Greenhouse pros and cons

Advantages & Disadvantages of Greenhouse Farming

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Sturdy and warm, they collect sunshine and condensation to create a content environment for living things to thrive. There are many benefits of a greenhouse. There are also some drawbacks when considering installing or building a greenhouse near your home. Understanding the pros and cons of greenhouse farming can ensure that the seedlings and tender leaved plants you covet can flourish where they are planted.

Greenhouse Materials

A greenhouse that is used for more than just starting seeds on their journey needs to be durable to withstand harsh weather in winter and summer. The sides and top are made of either glass or a thick plastic that has been treated, such as polycarbonate, to stand up to heavy rains and drastic changes in temperature throughout the seasons. A backyard greenhouse kit can give you all you need to set up a warm and stable environment to begin growing crops of peppers, tomatoes, onions and lettuces. The kits include hardware and siding and come in many shapes and sizes to fit a variety of budgets.

Benefits of a Greenhouse

If you enjoy gardening and feel the time spent away from the soil in the freezing winter or baking hot summers, then a greenhouse may be a good idea. They can add a pleasing aesthetic to your backyard with their architecture. The greenhouse can extend the growing season in your zone. The structure and materials of the green house trap heat from the sun inside. It heats up the ground while keeping the cool air and frozen ground outside its walls. During warmer months, cooling mechanisms and fans can keep the tender leaves from browning from exposure from the harsh summer sun. They offer the ability to have fresh vegetables, greens and even fruit well past the growing season for that variety. Fresh cut flowers can be had all year long. Insects and vermin that decimate vegetation are kept at bay.

Disadvantages of Greenhouse Farming

There are some disadvantages of the greenhouse effect, but mostly at the wallet’s expense. Greenhouse farming can get expensive. Depending on the material you intend to use, they can be costly in construction. If you choose a more useful greenhouse that is bulky and opaque over a well-designed greenhouse, they can take away from the aesthetic appeal of the overall garden. The water and electric bills will more than likely rise to heat and cool the inhabitants of the greenhouse. They also require constant care with maintaining the temperature, the residents and the structure itself.

Pros And Cons Of Growing In A Greenhouse

Every serious gardener has pondered a greenhouse purchase at one time or another, daydreaming about the ‘what ifs’ and envisioning the glorious bounties it would yield year round. After all, a greenhouse is a gardener’s delight. Of the many reasons to use a greenhouse, perhaps the most important is that it gives you the ability to control the environment so that no matter where you live, you can grow anything you want. BUT not everyone feels this way. Before you get too lost in that daydream, it’s important to do a reality check. Is getting a greenhouse really a good, or even a green idea? What are the pitfalls of using a greenhouse? Read on to learn about both sides of this debate.

Advantages of Using a Greenhouse

Mary Ellen’s viewpoint: There are so many pros of greenhouse gardening, but some people get hung up on the initial cost or the work that goes into building a greenhouse. If you can look past these, you’ll find that you never regret having a greenhouse and all the beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables you can grow in it. Among the many advantages of using a greenhouse, here are just a few:

Grow more, grow longer. The reason many gardeners turn to greenhouse gardening is to extend the growing season and to be able to grow more plants. With a greenhouse, you get to control the climate. The typical use is to create a warmer environment, so that in colder regions you can grow vegetables longer or even grow tropical plants that you otherwise could not. However, you can also cool a greenhouse to grow a greater variety of plants if you live in the tropics or sub-tropics.

Save money on produce. A greenhouse requires an initial, upfront cost, but over time you will recoup that cost and then some. Growing vegetables and fruits in a greenhouse allows you to create the right conditions to make it easier to get a greater yield of produce, including out of the season foods so you don’t have to pay high grocery store prices.

Keep out pests. The bane of every gardener’s existence is the ever-present threat of pests. For vegetable and flower gardeners, the threat of rabbits, raccoons, deer, and other critters is real and persistent. Protect your plants with a greenhouse and you don’t have to worry about pesky nature again.

Starting seeds. For the plants you begin by seeds and transplant to the garden, what better place to do it than in your very own greenhouse? With year-round warmth and protection, you can start seeds and tend to transplants whenever you want, and you won’t have to fill your basement, garage, mud room, or wherever you normally start seeds, with pots and soil and general messiness.

A cozy retreat in winter. The positive effects of greenhouse growing are not limited to the benefits for your plants. You, too, can enjoy your greenhouse. Just imagine a cold, snowy winter day and stepping into your own warm, tropical oasis filled with growing, thriving plants and flowers.

