Choosing the perfect location for a greenhouse can be daunting. There are so many factors to consider, and the pressure to choose the right site the first time around is even higher if you are building a permanent greenhouse. Have you found the ideal spot but are concerned because it is right next to a fence?
You can build a greenhouse next to a fence but allow 1 to 2 meters of space on all sides for ease of installation, maintenance, and to avoid shading the greenhouse or hindering its ventilation. Your town, county, or HOA may require you to get permission if you want to build it within 5 feet of your property line.
It is often tough to strike a balance between choosing a site for a greenhouse that is aesthetically pleasing as well as optimal in terms of sun exposure, shade, proximity to the house, other outbuildings, and boundary fences.
Basics of Siting a Greenhouse
Before we get into considering building a greenhouse next to a fence, let us first recap the fundamental factors to think of when choosing a good site for a greenhouse:
- Light. Choose a spot that gets lots of sun during the day in summer and winter. Avoid building it under trees, as these cast shade and branches may fall on the greenhouse damaging it.
- Aspect. If you are only using the greenhouse in summer,build it so that the ridge of the roof runs from north to south. This will ensure that both sides of the greenhouse get the same amount of sunshine. For maximum sunlight in winter, position the greenhouse so that the ridge of the roof runs from east to west.
- Convenience. You will need to visit your greenhouse often, so build it close to your house for maximum convenience. Also, think of proximity to a water tap and an electric socket.
- Level ground. Build a greenhouse on a level surface, not on a slope.
- Space. Allow at least 1 meter of space on all four sides of the greenhouse.
Can You Site a Greenhouse Next to a Fence?
You can build a greenhouse next to a fence, provided that the fence does not shade the greenhouse excessively or obstruct the air vents.
The only reason you wouldn’t be allowed to build a greenhouse next to a fence is if you have a utility easement in your area. That means the town or county requires a certain distance around your property line (usually 5 feet) to be free and clear for any maintenance that could be needed.
It may actually be advantageous to build your greenhouse next to a fence, as it can act as a windbreak, sheltering your structure from harsh, cold wind. This will keep the temperature inside the greenhouse more stable.
Experienced greenhouse growers recommend leaving at least a meter of space between a fence and a greenhouse for the following reasons:
- Greenhouses require maintenance.
- Fences require maintenance.
To prevent green algae from growing on the greenhouse material, you will need to clean it from time to time. After years of use, you may also need to replace a panel or two. These chores are much easier if there is space to move around the greenhouse on all sides.
Fences, especially ones made of wood, are prone to rotting and breaking over time. Do not build your greenhouse directly against a fence, as you will need to access the fence to fix and paint it.
Due to the fertile growing conditions inside a greenhouse, many weeds will grow around the outside of the structure. Having enough space on all side of the greenhouse to weed is helpful to keep your garden looking tidy.
Here’s a quick video about building a lean-to greenhouse next to a fence with more info below:
Building a Lean-To Greenhouse Against a Fence
If you are short on space in your garden, a lean-to greenhouse is a perfect solution. These greenhouses are designed to be space-efficient, as they are made to lean against a wall or fence. The wall of fence acts as the back wall of the greenhouse, and the roof slants downward and away from it, shedding rainwater.
There are several advantages of a lean-to greenhouse:
- It can fit in even the smallest of spaces.
- The wall or fence provides total structural stability.
- Easy to install shelving.
- The wall or fence captures and retains heat, radiating it back into the greenhouse space.
Before you install a lean-to greenhouse against a fence, ensure that the fence is sturdy and in good condition. The fence needs to be totally straight, and the planks should be treated so that they do not rot.
If you are going to be using shelving in the lean-to greenhouse to maximize growing space inside, ensure that the fence material is strong enough and thick enough to mount shelves onto.
Is Planning Permission Required for Building a Greenhouse?
Some local governments require that you seek approval before building additional structures on your property, especially in urban residential areas.
Generally, you do not need planning permission for a greenhouse, especially ones made of metal hoops covered in plastic. However, there are some scenarios where you may be required to seek planning permission for your greenhouse:
- If the greenhouse is sited less than 2 meters from the property boundary, and the height of the roof exceeds 2.5 meters (8.3 foot).
- If your greenhouse is going to have a raised base so that the ridge of the roof is higher than 4 meters (13.2 foot) or the height of the eaves is greater than 2.5 meters (8.3 foot).
- If your greenhouse is sited in the front of the house, and it has not replaced an existing outbuilding.
- If your greenhouse is sited where it will be highly visible to neighbors and passers-by.
- If more than 50% of your garden is occupied by outbuildings.
- If your house or property is listed as a historic or architecturally significant building.
- If your property is in a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
You can build a greenhouse next to a fence, but there are a few things to keep in mind:
- The fence should not shade the greenhouse too much.
- It should not block or hinder the air vents.
- Leave at least a meter of space on all sides of the greenhouse to allow for easy cleaning, weeding, and maintenance.
There are even some benefits to building a greenhouse next to a fence:
- The fence acts as a windbreak, sheltering the greenhouse from strong gusts that can cause damage to the plastic over time.
- Having a windbreak also helps to keep the greenhouse temperature warmer and more stable.
Lean-to greenhouses are designed to be built against a wall or fence. They are perfect for small gardens where you need to maximize growing space. However, bear this in mind before building a lean-to greenhouse against a fence:
- Ensure that the fence is completely straight, as the greenhouse will be mounted to it.
- The strength and thickness of the fencing material must be considered, as shelving must be mounted to it.
- The fence must be in good condition and treated with paint or sealant to ensure that it does not rot or crumble.
If you are concerned about building your greenhouse next to a fence due to local by-laws that govern the building of additional structures on a property, it is best to consult with your local council or planning authority.
You may need to apply for planning permission if you want to build a greenhouse that is higher than 2.5 meters (8.3 foot) less than 2m away from the property boundary or fence.