Siting Outdoor Buildings

Adding an outdoor building to your garden should provide new scope to extend the usefulness and enjoyment of your plot, but locating it properly is the key to really getting the best from your new investment. Although some aspects of this are obvious – you’d hardly site a greenhouse in near-permanent shade, for instance – others can be more easily overlooked, so it is worth taking a little while to consider what will make the “ideal” site.

Greenhouses and Summerhouses

For greenhouses and summerhouses, the site selection must take into account their need for sunshine, but there is no real hard-and-fast formula, despite much of what is written about the need to align the greenhouse roof in a north-south or east-west direction. Of course these buildings need to be sited in such a way as to allow them to get the fullest benefit of southerly light possible, but in the end it is the amount of available light which matters, rather more than its compass bearing.

As a result, it is important to consider any possible sources of shade including trees, fences, walls or buildings, which affect your garden – especially when the sun is low in the sky during early spring or late autumn. If the site you’re considering leaves your greenhouse in shade for most of the day at these times of the year, unless you really are that restricted for space, it is a poor choice.

Even a north-facing garden need not be so much of a disadvantage, since in many ways summerhouses are at their most successful here – well placed, they can allow the best of the evening sun to be enjoyed and make ideal places to relax at the end of the day.

Access and Services

Accessibility is a major factor in deciding where to site all types of garden buildings – and, as such, needs to be considered from the outset. Depending on the type of building there are practical issues which must be taken into account, such as providing water and electricity, along with how easy it will be to get to them carrying heavy bags of compost or pushing a wheelbarrow. Convenience too is a key factor, since locating your greenhouse in a far-flung corner of the garden, or a shed in an inaccessible spot is guaranteed to ensure that neither receive the attention they should – nor will either be as useful as they could be.

For all of the “rules” perhaps the most important aspect of citing any garden building is how it affects the rest of the garden design. Anything that you add to your garden should blend in and harmonise with what is already there – and ideally make a contribution to the whole feel that you are trying to create. Although we often tend to think about this only when adding a new pond, rockery or other feature, it applies every bit as much to outdoor building too – and in many ways, possibly even more so given their physical scale and permanence.

Much of this is inevitably dictated by the initial choice of building; an elegant design is well on the way to being a decorative element in its own right, while other types will always present a little more of a challenge to incorporate painlessly. However, even the most attractive of buildings can stick out like the proverbial sore-thumb if it is sited badly. While it is essential to consider the garden’s overall look when locating any building, the good news is that even if space really is tight, with careful screening and imaginative planting, there should still be a place for outbuildings in the smallest of plots.