Pitfalls of Using a Greenhouse

Shelley’s viewpoint: Okay, so by now you’ve learned all about the potential positive effects of greenhouse growing, but before you get too comfortable and jump right in, consider the following cons of growing in a greenhouse:

High upfront and operating expenses. Well, it is certainly a “green idea” in that it is going to cost you some green – money, that is. Depending on the type and style of greenhouse you are considering, you could be spending several hundred or even thousands of dollars. You must ask yourself, “How long is it going to take me to see a return on this upfront investment – is it worth it?” And, it’s not only the upfront investment that should be factored in.

Temperature and air circulation are constant concerns in a greenhouse and may require additional purchases, such as fans and heaters, in order to regulate. And let’s not forget your gardening supplies either. All of this adds up. In a greenhouse, Mother Nature also isn’t directly watering your plants, so you are going to undoubtedly consume more water unless you have a rainwater collection system in place. All of these are greenhouse disadvantages and will have an impact on your utility bills which, in turn, is not such a green idea from a conservation standpoint.

Pest and disease issues. Granted, the contained environment of a greenhouse can buffer it against outside threats. However, in the same token, this contained environment can also make crops more vulnerable, yet another of many reasons against greenhouse gardening. Pests and disease, for example, can spread more rapidly in a greenhouse environment, affecting your entire greenhouse crop. It’s sort of like when a member of your household gets the flu – everyone in your house is eventually going to be affected. More vigilance and a very proactive stance is required to make sure that pests and diseases do not take hold and spread rampantly.

Pollination. In the closed environment of a greenhouse, plants that rely on pollination for fruit set may not get their pollination requirements met due to lack of bees or strong enough winds to shake pollen loose. This means intervention on your part is required to ensure pollination takes place whether it be gently shaking plants or tapping flowers or by using a paintbrush or cotton swab to transfer pollen from flower to flower.

Higher maintenance. A greenhouse builds up temperatures quickly and temperatures fluctuate throughout the day. You will need to constantly monitor the temperature in your greenhouse; otherwise, you run the risk of putting your plants under duress in extreme temperatures and this goes for both the hot and cold end of the spectrum. You will also need to constantly monitor hydration levels. Given that the interior of greenhouses tends to be warmer than outdoors, you may find that your soil tends to dry out more quickly.

Space and aesthetic considerations. While a greenhouse may be taking up a lot of space in your brain right now (because you really, really want one), take a moment to figure out what space you actually have in your yard to put one. Greenhouses can consume a lot of valuable backyard space and also may detract from its aesthetic appeal, as they can be quite imposing structures.

Do Greenhouse Disadvantages Outweigh the Pros of Greenhouse Gardening?

To enjoy produce all year, to be able to grow all year, and to enjoy the warmth of a greenhouse in the winter are all the reasons you need to get that greenhouse. You can probably come up with more reasons to use a greenhouse, but these alone are typically enough for most people. And if you have additional funds, time and space to invest towards a greenhouse, then your decision to purchase a greenhouse will be even easier. If not, however, you will want to consider gardening in a greenhouse only in your daydreams.

Lean-to Greenhouse:

Having a lean-to greenhouse on the side of the house, fence, shed or garage, will take up less space than a free-standing greenhouse, this is an advantage.

However, lean greenhouse models are frequently less desirable because there are limitations to where they can be located. They must go against an existing wall and there is usually more space in a yard, or open area.

Sometimes they are shadowed by their supporting building so they are best on a south facing wall. A greenhouse on a south-facing wall will cost far less to heat acting better as a Solar Greenhouse in cold months than any free-standing greenhouse, because the greatest amount of sunlight is collected from the south facing wall of the greenhouse.

There are however many benefits.

Lean-to Plans and Project Pics:

Aluminum Lean Greenhouse Project – Pictures of a self made lean-to greenhouse project.

Aluminum Lean to Greenhouse Project -Aluminum Greenhouse construction, of a lean to greenhouse. Also shows shade cloth in use, over a pre-fab aluminum lean-to kit. The flooring makes for great heat sinking and solar energy heating.
Strawbale and Salvaged Material Project – A Straw Bale greenhouse. This is a very resourceful build and they did it for under $200, made with salvaged materials.
Visit our Greenhouse Plans page for Free DIY Greenhouse plans.

Lean-to Video:

This video shows the set up overall – its up against a wall and it’s a lean to – but that’s about it. There is a really good video example on the Solar Greenhouse page.

This video is more of a raised bed cold frame style. If Raised bed greenhouses interest you there is another interesting video on the Greenhouse Videos Index page, showing how to make a raised bedhoop house. Great if you have some extra space in your yard.

