8 Greenhouse Setup Ideas to Make Your Life Easier

Greenhouse setup ideas

So, you need greenhouse setup ideas because you have decided to grow plants year-round? Or perhaps you are looking to extend your gardening season by starting earlier and finishing later than your climate would normally allow? Maybe you are even interested in trying your luck at growing plants that normally would not survive in your area. Whatever your reason for using a greenhouse, you want it to be as effective as possible. This includes increased production, but to make that happen, it is critical that your greenhouse setup ideas work with you, not against you. There is much more to successful greenhouse growing than just throwing down some seeds and hoping for the best. Organization and efficiency are the keys and we are going to discuss some amazing greenhouse organization ideas that will make your gardening endeavors practically effortless.

Why greenhouse organization is important

Whether your greenhouse is large or small, it still only has a certain amount of space. Every inch of that space must be used in the best way possible. To illustrate this point, picture the following scenario:

You have a 10 x 20 greenhouse that is 8 feet high. There is an aisle down the middle, and on one side you have chosen to grow short flowers. On the opposite side, you have chosen to grow radishes and carrots. None of these require more than 6 inches of height. That leaves you with a greenhouse that has 7 feet, 11.5 inches of wasted space that is just sitting there! There is so much more that could be done with just a little bit of thought. Just one example is building shelves above each side so that you can store all the essential items you really need when you are in the greenhouse.

When you are unable to find the items you need quickly, new greenhouse setup ideas are in order. If you could not find something quickly in your refrigerator, you would take the time to reorganize, right? The same principle applies to your greenhouse organization.

What is the best greenhouse layout?

Obviously, there is no one perfect way that everyone will agree with when it comes to the best greenhouse layout. How it is laid out depends on the size of your greenhouse and what you are planning on using it for. But there are some basic greenhouse setup standards that will apply regardless.

The first thing you need to do is get out that pen and paper. Draw the shape of your greenhouse and fill it in with what you want to have in it. Then take a critical look at your ideas. Do they make sense? Are they efficient? Could they be improved upon? The answers on your first attempt will likely be no, no, and yes!

This is where zoning comes in extremely handy. The most popular way to separate the zones inside a greenhouse is by having a water area, a storage area, a potting area, and areas for both edible and non-edible plants.

By organizing your greenhouse into zones, you will be much more able to put things together sensibly.

Greenhouse zoning example

Imagine you divide your greenhouse setup into, say, six zones, leaving an aisle down the middle. Here’s an idea of what that might look like:

  • Most greenhouses have a door at each end so having storage at both ends is beyond useful. One storage end could be for gardening tools and related implements. The other end could be used to store homemade fertilizers, compost, pest control mixtures, and soils. Whichever side of the aisle the storage is on by one entrance, put it on the opposite side at the other door. This way, one area will not have more shade or sun than the other.
  • Now you have used up half a zone in each end. For the other half of each zone, put a small worktable or bench. Now you have space to work, and there are four zones left.
  • Place high shelving units along at least two zones with plenty of shelves within each unit. You will be amazed at how many plant pots you are able to place along these.
  • In one of your middle zones should be where you have some form of water source. Whether you have a dedicated hose or are using a rainwater collection barrel, placing it in the middle gives you easy access for watering all of your plants.
  • Your final zone could either be used as a vertical growing bed for produce like string beans or cucumbers, or it could also contain shelving for smaller plants, hand tools, or greenhouse supplies.

The possibilities are endless, but you get the general idea!

Our top greenhouse setup ideas

1. Greenhouse shelving ideas

Since you’ve already built your greenhouse, you likely have some ambitious gardening plans! While putting together the nuts and bolts, your thoughts kept turning to perennial cuttings, winter tomatoes, and the stunning tropical plants you are going to grow. What you may not have thought of, though, is where you are going to put everything!

Staging is the most critical aspect of greenhouse organization if you want to be successful. If you have nowhere to put the plants you are growing, all you are doing is basically wasting your time and effort. Seedlings and plants could be put in pots on the ground, but soil temperature, pests, and diseases are much harder to control. A perfect solution? Greenhouse shelving!

Whether you build them yourself or purchase them pre-built, it is essential to have shelving with certain specifications. You want your shelving to be clever and efficient. Shelving is, after all, vital for making complete use of your greenhouse’s height. The material can be anything you choose but consider some type of slatted design that allows for water drainage, air circulation, and light permeation. A must for shelving is having an adjustability factor, as not every tool or plant will be the exact same size.

To get even more room from each shelf, purchase some clear plastic bins with lids. Everything within will stay clean and dry, and you can tell what each bin contains with just a glance!

2. A potting bench

A spot where you do not have to bend down to seed, transplant, or pot will save you endless hours of back pain! You can get creative with this as well. Try a potting bench with a stool of the proper height for when you are spending hours planting. Having storage shelves underneath the bench and above it so there is no wasted space is also a good idea. Love hooks? Attach plenty of them to the potting bench and storage shelving, and use them to store things you need the most often like small trowels, garden twine, tiny watering cans (for small seed starter pots), scissors, and tape (to repair stems). Hanging pots that hold easy to lose items like ties, labels, dibbers, gloves, and the like are also a great addition.

By combining these space-saving greenhouse ideas, everything needed is within reach and the setup flows with the rest of the greenhouse. Plus, every inch of space is being used efficiently. If you want to make your own potting bench, there are some great DIY wooden pallet plans that you can find on the internet.

