Buying a greenhouse comes with many benefits. But it can be a pretty big decision. There’s a lot to consider, such as size, materials, price, and how it’s going to look in your yard. There are many different greenhouse styles to choose from, which will play a role in the functionality, cost, and look of your new gardening structure. Consider your needs, wants, and budget before simply jumping in and buying the first thing you see. You can choose between buying a greenhouse kit that needs to be put together or building your own greenhouse, but the following factors will need to be considered with either route.
Buying a Greenhouse - Functionality
Think about why you’re starting a greenhouse. Then, plan your specs or pick a kit based on what you’ll need. If you want to extend your harvesting season, you might be able to get away with just building a small cold greenhouse over your garden that will trap the heat and protect your outdoor garden from the elements. For a greenhouse that will be home to many big, tropical plants all year round, you’ll need something large, weather-resistant, and possibly even supplemented with additional heating.
Then again, maybe it’s not so much about what you’re growing as it is about creating an escape for yourself where you can relax and be with your plants. You may want to build a beautiful sanctuary where you enjoy your morning coffee or maybe even entertain guests. If this is the case, you’ll probably want to focus more on size and aesthetics. There are plenty of reasons to build a greenhouse, and figuring out what yours are will help you choose the perfect design.
Think about your gardening plans for the next few years. Is there a chance you’re going to want to add to your garden? Many gardeners who start a small greenhouse to get their seedlings going often fall in love with how useful this space is and end up wishing they’d gone with something a little larger. A larger greenhouse may cost a bit more and take up more yard space, but if you can afford both, you’ll likely be patting yourself on the back later for adding those extra few feet. If you start small, you’ll find it quite difficult to expand on a completed greenhouse.
Buying a Greenhouse - Shape and Style
Choosing a shape and style for your greenhouse can be as much about practicality as it is about aesthetics. You might love how cheap an A-frame greenhouse is to build, or you might enjoy the floor space a hoop greenhouse provides. The gothic arch style features a gorgeously shaped roof. When framed with dark wood and outfitted with glass planes, the gothic arch creates a breathtaking addition to any lawn. Shade houses are perfect for plants that will easily overheat from the hot rays of the sun, and saw-tooth greenhouses are an excellent choice when you require a good deal of airflow. The style you choose will depend on the floor and headspace you’ll need, the types of plants you’re growing, and what kind of structure you want to look at every day.
You’ll have a few options when it comes to choosing what type of frame you’d like to build your greenhouse with. Wood is one of the easiest to get, cheapest, and sturdiest materials you could use. It’s heavy enough to provide a weighted anchor for your structure and strong enough to support heavy glazing such as glass. You can purchase a frame kit with brackets, instructions, and a lumber cut list to make building your own wood greenhouse even easier.
For metal frames, you can go with aluminum or steel. Aluminum is lightweight, durable, and rust-resistant. Steel is heavier but very strong, making it perfect for large structures or commercial greenhouses. Both aluminum and steel can be a little more expensive, and they may also be somewhat difficult to work with if you’re building your own greenhouse and don’t have the proper tools or skills for metalworking.
You can also use plastic or PVC frames as a very cheap alternative. They’re incredibly lightweight and may need to be anchored into the ground, so your greenhouse doesn’t just up and blow away. Plastic can be a great option for a small greenhouse that won’t need to support much weight, such as glass glazing and heavy racks or shelves. It also works for a ground-level, cold greenhouse that only needs to protect a small crop.
Your greenhouse will need a covering that will protect your plants, allow in the correct amount of light, and hold ample heat. Glass greenhouses are one of the most visually pleasing options. Still, glass is quite heavy and can be a little more expensive. Glass is very breakable, but using tempered glass can help.
Polyethylene film is the least expensive option, and it’s incredibly versatile, lightweight, and easy to work with. On the downside, it will only last about 2-5 years before needing to be replaced. It can begin to yellow after a few years, can be prone to ripping, and doesn’t provide the best insulation. Polycarbonate plastic is much more durable than polyethylene film and will provide a little more insulation and heat retention.
Buying a Greenhouse - Appearance
Your biggest concern might be what your greenhouse looks like, or maybe you won’t even give it a moment’s consideration. Aesthetics alone won’t affect your plants’ health, but it’s definitely something to think about. Even if you’re a diehard plant lover who wants to create a welcoming space for their plants to flourish, you should keep in mind that this structure will be sitting in your backyard for a long time. You might not be too concerned about looks when building your greenhouse, but if you’ve gone with something terribly unattractive, you might regret it after staring at it for a year or two.
This might seem like an obvious one, but you’ll definitely want to consider your budget. You can slap up a small yet perfectly adequate shelter for the low cost of the very cheapest materials. You can also go all out and spend thousands upon thousands on a fully equipped plant palace. Plan your budget and account for all necessary materials so you don’t get halfway through construction to find your glazing, shelving, or accessory costs have escalated to a point beyond what you can afford.
Buying a Greenhouse - The Wrap-up
Once you have your greenhouse kit all picked out or have decided to build your own greenhouse, you’re halfway there. There is still a lot to consider before starting a greenhouse, such as what plants you’ll grow in there, what your shelving situation will look like, and what kind of accessories you will need to control the temperature, light, and humidity. Form a solid plan before you make your first purchase, and you’ll be able to focus simply on building the greenhouse of your dreams rather than regretting, returning, and rebuilding.