Greenhouse Benches

Greenhouse Benching

Greenhouse Staging

The thing about greenhouse benches is a lot of people will try to overcrowd them in their greenhouses. You don’t want all of your plants to be crammed in there like sardines. That is not good for the general health of the plants. They need room to breathe just like we do. Also, you need enough space between plants so that you are able to get in there and work on each individual plant – deadheading, checking the water, etc. Tops of the benches should be slatted or configured somehow for draining. I prefer UV resistant or rot resistant materials. Our fiberglass benches have a UV protected top to help keep the sun from damaging it. Cedar and redwood benches are nice also. Although a lot of people will recycle and use concrete blocks with rows of 2 x 4’s on top of them. It really doesn’t have to be fancy. The most important thing is that it has drainage. I recommend a maximum width of 3′ for benches along the walls. You can use a 4′ bench for a center row, as you can work it from both sides of the aisle. A lot of people will try to overcrowd the benches as well. I really don’t like to put a center bench in a greenhouse narrower than 16′. I like to leave at least a 30″ walkway. This will give you room to carry the plants in and turn around without bumping into them. Let’s not forget that some of our beauties may be trailing varieties and may find their way into the walkway all on their own. Another feature you can use is shelves. You may attach these to the greenhouse and be used at bench height, or you can place them above the bench for additional storage. Just remember to consider the you may be shading the plants below a shelf. Shade loving plants can be placed on the ground underneath the benches. Also, the Southern Burner greenhouse heater can be placed under a bench so as to not use up valuable floor space. We attached a piece of metal under our bench to keep the water from running directly on our heater. We make it longer and slope it to the back so that the water will drain out past the heater. Another nice feature to consider for your greenhouse would be a potting bench. You can keep all of your tools and equipment organized and in the same place. They come in pretty handy.

Here is our latest video in “The Greenhouse Minute” series.


Greenhouse Glazing Materials

Greenhouse Glazing Materials

Greenhouse Glazing Materials, Warranty vs Life Expectancy

I get asked a lot about how long certain greenhouse coverings will last. The thing is, the limit of the warranty does not equal the life expectancy of the material. I will address the following materials – 6 mil, 4 year polyfilm, reinforced polyfilm and polycarbonate sheets. I will be mentioning the UV protection. That is what keeps the materials from getting brittle, cracking, or turning yellow. The warranty will typically cover how long the manufacturer expects the UV protection to last, or it may refer to how much the UV protection may change in a certain period of time.

Greenhouse polyfilm is typically listed by the thickness and the length of the time that the UV protection is warranted for. 6 mil, 4 year polyfilm is 6 mil thick and has a UV protection that is warranted for 4 years. But, that does not necessarily mean that it will last the entire 4 years. The material will not get brittle, etc, but if it is damaged (due to a falling limb, hail, etc) there is a possibility that the cover will be lost. There is patching tape for the film coverings, but if you are not at the greenhouse when the damage occurs it may be too late to stop it. This will be the least expensive of the greenhouse glazing choices and is excellent for small hobby or commercial greenhouses. Although most of the commercial greenhouses will use a double layer of this film with a blower that blows air between the 2 layers. This will definitely increase the insulation factor for this material. I have had some growers report back to me that they feel the film is less likely to be damaged when using this double layer. They feel that the air between the layers “stretches” the film, making it tighter and less susceptible to damage from falling items.

The reinforced polyfilm is 2 layers of film laminated together with a rip stop feature in between the sheets. This has a one year warranty on the UV protection. But, we have had reports back from people who have gotten up to a 12 year lifetime from this material. The rip stop feature is what makes this possible. If the film does get a tear it cannot go any further than the cords of the rip stop. That will keep the area of the rip limited, and it is easily repairable once it is found.

Polycarbonate sheets are a rigid material. Many manufacturers offer a 10 year warranty that the light transmission will not vary more than 10%. The change in the light transmission is what causes the sheets to get brittle, yellow and crack. There are, however, some manufacturers out there now offering a comparable 20 year warranty. Please be sure to check with the company supplying you the sheets to see which warranty is offered. Polycarbonate is a tough material and typically has a 10 year warranty against hail damage. So, tearing or damage to the sheets is not near as big an issue as the polyfilm. In fact I have been dealing with polycarbonate sheets for over 20 years now and have never been involved in a warranty claim. I have had many people in the industry report back that they have seen polycarbonate sheets (with the 10 year warranty) last up to the 20 year mark. I personally have seen the 10 year warranty material remain usable at 15 years.

Hopefully this overview of the warranties and greenhouse glazing materials will give you the information you need to make the best decision for your greenhouse.