Greenhouses come in every shape, style, and size. Depending on the types of plants you’ll be growing, the size of your garden, and if you’ll be growing commercially, the type of greenhouse that suits your needs could differ quite a bit from one style to the next. Every design type has their own set of pros and cons. Some designs are more energy efficient, some are cheaper to build, and some are just more visually appealing. Knowing what your options are and understanding the functionality of each different style will allow you to select the type of greenhouse that’s perfect for you and your plants.
Gable Roof Greenhouse
Gable roofed greenhouses are one of the most common types of greenhouse because they receive maximum amounts of sunlight while also providing ample space within the structure to grow a large number of plants. Thanks to the straight walls and higher roof, you’ll also be able to move around freely inside while tending to your garden. The design is somewhat simple so building it yourself is usually pretty straightforward. Depending on the materials you use for the frame and covering, construction costs can be quite reasonable as well. For the simplest set up you can also buy a prefabricated greenhouse kit.
Even simpler than the gable style greenhouse yet equally popular, the A-frame greenhouse requires very minimal amounts of materials and can be quite cheap and easy to construct. If you use a wood frame and plastic covering, these types of greenhouses can be constructed for next to nothing and require very little building experience. Due to the wide base and narrow peak, they can be a little more difficult to maneuver within and airflow isn’t always ideal in the low edges and tight corners.
Hoop houses, named for their half hoop shape, are another style of greenhouse that can be constructed very cheaply. This shape creates a little more height around the sides than the A-frame style, allowing extra space for your plants to grow taller and allowing you more comfortable access to them. Providing ventilation to every corner of this style greenhouse is much more possible than with the A-frame design. Unlike the peaked roofs of the gable and A-frame styles, snow can settle on top of hoop houses and must be cleared off to prevent excessive weight and possible structural damage.
Gothic Arch Greenhouse
Gothic arch greenhouses are an excellent choice for those looking for an elegant, attractive design. The graceful structure of this style does not only look lovely but also allows your greenhouse to easily shed snow and rain as well as absorb light very efficiently. The construction of gothic arches is still fairly simple even though the end result is so aesthetically pleasing.
Geodesic Dome Greenhouse
Geodesic dome greenhouses are very strong and incredibly energy efficient environments but their construction can be a little more complicated than some of the other styles. The domed structure is created by using a series of triangular shapes, which require precise measurements and specific angles. Once completed, this type of greenhouse will stand up to all of the worst weather conditions and will provide your garden with superior light transmission.
Unlike the previous greenhouses that have been mentioned, which were all freestanding structures, a lean-to greenhouse is an attached style of greenhouse that uses one wall of your home for additional support. These are excellent for those who don’t have a very large backyard as well as for anyone who lives in a windy or stormy climate and would like to benefit from the added stability your house can provide. It’s extremely important that if you build a lean-to style greenhouse you choose a south-facing wall to build against. This way your garden can receive sunlight throughout the day rather than be forever doomed to a perpetually shady and poorly chosen location.
The purpose of many greenhouses are to provide warm, sunny conditions for your plants by trapping as much light and warmth into your enclosure are possible. Some structures, however, are designed to protect your plants from too much sun by providing customizable levels of shade. Typical greenhouses are constructed with glass or plastic walls and ceilings, but shade houses use varying types and colours of shade cloth that can filter out as much or as little sunlight as needed. Shade houses are perfect for shade loving plants, such as orchids or ferns, that need a certain level of protection from the harsh rays of the sun.
Sawtooth greenhouses are designed so that one section of the roof slope features a vertical gap. The roof could be an arched dome style or may be straight, as a gable roof would be. The vertical section of the roof allows for maximum ventilation because these vent openings are situated at the highest point on the structure. Warm air from the greenhouse can rise and escape while fresh air can blow in through these vents. This type of design is slightly more intricate than the basic A-frame and hoop designs and may cost a little more to construct.
Each different style of greenhouse serves its own unique purpose. One may be better suited to provide plenty of airflow, another may be designed to provide the warmest hothouse conditions possible. A certain type of greenhouse may be perfect for one specific crop but may serve other species of plants poorly. Or, maybe, you care less about the actual functionality of the greenhouse and might be more interested in creating a visually pleasing space where you can spend time enjoying your garden. Knowing what each type of greenhouse can offer will help you to pick the right style, spend only as much as you need to, and give your plants the perfect atmosphere to let them thrive.
Before picking a greenhouse style and getting to work on construction, keep in mind that the style of the greenhouse you choose isn’t the only factor in what the atmosphere inside will be like. If you live in an extremely cold climate you may need to supplement the inside temperature with some greenhouse heaters and possibly even grow lights. A cold greenhouse can provide protection from most of the elements but tropical and fruiting plants can require a little more nurturing in colder areas. If your greenhouse simply can’t maintain the correct light, temperature, or humidity levels for your specific plants you may need to equip your space with a few extra accessories to create the exact environment your plants require.