In 2012, I occupied the dinky, weird little space at the back of my property and declared it my greenhouse.
As you can see, it was a somewhat underwhelming space.
Over time, I scoured recycling centres, tip shops and kerbside collections for things to fill it.
Now, the greenhouse is certainly FULL.
But it’s not great functionally. All my patchy, bitsy-bits mean that there are a more than a few workarounds in the space.
Designing A Happy Space
To paraphrase Nate Burkus, I don’t feel like my greenhouse rises up to greet me.
Actually, my greenhouse could be the space that finally sends Marie Kondo off the deep end. It’s current state certainly doesn’t spark joy.
Part of me would love a Martha-Stewart-esque space, the kind of greenhouse I could comfortably serve an elderflower martini with a side of seed raising mix and beetroot seedlings.
But frankly, I would settle for a space that didn’t resemble the lair of an over-zealous Womble.
For years, I have been collecting ideas for the ultimate potting shed on my Pinterest page.
Yet, I often forget that I have a tight budget and live in Western Australia, where we have shade houses, rather than hothouses and fancy-pants conservatories!
So despite my snooty aspirations, I should perhaps just embrace my proud scrappy resourcefulness.
Aim for a little less shabby and a little more chic!
I’m currently designing a new greenhouse renovation. But first, I need to figure out what I need and what I don’t need.
All the magic happens at the potting bench! My current potting bench is a recycled teak TV cabinet I found on the kerb. I love it because it is high, and I don’t have to stoop to pot my plants. Its position is also protected from the sun. In the morning, I have the sun on my back and in the afternoon, the sun is obscured by my house.
My potting bench is pushed up against the back wall of my house, and as you can see, a piece of lattice is a great spot to hang all my tools within easy reach. I will keep that there, it is so handy.
So while the position of the bench is great, I would prefer to create a bench space that takes up the entire corner space. With a shelf or two underneath, it will be a great space to store my potting mix.
Seed Raising & Cultivation Area
My seedling stand was recycled from my Nan’s orchid greenhouse.
Little pots need to be stacked in a tray otherwise, they fall through the big gaps in the grid.
That bench gets the morning sun, yet is protected from the afternoon sun and the wind.
The wire bench isn’t as long as I would like. I would like to extend a bench down the length of the greenhouse down that side, with an extra shelf along the fence for a bit of height.
Pots are all stacked in the corner on a shelf that I found at my local recycle centre, that reminds me I should probably get a tetanus booster shot. Same goes for that portable greenhouse that is currently being held together with gaffa tape.
I can see all my pots at a glance, without the need to rummage around to find what I need. I am going to need some proper shelving to replace my rickety bits!
As I look at the photo above, I realise that I haven’t touched 95% of those hoarded pots in years. Perhaps it is time to take them to the recycle centre!
Potting mix and soil
Potting soil is currently stored in recycled buckets next to my potting bench. These are great because they have a lid. They are not so great because they are heavy and awkward to maneuver.
They are round and take up a bit of room. Plus, they are so old, the plastic has become brittle and each time I use them they disintegrate and crack a little more.
I’m going to need some new soil storage.
As they are opaque, on the odd occasion that the lid has not fit on properly, a scoop of the potting mix also yields a frog, cockroach, skink or a spider.
In case you were wondering what they brew-kit is doing in the greenhouse, I use it to brew up comfrey and weed liquid fertiliser. Honest!
My Dad made my cleaning station for that space and it will stay there. It is a regular kitchen sink welded into a steel frame with a shelf underneath, perfect for washing pots, soaking plants for a deep watering and the wastewater simply drains into a bucket underneath. So it stays! Maybe with a fresh coat of paint!
Currently, I have a hose reel that is routed via my only backyard tap, which is about 25 metres from my greenhouse! I might be able to get a tap to my greenhouse, as there is a bathroom on the other side of the brick wall.
Most of the greenhouse is already paved and the rest is a sandy garden bed. I am always sweeping sand and straining to pull weeds from awkward spots so once everything is out, I will cover the sandy beds with a few layers of weed mat and top with either gravel or crushed brick.
The greenhouse roof is shade cloth, so when it rains, my plants get a drink. It lets the air circulate. I don’t want to put a solid roof on the greenhouse, yet in the summers, sun and heat can be an issue.
I already have one grapevine growing at the entrance of the greenhouse, and plan to plant another near the cleaning station. The foliage will cover the roof of the greenhouse in the summer when I need extra shade.
As a bonus, I’m hoping the grapes growing in my greenhouse will escape the attention of the Rosellas and crows that currently feast on my grapes that grow near my deck!
A greenhouse with built-in healthy summer snacks? Yes please!
I was watching old Jamie Oliver re-runs when I saw a great idea for my greenhouse. Remember he had those wooden bench tops with a hole in it to scrape into the waste into? GENIUS! I would love something similar in my potting bench.
An automated misting system would be awesome. While it wouldn’t be needed in the winter, early morning watering in the summer would be wonderful.
When we renovated our kitchen, we installed roll-out drawers instead of shelving in the cupboard space. I would love it if the lower shelves were laid on tracks as drawers, so I could easily access the bottom shelf items. Thanks to Pinterest for that idea!
Finally, I was hoping to make the entire fit out using pallet wood. But after scouting some palettes (for free and paying for them) I’m not sure if they will be a great option. They will be getting wet and would likely warp or rot. Painting them would offer some protection, but painting is maintenance! The wood quality of the ones I’ve seen so far might not be what I need. But, I’ll keep looking and keep open to other options.
Theres a great planning tool in our Subscriber Resource Library!
My next step is to plot the space out using the grid in my Garden Journal and see if I can’t make better use of the space on paper. A little bit of planning will save me from making another giant mess and create a more purposeful space which will be much more functional and beautiful.
The great news is, the Garden Journal is available when you subscribe! Plus, subscribing gives you access to my Subscriber Resource Library! If you don’t already have access (there’s a secret password!) sign up today and check it out for yourself.
So do you have a spot just waiting to be transformed into the greenhouse of your dreams? I would love to hear from you, please leave me a message or a comment below.