Greenhouse Gardening Video Index

Makes for Easy Access:

The lean-to greenhouse allows you direct access from the attached building or your home.

If the plan is to have it attached to your house, another benefit is that much of the solar heat that is trapped in the greenhouse can even be used to partially heat a home.

Or even use the heat in your home to heat the greenhouse through an window or vent.

Location:

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a location for a lean greenhouse. Whatever building it is attached to may shadow the greenhouse in some parts of the day, limiting the sun exposure.

This is definitely something to consider when choosing the supporting wall where the greenhouse will be built. If the lean greenhouse doesn’t get enough sun exposure, artificial sunlight provided by grow lights may be necessary.

If artificial lighting is needed it is somewhat of an advantage to be attached to a wall, because electrical hookup for the lights may be more readily available, as well as water and any other utility hook-ups that may be needed.

Solar Greenhouse:

The lean-to greenhouse is also a good choice for the hobbyist that is relying on Solar Greenhouse gardening to keep the plants and vegetables heated and healthy. The Solar Greenhouse page also has a great video.

The wall, that the lean greenhouse is attached to, acts as Thermal Mass for the solar heat – basically acting like a sponge for the heat – when the temperature cools in the evening, the warmth from the days sun then radiates back into the greenhouse keeping it fairly warm.

Greenhouse Ventilation:

Being attached to a permanent structure, air circulation may be limited – limiting the amount of natural ventilation and air circulation.

Restricted Space:

The lean-to greenhouse is perfect for the enthusiast that is restricted in space.

Having a greenhouse on the side of the house or fence will take less space than a free-standing greenhouse, although the greenhouse is essentially cut in half, there will also be less space to work in.

Lean-to Greenhouse Pros and Cons:

    Pros:
  • Easy access to Utilities (e.g.Water and Electrical hook up)
  • Greater insulation and solar heating. (Wall insulates and acts as a Thermal mass).
      Cons:
  • Limited Space
  • Limited Light
  • Greenhouse Foundation Options

    In colder climates or wherever you want to grow vegetables and plants when the weather is not ideal, a greenhouse is the way to do it, but in order to support it you will need to build a greenhouse foundation. A greenhouse consists of a metal frame with either glass or composite panes. Although not nearly the weight of a garage let alone a house, a greenhouse nonetheless needs a good support system to stay level and workable. There are a number of different materials you can use to build your greenhouse foundation. Concrete, brick and timber are the three that will be discussed here, briefly outlining the pros and cons of each.

    Concrete

    Laying a concrete foundation for your greenhouse will be the most durable option. A concrete foundation benefits from its inherent strength and uniformity. Properly framed, a foundation made from concrete will last a long time, and if it is correctly sealed, it will be protected from the elements. For large greenhouses, a concrete foundation makes the most sense as the greater the weight of the frame, the more important it is to have a solid structure supporting it.

    On the other hand, pouring a slab of concrete large and thick enough to support a greenhouse can be both time consuming and expensive. If you were to hire a contractor, it could easily run into the thousands of dollars. Doing it yourself may save you some money, but the labor involved is extensive.

    Brick

    Another option for a greenhouse foundation is brick. With a properly smoothed and leveled bed of earth, interlocking brick pavers can be laid that offer support for a greenhouse comparable to concrete. Although labor intensive, it is less so than pouring your own concrete foundation. And unlike concrete, if ever a section of brick were to crack, replacement is a matter of changing out the necessary number of bricks.

    You can opt to simply fit the bricks together in an interlocking pattern or use mortar to secure them. Using mortar will require more labor and cost, but it will give you an even firmer base upon which to build a greenhouse. The initial cost of brick may exceed the raw materials required for pouring a concrete foundation, but there is a mutual tradeoff of labor vs. cost between the two options.

    Timber

    A timber foundation, or one constructed out of lumber, is yet another option. For homes, garages and other buildings, the lowest level of lumber is always secured to a concrete foundation. Thus, merely laying out a few slabs of wood for a foundation will work only for the smallest of greenhouses. If the land is very flat and level and the greenhouse is of modest size, constructing a foundational frame out of pressure treated wood is a viable option. Use 4 to 6 concrete support blocks with brackets built in. These in turn support 4×6 floor beams which support the appropriate number of 2×6 floor joists. Atop these go plywood or another type of sub floor, followed by any linoleum or flooring of your choice. If your greenhouse is not too big, this is a very workable idea that won’t cost you as much as hiring a concrete crew or purchasing hundreds of interlocking bricks.

    Several different materials are available to you for your greenhouse foundation. Concrete, brick and lumber all present an effective way to support a greenhouse, whatever its size. Cost, labor and strength are all factors to consider before you make a choice.

