So you’ve decided to grow cannabis outdoors, and with all the benefits that come from it, who could blame you!
But even though growing outdoors is much simpler than growing indoors, you still need to put together an outdoor gardening setup.
Today, we are talking about the best outdoor grow setup and how you can make the one that works best for you.
So let’s find out if you can just stick a seed in the ground and walk away, or if you need to break out the tools and build a greenhouse.
Outdoor Setup Essentials
When you’re planning to grow cannabis outside, you need to ensure your setup is taking care of your plants’ essential needs.
For all but one, you can rely on what Mother Nature gives you, or you can take control of them yourself with equipment.
Smart growers usually do both!
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You have to plant your plants somewhere, and for this, you have three options: directly in the ground, potted in soil, or hydroponics.
If you have an area with rich-soil that gets lots of sunlight, planting directly in the ground is an easy way for beginners to get started.
If your soil or sun converge isn’t great, planting in a container with either premix or homemade soil is usually a better idea because you can move plants around.
If you’re willing to spend a little more time and money, setting up a hydroponic system can save on water, helps plants grow faster, and is better at keeping insects off plants.
To browse through the top hydroponic systems, check out this guide.
Constant air circulation is important for building hardy stems that stand up better to extreme weather, insects, and keep your colas from falling to the ground.
At the same time, too much wind can cause wind burn and a host of other issues.
Put your plants in an area where they regularly have access to what you’d consider a gentle breeze.
Outdoor cannabis like all the direct sunlight they can get.
For early seasons, your plants need a minimum of 5-6 hours of direct sunlight and no more than 10 hours of darkness.
For later seasons when the plants start flowering, they’ll again need a minimum of 5-6 hours of direct sunlight, but need a minimum 10 hours of darkness.
Autoflowering strains are unique and grow best when they get all the light you can give them.
There are two ways you can feed your plants: synthetic fertilizers or organic fertilizers.
Cannabis plants don’t have a preference as long as they’re getting the right ratio of nutrients.
For beginners, buying premade “bottled” fertilizer is easier, requires little work, and you can sometimes find bottled nutrients that are organic.
🠊 Temperature and Humidity
During the earlier sessions, plants like temperatures between 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity over 60%.
Later, when your plants start flowering, they’ll prefer temperatures between 65-80 degrees and humidity under 50%.
If either your temperatures or humidity is sitting too much outside the optimal range and causing problems, building a greenhouse is a great solution.
🠊 Water / Rainfall
Cannabis plants preferred minimum to moderate rainfall or around one gallon per pound of processed flower a day.
Avoid planting in places where you commonly see sitting water but make sure you’re watering if you’re going through a drought.
Do You Need To Build A Greenhouse or Enclosure?
A greenhouse is a fantastic way to control and regulate your climate to give your plants the optimal conditions they need for the biggest yields.
You can make a greenhouse complex, where they control every aspect of your climate as if you were growing indoors.
Or you can make them simple if you need to only control one aspect, like keeping your plants from getting too much rain.
If you don’t know if you need a greenhouse or not, try growing without one, see if you experience any climate issues, and then build a personalized greenhouse that solves those issues.
Tips For Setting Up Your First Garden
In a moment we are going to look at three hypothetical setups that you’ll find in outdoor gardens far-and-wide.
But before we do that, let’s take a second to talk about setting up a garden for the first time.
When you see the setups below, you’ll notice some of them involve more equipment and work.
But don’t fall into thinking our simplest setup is the right one for you just you’re a beginner.
Your climate can make or break these any of these setups.
For example, our first setup is the simplest, but if your climate isn’t perfect, you could be stuck spending more time and money with this setup than you would with our most complex setup.
Take the time to study your climate before creating your outdoor setup.
Personalizing the Best Outdoor Grow Setup
When you’re creating an outdoor setup, it's a great idea to look over other setups and use them to get ideas.
Take apart setups piece by piece and ask yourself why the grower choose what they did.
You want a setup that works for your needs, so feel free to mix and match the components you see in our setups and other setups.
Remember to cover the essentials from above when creating your setup and you’ll soon be harvesting pounds of green.
There are times when you have to pair certain equipment together, or it’s advantageous to pair growing methods.
For example, a hydroponic setup always needs an enclosure.
Another example is organic growing methods pair really well with potted plants.
When you go over our setups below, we’ll note when certain equipment requires another or when it’s a smart move to pair certain growing methods together.
The Three Best Outdoor Grow Setups
When you’re creating your outdoor setup, it’s best to design it around your grow medium.
Let’s take a look at three setups that are based on the three grow media we covered above.
Setup 1 - Planting Directly In The Ground
Bottled / Synthetic
Ability to Fix Plant Issues
If you're new to growing or have a limited budget, planting directly in the ground or a raised bed is the best outdoor grow setup.
It's the cheapest and least work-intensive way to grow.
If you have the right climate and soil, that is!
There’s not much to this setup, plus we are using bottled nutrients here to make it even more beginner-friendly.
So instead, you’ll want to spend time researching your environment and how well it can grow cannabis.
If your climate meets all of all cannabis’ demands, then you’re in for easy sailing.
Setup 2 - Planting in Pots
Homemade “super” soil in pots
Low to medium
Ability to Fix Plant Issues
Having the ability to move your plants can get you out of so many sticky situations, especially when you’re a beginner and don’t know what all to expect.
Many of us live in climates that can grow outdoor cannabis, but it may not be optimal for it in some way.
Your climate may see extreme weather or you have trees or shade blocking access to long periods of direct light, etc.
When something in your environment isn’t optimal strongly consider planting in a moveable medium.
For this setup, we are taking advantage of growing in a container by creating our own super soil and compost tea.
This keeps things organic, and many growers believe a super soil and compost tea combo delivers the best tasting weed around.
Another benefit of this setup is you can get a head-start by starting your plants inside when there is still a chance for frost.
Setup 3 - Hydroponics
Bottled / Synthetic
Medium to High
Ability to Fix Plant Issues
This is our climate control setup, and while it’s the most complicated on our list, it still less expensive and labor intensive than growing indoors, so it’s still beginner-friendly in our opinion.
When you're struggling with heavy rainfall, poor humidity, extreme temps, etc., this setup is your answer.
When your climate has big issues that require a greenhouse, hydroponic is a fantastic choice because they require an enclosure to keep the rain out.
Sure, it takes a little more work to set up a hydro system, but they make up for it in unbeatable yields — plus, you get to switch back to bottled nutrients for hydro, so there’s no work creating your own fertilizer.
This setup gives you the most control over plants with the ability to control waterings, humidity, and even temperatures, but it will require more monitoring and maintenance.
Hopefully, you’re feeling more confident about setting up an outdoor garden.
Remember, choose your growing medium first, then continue to follow the essential steps we talked about above.
It can seem like a lot, but trust us, if you go step by step, it becomes much easier.
As well, you have three fantastic and very common setups above that offer you a blueprint to work off of.
In most cases, you’ll only have to alter one or two aspects of each setup to create the optimal setup for you and your climate.