How necessary are greenhouses or related structures?

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Hey everyone

I'm new to the forum and this is my first post.

I am in Grahamstown, EC, South Africa. We have a similar climate to the Cape with predominantly winter rainfall, although recently rainfall has been very sporadic and unpredictable as we're in a 5-year drought.

I have recently moved into a house with a large garden, and was wondering if it was necessary for me to put up a greenhouse or some other type of shade structure? Our winters are pretty cold, with minimum temps below freezing for a couple of weeks at a time, and summers can also get pretty hot (touching 40's at times). We also have a lot of wind. I was thinking a greenhouse made from a lower percentage shade cloth sounded like a good idea in order to protect plants from harsh temps on both sides of the spectrum, as well as maintaining a slightly more stable environment for them in general. It would also require me to water slightly less frequently, which is important with the water rationing we're currently experiencing here.

The garden has very limited shade from large trees as things stand, and areas that are under shade aren't really suitable for keeping my trees. I know the indigenous stuff I have will probably be fine, but the alien bonsai material is what I'm more concerned about (Japanese Maples, Elms, Crabapples, Pride of India, Junipers, etc).

Any input would be appreciated as I've never attempted anything like this before and don't want to end up actually making things worse for my trees.

Thanks in advance!
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
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I think a greenhouse is the last necessary structure. Due to what is required to make it functional more than a couple safe months a year.

Welcome to Crazy!

Other structures, shade, wind block, benches, are much more useful year round.

I would ditch the headache species. Or if you just keep them....source the Chinese elm that is good at zone 10. The southeast maple available etc...
Otherwise it becomes unenjoyable.

Plus losing upwards of tems of thousand of dollars of trees, all because you couldn't water one day, is kinda shitty.

Your locals wouldn't mind it as much.

Sorce
 

JudyB

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Sounds to me like you are describing more of a shade structure than an actual greenhouse, which sounds like a good idea with your heat and water issues. I think that you could do that for your summer, and then if additional protection from the cold is needed in the winter, you could do a poly cover over your same frame. Just remember that in winter if it's sunny and you have a transparent cover on the shelter, you can get very hot temps in there in short order, which is very unwelcome in winter dormancy period. So if you go this route, be sure to get an opaque material, and do some venting to allow the airflow.
 
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Yes, maybe the term greenhouse isn't being used correctly on my part. Definitely more of a shade structure made of shadecloth rather than an actual greenhouse, which I can't really see being necessary over most of South Africa.
 

jaco94

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Hello ,
Being able to protect trees from excessive heat during part of the year is very important, of course it depends on the species you are going to cultivate but the more the tree is exposed to the sun, the more careful you have to be with the watering.
The sun is necessary for the beauty of the trees (color of the leaves in the fall) and their development (budding), but it can quickly dry out the substrate and kill the trees, so it is both our best ally and our worst ennemy...
 

roberthu

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Shade cloth or some huge trees on the west side of you bonsai benches will help. I am going to plant some fast growing trees in my next yard for that purpose.
 

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