    Concrete foundation pros and cons

    If you want to grow plants that don’t develop in the climate you live in, then the greenhouse is the solution. But before you build the greenhouse, you must first build the greenhouse foundation. Even though the metal frame with the glass or composite panes that form the greenhouse doesn’t weigh as much as a garage, it still need a good foundation.

    From the multitude of material you can choose from to build the foundation, we will discuss about the upsides and downsides of brick, concrete and timber.

    Bricks

    After smoothing and leveling the ground, you can interlock brick paves, and the result is comparable to concrete. This method is labor intensive, but as much as the concrete option. Another advantage is that unlike the concrete, in case of a crack, bricks are easier to replace.

    You can choose between just interlocking the bricks, or use mortar to glue them together. The decision to add mortar will is more costly and labor demanding, but the foundation will be firmer. The bricks may cost more than the materials needed for pouring the concrete, but the labor-cost ratio is good.

    Concrete

    Besides being the most durable option, the concrete foundation has strenght and uniformity. If it’s properly framed and sealed, the concrete foundation will last a long time and avoid the wrath of the elements. If in case of small greenhouses we talk about concrete as an option, in case of large greenhouses the concrete is the only suitable solution, due to the great frame weight.

    The drawback of this option is that it can be expensive and both time and labor consuming. If you hire somebody to pour it, it will get you up to several thousands of dollars, while doing it yourself will exhaust you.

    Timber

    The third option is timber, or lumber. It is important to know that all structures (houses, garages and other) have their timber foundation secured by a concrete one. That’s is why these option is suitable only for small greenhouses. After you have flattened the and leveled the land, here is what you need to do. Take 4 to 6 concrete support blocks with built in brackets, put the 4×6 floor beams and on top of that put all the 2×6 floor joints you need. Add plywood, then linoleum, and there you have it. If the greenhouse is a small-sized one, this option is the cheapest solution.

    Besides concrete, lumber and bricks, there are other materials that can support your greenhouse. Before you decide on the material, think about cost, time, labor and the strength you need to do it.

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    Benefits of an Attached Greenhouse

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    I’m in love with our attached greenhouse. When we found our off-grid homestead, I’ll admit the greenhouse was one of the main selling points. Finally, a convenient place for starting all my seedlings for our summer garden! I had no idea that the greenhouse would become such a part of our day to day lives, and truly essential for running our homestead.

    The main benefit actually has nothing to do with plants or gardening. It has to do with warmth.

    If it’s sunny, it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside, the greenhouse will be cooking. We have a door that leads from the greenhouse into our kitchen, and three full wall height windows that we can open to let the warmth into the house. Some years, if it’s sunny enough, we can go several weeks mid-winter without running any heat. That’s January…in Vermont…with no added heat.

    Beyond physical warmth, there’s also the psychological benefit. When it’s -20 outside, and has been for seemingly forever, there’s nothing better than stepping “outside” into a 90-degree greenhouse in a tank top to enjoy a cup of tea.

    The way our greenhouse is built, it’s more of an extra room than a simple greenhouse, which really expands the options in our 1 room cabin style home.

    The attached greenhouse provides extra living space and is comfortable for lounging on sunny days year round. That’s our homegrown ginger growing in a pot to the right. Note: Sexy greenhouse does not include my sexy literate husband. Extra charges may apply.

    Starting Seeds in an Attached Greenhouse

    While I assumed that the greenhouse would be the perfect place to start my seedlings, it’s actually not as great as you might think. Many seeds need to be started indoors in late winter to get a headstart on our very short Vermont growing season. That means starting some seeds as early as February.

    It’s true, the greenhouse is warm on sunny days, but it doesn’t keep the constant warm temperatures that seeds need to germinate. Cold isn’t the only problem. When the sun does come out, the greenhouse can rapidly heat to 100 degrees or more if you’re not watching, even if it’s below zero outside. With the cold outside temps, all the vents are closed so it could be dangerous for fragile seedlings.

    Seedlings getting a start in our attached greenhouse. It’s late in the season, so the greenhouse is working more as a cold frame at night and the doors and vents are open during the day.

    Heavy winter snows can also cover the glass and block out sunlight, and even without snow, the days are remarkably short in late winter.

    Pests are also a huge problem. Since the temperatures stayed relatively warm over the winter, and heat up quickly in the spring, pests are quick to come out of hibernation and attack tender seedlings. Aphids have been a particular problem, and they’ll destroy or stunt seedlings.

    With all those considerations in mind, we do some of our earliest seed starting inside the house. For tender seeds, it’s best to think of the attached greenhouse as one giant cold frame. The greenhouse can be used to grow out seedlings and help harden them off before planting, but we don’t count on it for seed starting.

