If you're an avid gardener, a greenhouse will supply you with the perfect spot to make the most of your hobby. Whether you simply want to prolong the seasons or garden year-round, there is a greenhouse perfect for your needs. You'll need to consider size, material, framing and location to make the most of your greenhouse. What size greenhouse should you consider?
To determine size, budget, usage and available space are really the most important factors to keep in mind. You'll likely want to go bigger than you'd expect: it's not uncommon to need more room than you'd assume, and upgrading later can be costly. Think about how you'll use the space: is this going to be a year-round greenhouse or simply a sunroom or sunspace? Certain tasks will require more room than others. Also, don't forget height as head room is important; taller greenhouses are easier to heat and ventilate. What types of materials should you consider?
In general, you can choose between glass or several types of plastics when it comes to deciding on a material. Here are some pros and cons of both: • Glass:
This is the more traditional greenhouse covering, and though it's aesthetically appealing, it can have its downfalls. It's inefficient for retaining heat, can crack or break easily, is heavy, and doesn't diffuse light. If you choose glass, it will need to be double or triple strength to increase heating efficiency and protect it from cracks. • Plastic:
Plastic options include fiberglass, polycarbonate and polyethylene film, all of which are shatterproof and resistant to hailstone damage. Fiberglass retains heat more efficiently than glass and transmits less heat into the greenhouse. However it can get dirty easily due to its corrugated form and the residue from its gel coat. Polycarbonate retains the clarity of glass and is durable and resistant, but requires several layers for the best quality. Polyethylene film is easy to maintain and is good for heat retention and seasonal needs, but has a relatively short lifespan as it rips and tears more easily than other choices. What types of ventilation, heating and insulation needs should you consider?
This depends on how you plan to use your greenhouse. If you want to begin your spring growing early, extend growing into the fall or overwinter plants, you'll want to equip your greenhouse with automatic ventilation and heating. If you're planning to overwinter in a fairly cold climate or grow plants during the winter, you'll need an insulated covering. If you plan to grow plants year round, be sure to tightly seal and insulate your greenhouse with light transmission, and include an active ventilation system and evaporative cooling system to control heat during the summer. What type of frame should you use?
Determine how you will be using your greenhouse and where it will be placed to make the right choice on a frame. See below for the typical options. • Galvanized steel:
Low in cost and high in strength, steel frames are durable, long-lasting and require less framework which decreases shadows. However, its polyethylene film will eventually wear off and likely rust. • Aluminum:
Easy to maintain yet slightly more expensive, aluminum is the longest lasting due to its inability to rust, rot or break down from UV rays. However, it's not as strong as steel. • Wood:
Wood frames are attractive and lose little heat, although may deteriorate easily in a damp greenhouse. If you go the wood route, consider redwood or cedar since they're more resistant to elements and insects and be sure to apply a sealant or stain to prolong its use. • Plastic:
Inexpensive and easy to install, plastic frames lose little heat yet tend to be weaker than other options and can deteriorate from too much exposure to ultraviolet rays. Where should you place your greenhouse?
Place your greenhouse in partial shade if you're using it for starting seeds and transplants, or plant propagation in the summer to minimize heat buildup. If you'll be growing late into the fall or winter, you'll want to maximize sun exposure with the ends of the greenhouse facing east and west. Keep in mind accessibility to electricity and water, and try to place it on a level, well-drained site for easier maintenance. Don't forget to check in with your property's building codes before taking action.
Certain zoning ordinances, deed restrictions and building codes may restrict greenhouses being built on the property. It's possible you'll need a building permit, or that there are specifications as to where you can place the greenhouse.
View our various greenhouses here, and check out different types and sizes to see what's best for your needs.