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Greenhouse covering best practices from start to finish

Greenhouse coveringConstructing new greenhouse structures or updating current ones is an exciting time for your business. It can also be a little daunting because of the financial investment and issues that can arise in the building process.

When it comes to building a greenhouse, you might do it yourself, be the project manager who oversees the construction, or hire out the entire process. Whatever method you choose, you want to work with people who understand your needs, supply you with quality parts, and get the job done in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Prepping for construction

It’s important when it comes to construction that everyone is on the same page. In an article by Leigh Coulter called “Best Practices for Commercial Greenhouse Construction Projects” by GGS Structures Inc., a kickoff meeting is highly recommended to make sure all pieces of the process work together. Suppliers and installers should be communicating with each other toward a common goal—building a greenhouse that best fits your needs.

When it comes to a construction project, you likely have a budget in mind and the method in which you’re going to pay all planned out. Excellent. Now what happens when the inevitable surprise issue arises that adds more costs to the project? If possible, planning for such an event and setting aside additional money as a contingency plan will help alleviate a lot of stress.

Along those same lines, plan additional time in the build process for unforeseen issues, such as poor weather that pushes back work for several days. Flexibility in the schedule will help keep everyone at ease.

Track your progress

With each construction project, there are certain timetables or checkpoints you want to hit. Keep track of those milestones and gauge them against the progress being made.

Coulter recommends a GANTT chart that outlines the start and end times for all the elements that are going into your greenhouse build. By keeping track of the progress, you can address any red flags that may appear on the horizon.

Plastic installation tips

The key element in a greenhouse structure is the covering. According to ACF Greenhouses, before installation, the covering should be stored in a dry, cool area with no exposure to direct sunlight or rain. Other installation tips for greenhouse coverings include:

  • Start early: Installation should take place in the morning, when wind speeds are at their lowest
  • Wait until it’s warm: Temperatures should be between 59–70 degrees
  • Think white: Paint greenhouse frame members white or use white foam tape where it contacts with the covering to prevent heat buildup and advanced degradation
  • Avoid tears: Do not drag covering over sharp objects when unrolling or placing over the frame structure
  • Stretch it out: Stretch the covering over the structure and pull out all wrinkles to avoid flapping in the wind—but don’t overstretch

Maintenance

Like all structures, your greenhouse covering needs upkeep. This isn’t something you put up and forget about. Repair any tears or holes in a timely manner with tape designed for use on polyethylene films.

You also want to control the temperature of your greenhouse. Temperatures above 115 degrees can weaken polyethylene film and damage contents in the greenhouse. You can help control greenhouse temperatures with:

  • External fans
  • Fan system
  • Evaporative cooling system
  • External shade cover

Excessive humidity should also be avoided. One way is the use of drip control films that sheet water so it flows into the ground or gutters.

According to ACF Greenhouses, you should also avoid the following chemicals that lead to degradation of greenhouse film: banrot, bromoxynil, captan, chloropicrin, chlorine gas, chlorine bleach, chlorpyrifos, copper sulfate, diazinon, dienochlor, dithiocarbmates, fluvalinate, formetanate, hydrochloride, iprodione, mancozeb, metham sodium, methomyl, PNCB, silver thiosulfate, and vinclozolin.

We’ve got more greenhouse installation tips and suggestions. If interested, contact your Hortica agent or check out our website.