Choosing a greenhouse type or style is the first step in greenhouse gardening. Greenhouses come in every shape, style, and size. The type of greenhouse you choose depends on several factors. For example, the types of plants you’ll grow and the size of your garden will affect your decision. Additionally, if you’ll be growing commercially, the type of greenhouse you’ll need will differ from the average home gardener. Every design type has its own set of pros and cons. Some designs are more energy efficient, while some are cheaper to build, and some are just more visually appealing. Knowing your options and understanding the functionality of each style lets you select the greenhouse that’s perfect for your plants.
Choosing the Gable Roof Greenhouse Type
Gable-roofed greenhouses are one of the most common types of greenhouse. They receive maximum amounts of sunlight, while providing ample space to grow many plants. Additionally, thanks to the straight walls and high roof, you’ll be able to move around freely while tending your garden. The design is somewhat simple so building it yourself is usually fairly 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.
The A-frame greenhouse is even simpler than the gable style greenhouse, yet equally popular. It requires minimal materials and can be quite cheap and easy to construct. If you use a wood frame and plastic covering, these greenhouses can be constructed for next to nothing. What’s more, they require little building experience. Be aware, due to the wide base and narrow peak, they can be 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. The shape creates more height around the sides than the A-frame style. This allows extra space for your plants to grow taller and allows 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. So, they must be cleared off to prevent excessive weight and possible structural damage.
Choosing the Gothic Arch Greenhouse Type
Gothic arch greenhouses are an excellent choice for those looking for an elegant, attractive design. The graceful structure of this style doesn’t just look lovely. It also allows your greenhouse to easily shed snow and rain as well as absorb light 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 strong, incredibly energy-efficient environments. But their construction is 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. However, this greenhouse type will stand up to the worst weather conditions and provides your garden with superior light exposure.
Choosing the Lean-to Greenhouse Type
The previous greenhouses mentioned were all freestanding structures. A lean-to greenhouse is an attached greenhouse that uses one wall of your home for additional support. These greenhouses are excellent for those who don’t have a large backyard. They’re also great for anyone living in a windy or stormy climate, as your house provides extra stability. It’s 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 doomed to a perpetually shady location.
The purpose of most greenhouses is to provide warm, sunny conditions for your plants. They do this by trapping as much light and warmth in 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. However, shade houses use varying types of shade cloth to filter out as much or as little sunlight as needed. Shade houses are perfect for shade-loving plants that need protection from the harsh rays of the sun. For example, orchids or ferns
Sawtooth greenhouses are designed so one section of the roof slope features a vertical gap. The roof can be an arched dome style or straight, as a gable roof would be. The vertical section of the roof allows for maximum ventilation. It has vent openings 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 design is slightly more intricate than the basic A-frame and hoop designs and may cost more to construct.
Choosing a Greenhouse Type - The Wrap-up
Each style of greenhouse serves its own unique purpose. One may be better suited to provide optimal airflow; another may be designed to provide the warmest hothouse conditions possible. One greenhouse may be perfect for a specific crop but may serve other species of plants poorly. Or, maybe, you care less about the actual functionality of the greenhouse. Instead, you might be more interested in creating a visually pleasing space to spend time enjoying your garden. Knowing what each greenhouse type can offer will help you pick the right style. You’ll spend only as much as you need to, and give your plants the perfect atmosphere in which to thrive.
Before building a greenhouse, remember, the style of the greenhouse you choose isn’t the only factor to consider. The atmosphere inside will be affected by several factors. For example, if you live in a cold climate, you may need to supplement the inside temperature with greenhouse heaters. Depending on light conditions, you might need to invest in grow lights. A greenhouse can provide protection from the elements, but tropical and fruiting plants still require more nurturing in colder areas. Your greenhouse might not maintain the light, temperature, or humidity levels you need. In this case, you’ll need to equip your space with extra accessories to create the environment your plants require.
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