The polytunnel is a versatile space, perfect for so many different uses. Primarily, people invest in a polytunnel as a place to grow fruit and veg. With such a warm, almost tropical mini-climate of its own, growing conditions are perfect for most species of fruit and vegetables.
How Can You Use Your Polytunnel?
But there are also ways in which gardeners, other domestic customers and commercial customers choose to use their polytunnel. They may do this at a time when there is less pressure to use the plastic tunnel as a growing zone for certain plants.
Of course, the great thing about a polytunnel is it semi-permanent status in the garden or yard. That means, it can be moved and used as something completely different to its original purpose!
1. Indoor pool
In our research, we came across a great project where the polytunnel provided a warm climate for a swimming pool! In this case, it too was a semi-permanent feature and with the polytunnel over the top, it made for a pleasant cover for the pool.
It could also be used as a cover for a permanent pool too, keeping the heat and humidity in making it a more pleasant space to swim and relax in. Check planning permissions first, however as there may be by-laws that prevent this.
2. Ad hoc outdoor party zone
A polytunnel does extend the growing season. But come Bonfire Night or Christmas, there is little that is able to grow and sprout fruit in our damp, cold climate. And so, with plans afoot to start fresh in the New Year, why not use the vast cavernous space of the polytunnel as your very own party zone?
Covered with twinkling lights and bales of hay as seating, along with mix ‘n match camping chairs, it would make a great place to kick back and enjoy social time with friends.
Clearly, on bonfire night, the fire along with charcoal BBQs need to be outside and away from the plastic walls. Carbon monoxide poisoning in enclosed space from BBQs and the heat from the fire won’t do the plastic much good!
3. Shed with rooms
The polytunnel in most cases is kept as one long tunnel which makes perfect sense if you are planning on growing plants and veggies in long lengths of borders and beds.
But this space is versatile. It may be a semi-permanent feature but the tension on the plastic dome sides is such that it is incredibly taut and stable. Providing damage is tended to promptly, it stays like this.
This tension and uniformity in its shape mean you could partition parts of it so that you can create your own small garden office or shed at one end. Perhaps create a tea room in another part! You can even create zoned ‘rooms’ for certain plants and other activities.
The polytunnel is increasingly common in all kinds of commercial settings, and not just linked to commercial nurseries, plant growers and vegetable farms.
Again, in our research we noted several instances of polytunnels being used in various commercial settings.
- A polytunnel formed an undercover corridor from the carpark area of one store to its interior. This is a fantastic way of adding more undercover space to keep shopping baskets.
- We came across one nursery and hardware business using a polytunnel as an extra selling space. This was perfect for everything from bags of coal to bags of gravel for the garden, slates and so on.
- We even came across one business using a polytunnel as an extension of their café! In the warm summer sunshine, with the doors thrown open, it made a pleasant informal café space that suited the outdoor nature of the business in question.
5. Animal housing
Farmers and other animal-related businesses have long realised the value of polytunnels for providing much needed extra space.
At certain times of the year, there can be a lot of pressure on indoor space and that means a polytunnel could be the cost-effective addition they need.
This spring has been a good example. The weather has been changeable with the beast from the east hitting our shores in two parts. Bringing biting easterly winds, snow and sub-zero temperatures, farmers have struggled to keep their ewes and lambs safe from the weather.
A polytunnel for sheep – and other livestock – at such times is a welcome additional undercover space, great for lambing alongside a barn.
What other uses can you think polytunnels could provide?
Sean Barker is the MD of First Tunnels, and is enthusiastic about providing quality gardening supplies to gardeners across the UK