I'd like to grow tomatoes in an 8 x 10' greenhouse in my south-facing back yard, which is visible from many windows of the house. The sunniest area is dead center near the back fence. I'd like to plant landscaping--flowers or a hedge about 5' high-- to partially screen the greenhouse. Will that cut out too much light and warmth for the tomatoes?
Wanda F. ~ Somerset, New Jersey
Hi Wanda. I haven't grown too many tomatoes, but I definitely like to eat them--especially the fresh variety. If I am envisioning your setup correctly, your rear yard faces to the south and you have a five foot fence at the rear of your property near where you plan to build your greenhouse.
Before getting into the sunlight requirements for growing tomatoes, I encourage you to check on the property setback requirements for Somerset, New Jersey. Most localities have limitations as to how close you can put a permanent structure to your property lines. Fences usually don't count. I know my rear setback is ten feet. There may also be some utility easement restrictions you should be aware of.
I'm assuming you don't have any types of structures or landscaping to the east or west of where you plan to put your greenhouse. These are the directions your tomatoes should receive most of their sunlight although it will vary slightly based on the time of year. I think your idea of choosing a screening for your greenhouse that shouldn't grow much higher than five to six feet is good. This would make it somewhat uniform with the height of your rear fence and it also wouldn't be tall enough to block some of the indirect sunlight for when the sun isn't directly from the east and west.
I think I would also choose a shrub or tree that isn't completely dense when mature. If the greenhouse you are considering is the same as most greenhouses I have seen, it is mainly clear glass with a little bit of metal or wood framing to hold the glass in place. It shouldn't take to much to screen the building and a shrub or tree that allows little bit of light through its foliage would also help with indirect sunlight.
I'm not sure if Somerset receives strong summer thunderstorms or is close to the New Jersey coast, but the fencing on one side and your screening on the other would assist in preventing damage from strong winds. I don't think you are going to block out too much sunlight or warmth--enjoy your tomatoes!