How to Select and Evaluate a Greenhouse Site

The first step in actually building a greenhouse is to select a site and get a site evaluation. Sites should be evaluated for climate, topography, water source and quality, locality, and evaluations should consider whether the greenhouse will be used for retail or wholesale.

Selecting a Greenhouse Location

In addition to the information from the site survey (below), the region of the site should be considered as well. One of the great advantages of a greenhouse is that it makes it possible to cultivate crops anywhere, even in places they would not naturally grow. Greenhouse crop cultivation is generally more expensive than growing crops outdoors but is more energy-efficient and less costly than growing crops in indoor grow rooms. Regional climate and topography trends will give greenhouse owners an idea of the main challenges they may face in operating the greenhouse, and considerations to be made in designing and equipping the greenhouse.

Greenhouse Location Advantages Disadvantages
Pacific Coast (OR, N. CA) Temperature moderated year-round by cooling winds
Decent light exposure
High land cost
Potential power and water shortages
Southwest (AZ, NM) High light exposure
Low humidity
Water scarcity and low quality
Mountains (Rockies, Appalachia) High light exposure
Low humidity
High heating costs
South (AL, GA, FL) Low heating costs High humidity
North (MN, OH, E. Coast) Cooler summers High heating cost
Lower light exposure

Greenhouse Site Survey


  • Patterns of temperature, humidity, wind, rain, cloud cover, and snow
  • Determined by latitude, altitude, and terrain
  • Influences heating and cooling costs, lighting costs, and type of structure needed


  • The terrain around the greenhouse site will influence the impact of climate
  • Areas with air drainage where cold air settles have increased heating costs
  • Some terrains will be less costly to prepare for building
  • Site terrain should ensure water drains away from the greenhouse structure
  • Room for expansion at the greenhouse site may be desired
  • 1-2% southern slope is ideal
  • Windbreaks to the north (conifer trees planted in a double row at least 50 feet upwind from greenhouse, or storm fencing for temporary wind protection)


  • Enough water is needed to supply irrigation and evaporative cooling systems
  • 0.3 gallons per square foot of plants per day at least
  • Water may come from sources such as ground well, municipal water, ponds, recycling systems
  • Water quality should be tested and evaluated to determine the need for filtration and treatment


  • Location proximity to infrastructure and roads
  • Local zoning, regulations, and taxes
  • Waste disposal
  • Labor supply
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