A Growing Dome Adviser’s Expert Tips on Developing Your Growing Dome Greenhouse Plans
What is Your Vision?
Planning your greenhouse is one of the best parts of purchasing a Growing Dome. You get to design an energy-efficient backyard greenhouse that is uniquely your own. Most of our customers start with their imagination – seeing themselves inside a lush greenhouse, a little bit of “Eden” right in their backyard, planting starts, watering…harvesting and eating fresh produce that takes no longer than 5 minutes from garden to kitchen prep!
Maybe you envision yourself sitting in the morning quiet with your coffee or tea on a cold winter day, with the warm sun filtering through the greens of kale, collard, and chard leaves, the moist greenhouse air, and the sound of the pond waterfall reminding you that yes, spring WILL come….
Whatever your vision, that’s where your journey to building a greenhouse begins. To help visualize your greenhouse plans, we recommend visiting our Facebook group for ideas. Better yet, join us for a personal tour.
Next comes all of the steps to making it a reality – a PLAN! Here are a few of those steps I’ve found to be common among our customers in the months I have been a “Growing Dome Advisor” with Growing Spaces.
Customizing your Dome
Once you’ve chosen the dome size that’s right for you based on how much produce you and your family consume and how large a site you have, you want to optimize the dome for your climate. Growing Spaces offers misting systems for hot temps and dry air, extra solar-powered or electric cooling fans that keep the air moving through your dome, a solar-powered attic fan that replaces the top vent(s) on larger domes, and a solar-powered fountain for the above-ground pond. Ask your Growing Spaces Dome Advisor what Growing Dome greenhouse is perfect for your location and what options are optimal for your needs.
Choosing a Site
Where will your dome be on your property? Foremost, you want the sun! Especially the first-morning sun coming from the southeast on winter mornings, and then as much as you can get the rest of the day. Some trees or a building to the northwest can help with late afternoon shading in the summer months. An app like SunSeeker can help visualize sun patterns through the seasons on your property.
You will also want it to be convenient to an entrance to your house, perhaps the kitchen or utility room door – who wants to shovel a long path through the snow in January? The more accessible your Growing Dome is, the more time you will spend in your greenhouse garden.
Will you want outdoor garden beds around your dome or nearby? Integrating your Growing Spaces dome into your landscaping over time is a satisfying way of really making it yours and extending your garden.
You will also need to know the zoning requirements for required setbacks from your property lines that have to be clear of any structures, leading us to the next step.
Building Permit and HOA
Unless you live in a rural county or are ordering our smallest dome, you will likely need a building permit. You may want to “fly under the radar,” but we don’t recommend it. It would be devastating if you were forced to remove your dome someday and/or pay a fine.
It’s a good thing to start early in your planning process and find out what the requirements are because it may take several weeks, or even months, to get your permit approval, depending on the situation. We have a helpful building department questionnaire to get you started. Once your deposit is received, we will provide detailed Growing Dome greenhouse plans to send to the building department. In some cases where the county’s requirements for structural strength exceed our design loads for snow and wind, we may need to go back to our engineer for revisions, and that may need to figure into your overall project cost.
If you need HOA approvals, we can help guide you through those situations, so ask us at Growing Spaces if you have questions.
It’s helpful to have a good sense of what the total project is going to cost and an idea for the return on your investment. When Growing Spaces sends you a quote, it shows all of the basic greenhouse kit costs and any upgrades or options you’ve discussed with your Dome Advisor like a shade cloth or automatic mist system. Attached to the main estimate are estimates for the cost of Owner-Supplied Items, constructing your raised beds, and the quantity of good organic soil you’ll need. These costs are based on averages, and we update them every year. Last, as mentioned above, you may need to add permitting fees and possibly engineering fees.
Growing Spaces also has financing options available if you would rather pay in monthly installments.
We all tend to think about how nice it would be to keep gardening through the winter. We are longing to get our hands back in the soil and having visions of green plants, growing fresh greens for the holidays, fresh snap peas in mid-February, or even getting starts ready for next spring. More and more people are thinking it’s a wise investment to start growing more of their own produce all year long in a “garden that thrives 365”.
In past years, when Growing Spaces’ production time for a new order was 4-6 weeks, that was just about enough time for getting your permit and getting the site ready for installation. This year, that period has increased to the current 12 weeks and we have already started filling our calendar for spring/summer 2021. We’re expecting the pace to keep up into 2021– and, we’re working to expand our production capacity. Building departments are also busy, good contractors are in short supply and weather is always a major factor. If you hope to get a Growing Dome next year, the time to start planning is now!
You’ll also want to consider the time needed to prepare your site, put in the foundation, and get the Owner-Supplied Items on hand in the context of your climate and weather. Will the ground still be frozen in March? Will your dome be arriving in the rainy season? Do you have weekends available for a self-installation, or can you gather family and friends to devote a week or two to get your dome ready quickly for your first planting?
Plan to build your greenhouse when the weather is above 50 degrees F, and you will have volunteers to help. The Growing Dome greenhouse is fun and easy to build as a DIY greenhouse kit, but we are here to help if you need an installation supervisor or crew. Plotting out a timeline and knowing all the pieces to create a successful installation is the foundation for a good plan!
Whatever your vision, we want to help you bring it to life. For more information, visit our Step by Step Guide to Buying a Growing Dome.
Written By: Ainslie Kincross
I started here in March of 2020, just as the pandemic hit the U.S. and we all had to wake up to becoming more locally self-reliant, more tuned into the natural world, and to each other as fellow-travelers on this beautiful planet. As an architect, I was the project designer on a number of LEED-certified buildings in Wyoming, and I’ve always had connecting people with nature as a guiding purpose in my work. I believe our collective human role now is restorative and regenerative, and Growing Spaces has been participating in that for over 25 years! When I’m not here, you’ll find me on a mountain trail.