange the materials as your needs in the greenhouse change from season to season. This allows you to use your greenhouse more fully and grow a wider variety of plants and vegetables throughout the year. Because this type of flooring is simply placed on top of the original soil, it is also easier to move or disassemble the greenhouse later if you ever decide to eliminate it. Permanent flooring choices don’t allow you this level of flexibility but still make a great choice for a larger greenhouse you know will be in use for some time.