Site Preparation for Your DIY Greenhouse Foundation
Even the smallest of greenhouses is a heavy structure that requires proper support and anchoring to ensure it stays in place. While the foundation you choose for your DIY greenhouse is an important factor in determining the stability of the greenhouse, the preparation of the site is just as important in helping the greenhouse survive. Taking the time required to adequately clear and level the site for construction will not only save you effort when setting the foundation, it can also help the greenhouse last longer as well.
Pick the Perfect Site for Your DIY Greenhouse
Choosing the right site for your greenhouse involves providing easy access from the house as well as adequate sun exposure. Another major consideration in your greenhouse plans should be the slope and composition of the terrain where the greenhouse will be built. If you have a few choices on the location of your DIY greenhouse, try and select one with relatively flat ground that provides adequate drainage and isn’t located near larger trees. This flatter ground will make setting the foundation easier and allow you to more easily level the finished structure. Avoiding roots from trees can help when digging the footing and will also eliminate the threat of expanding roots damaging a foundation in the future.
Site Preparation Is Based On Your Foundation Choice
The type of site preparation you’ll need to do for your greenhouse is determined by the size of the structure as well as your selection of foundation. For smaller foundations that are built directly on the ground, you’ll simply need to clear the area of grass and other debris and level the ground. You’ll also want to clear any weeds and larger rocks from the area to make leveling easier and avoid Some of the larger greenhouse plans call for the foundations to be set on top of a layer of gravel for proper support so be sure to check with your local building codes before you start.
For more involved foundations that need to be set below the frost line in colder climates, the site preparation is a little more involved. With this type of foundation there will be some digging and trenching required to set a deeper foundation. While this excavation can be done by hand for smaller foundations, having a trencher can make digging a larger foundation much easier.
The Soil Plays an Important Role
While many locations will provide an adequate base for your greenhouse, you need to consider the soil in the location you are selecting. You want to try and avoid areas where the soil is loosely packed. This can occur when an area has been leveled off with fill dirt, especially in areas of new construction. While this looser dirt may seem stable, it will slowly settle over time and cause the foundation and greenhouse above it to move. If you are forced to locate your greenhouse in a part of the yard with loose soil you’ll need to compact the ground as much as possible and add a layer of a more stable material like crushed stone to the surface. This top layer of stone will help to stabilize the ground for your DIY greenhouse and minimize the effect of the soil settling over time. It also helps to more evenly distribute the weight of the greenhouse across the foundation to eliminate any cracking from stress.
Be Sure To Provide Adequate Anchoring
The final consideration in preparing a location for your new DIY greenhouse is anchoring it firmly to its base. This is an important thing do and will help the structure resist high winds in the area. Even though these winds may not actually flip the greenhouse, they can still cause it to shift in its position if it’s not anchored properly, which can lead to damage. With a more involved cement foundation, the greenhouse will be attached to the foundation with bolts to prevent any movement. Using a smaller foundation that sits directly on the ground will require a little more work. This type of foundation needs to be more firmly anchored to the ground to prevent movement. Most greenhouse plans suggest driving steel stakes into the ground around the perimeter of the DIY greenhouse and then attaching them to the foundation for support. This is an easy way to ensure the foundation stays where you intended and is another great reason to remove any larger rocks before starting the project.