3. Trash and compost

Although this may seem obvious, many people overlook the need to throw things out when they are working in the greenhouse. Doing it as you go along is much more efficient than doing a massive cleanup later on! It also keeps your greenhouse organization much easier to adhere to. One of the best greenhouse layout tips I can give you is to have three separate bins. Use one for recyclable material, one for actual trash, and the final one for stuff that is compostable. Good compost is a gardener’s gold, so make sure to put everything in the bin that you can. Even weeds make great compost if they are “hot” composted. Turn your pile often to spread the heat so that they rot in rather than start to grow in the pile.

4. Greenhouse door usage

Doors are not just for opening… the back of your greenhouse doors are amazing for hanging and storage! One of my doors is made from wood and being the creative person that I am, I covered it in pegboard. Several packages of hooks later I was in storage utopia. The top portion is where I hang herbs and strings of gourds to dry. The bottom portion has square bins attached to the hooks. What I do with them varies from season to season, but I usually have them filled with various growing herbs. However, two bins are always reserved for seeds. I use envelopes to put the seeds into and then label the outside. By placing them alphabetically, I can quickly find what I am looking for.

5. Convenient water source

Let’s face it, watering your greenhouse is going to be a real chore if you have to haul water for any type of distance. If you have an exceptionally large greenhouse, you may have installed a water and irrigation system… and you have no idea how lucky you are if you can do this! For the rest of us, we need a convenient way to water that will not require lots of time.

The best greenhouse layout will have your water placed centrally inside. If you have access to a hose, then you can move all over to do your watering. For those who have a hose but no way to pressurize it, consider using a gravity-fed rain barrel. They are remarkably simple to make:

  • Place your barrel at least four feet off the ground on top of a table or bench. You can also create a platform using cinder blocks for a sturdy setup.
  • Cut a hole near the bottom of the barrel that is slightly wider than the width of your hose.
  • Cut the opposite end of the hose from the spray end at the length you wish the hose to be.
  • Stick the cut end of the hose through and seal around the hole.
  • When you press down on the sprayer, gravity will force the water through the hose and right into your thirsty plants!

You can also fill up watering cans and spray off dirty boots with your newly pressurized water! If you have the room, consider adding in a small utility sink. Sinks make it much easier to wash pots, tools, and other items you may not want to drag into the house.

5. Storage to the rafters

Many people never think to look up when it comes to storage space unless they are planning to hang something. But the crossbars that support your greenhouse are an excellent use of space. They are the perfect spot to store any tools with long handles that will not fit into your traditional storage cupboards. And this is much safer than just propping them up randomly against the wall. You can also use rafters to store extra pieces of wood for making garden beds or shelves!

6. Raise up the beds

There is no rule that says plants must stay on the ground. If you need plenty of storage space, try your hand at making beds on four legs. You will still be able to do all of the growing, but you will also have a ton of space for storing all your essentials right underneath. Keep in mind that you may want to use covered plastic storage boxes so that no moisture gets into anything. When considering greenhouse setup ideas, this one is definitely something to keep in mind. Even larger greenhouses can benefit from the extra room that this way of growing offers.

7. Getting back and forth

Let’s face it, lugging heavy bags of dirt around is hard work. And there are plenty of other heavy things that need to be moved around inside a greenhouse on a regular basis. If you are looking to save some strain on your back, consider using a portable workbench on wheels. This does double duty because not only is a stress-free way to move items, you can work wherever you need to. No more dozens of trips carrying seedling pots of veggies from the potting station to the shelves. All you need to do is place them on the bench and wheel them to their desired location.

8. Every seed has its day

Even beginner gardeners know not to plant every seed at the same time as others. Similarly, different crops take different lengths of time to grow. You need a greenhouse organization system for all your seeds so you don’t forget anything! At the start of the calendar year, purchase a calendar with boxes large enough to write in easily. Go through all of your seeds and mark on the calendar exactly when they need to be planted. Once they have been planted, also mark the calendar with the expected date of harvest. You will never forget to plant another crop again! Additionally, take several lengths of string and using one for each month, pin the seeds to them. Then simply attach the string to the corresponding page in the calendar!

How to maximize space in a small greenhouse

The general rule is that anything under 65 square feet is considered to be a small greenhouse. If you fall into this category, one idea that you can work with is layering. When growing your plants, the idea behind layering is to plant one crop on top of another. The bottom crop should take longer to germinate than the top one. This way you get two harvests out of one space. And excellent example would be planting cress on top of a crop like carrots. Cress can be harvested multiple times before the carrots really begin to emerge! Another example would be leaf lettuce on top of parsnips.

Building raised beds with storage underneath is a must for small spaces. This will also leave you with plenty of room to grow vertical crops like pole beans. You are able to get a bountiful harvest with just a few square feet. Strawberries and cucumbers are also great vertical crops to consider. You can also use hanging baskets attached to the rafters to grow various herbs or flowers. This makes excellent use of dead air space.

Depending on the floor of your greenhouse, there is also the choice to dig underground storage space. This could be used for storing soils, compost, seed pots, and numerous other items. Plastic tubs that are strategically placed around the greenhouse can hold items that you need to reach for constantly. Use hooks with hanging baskets wherever possible. The amount of space that these will free up are worth the greenhouse setup time. If you find that you use buckets often but have nowhere to put them, invest in some collapsible rubber ones. Once it is empty you simply fold it down and store it flat until the next time.

Got any greenhouse setup ideas to share?

There are so many greenhouse setup ideas for you to choose from. Since there is no right way to do it, your limitation is your imagination. As you go along, it is likely that you will discover some of your own invention. The more creative you allow yourself to be, the better the maximization of your space will be. Proper greenhouse organization takes some planning and work, but the end result is more than worth it!


Alice is a writer who grew up on a beautiful homestead in rural Old England. She now lives in New England with her fur babies and is on a mission to return to the land for a simpler, greener, and all-round kinder existence.

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