    Paved Floor or Dirt Floor Greenhouse

    I love the idea of planting right in the dirt, but practically speaking I’m glad our greenhouse has a floor. Managing extra soil moisture against our basement could turn into a nightmare, not to mention a disruption in the freeze/thaw cycle of the ground right against the foundation.

    Having a real floor in the greenhouse also makes it seem more like living space.

    Greenhouse Moisture Issues & Drainage

    Whether you have a paved floor or a dirt floor, drainage will be an issue. Ours has a drain in the floor at one end that shunts water about 100 feet away from the house into a runoff ditch.

    As far as the siding of your house goes, I’d still consider the inside of the greenhouse to be an “outdoor” space and you should weatherproof your house accordingly. Ours has a vapor barrier under cedar V-groove planking that gives it a bit of an interior look, but much or the resilience of an exterior finish.

    Be sure to use flashing to keep any water running down the side of your house from infiltrating the attachment point at the top of the greenhouse. Our greenhouse uses a rubberized barrier that slips up under the cedar siding above the greenhouse and flaps over the top edge of the greenhouse to allow any water to just keep flowing down the outside.

    Roof Angles & Snow Load

    Since our greenhouse has a significant slope, snow load isn’t as much of an issue as you might think. We take a large push broom out and sweep it off, which allows sunlight to warm the glass. That warmth melts any last remaining bits of snow off and helps keep the attached solar panels free of snow.

    The main issue is ice. The roof above the greenhouse has an icebreaker bar to break up falling roof ice as it comes down to help protect the greenhouse. We haven’t had any issues yet with broken glass or panels, even with substantial ice. It is a bit terrifying when the ice does fall through. Such a crash, and there’s a part of me that always worries.

    Solar panels on our attached greenhouse. Extra heat from the greenhouse ensures they melt out quickly in the winter. Note the icebreaker bar on the roof above, and the black rubberized flashing right above the panels.

    Incorporating Solar Pannels into an Attached Greenhouse

    The solar panels at the top of our greenhouse just make sense. In the winter months, the sun angle is lower and most of the light directly impacts the glass. The solar panels don’t shade the greenhouse at all. In the summer, when the sun is higher in our northern latitude, the solar panels shade the greenhouse and the windows on the side of the house, which keeps everything nice and cool even in the heat of the day.

    The greenhouse environment under the panels also means that the solar panels melt out quickly after snow storms. We have other solar panels attached to our shop/garage and they’re very high up on a steep roof. When we have an ice storm, there’s no way to clear those panels and they can remain useless for weeks at a time. That’s not the case with our greenhouse panels, which provide a much more reliable source of off-grid electricity.

    By May, the greenhouse is full of seedlings and tender houseplants like our lemon trees. Note that the panels are already starting to shade the greenhouse, and many of the seedlings are in shade against the house even in this mid-day picture. Also, note the cedar siding protecting the side of the house.

    Summer Heat Considerations

    A greenhouse is designed to trap heat, and when the days are long and warm, too much heat can be a problem. Our greenhouse has a door on each end that we leave open all summer long. In the late spring, we open the two full-length vents, one at the top of the greenhouse and the other along the south side. Those vents are operated by antique hand crank mechanisms, which means we’re not dependent on electricity for venting.

    Manual venting has its benefits off-grid since you’re not dependent on power or computers. It also has downsides. We have to plan ahead if we’re leaving the house and vent the greenhouse if we think it might be sunny later. It doesn’t take more than 20 minutes or so of direct summer sun to bring temperatures up to dangerous levels for the plants in a fully closed greenhouse.

    There are many times I wish we had an automated vent attached to a temperature sensor. In an ideal situation, install something automated, but have manual backups.

    The greenhouse in the early summer. The beds have just been replanted. Note the yellow gears on the left, those are used to open and close the vents.

    Greenhouse Pest Problems

    Continuously warm temperatures mean that once pests take hold, they can really rage out of hand. While ladybugs go to bed for the winter, aphids will keep right on going if temperatures are favorable and they have a food source.

    We originally grew winter greens such as arugula, claytonia and tatsoi in the greenhouse to supply our family all winter long. It was great until warmer temperatures in March arrived. The aphids woke up and devastated the greens. We tried just about every organic control on the books, but the greens were still painted with aphids and eventually died.

    We’ve since changed our plan.

    The only year-round crops we grow in the greenhouse are herbs, which have their own defenses. We never have pest problems on rosemary, oregano, tulsi and thyme.

    Beyond pests that impact the plants, we also have pests that impact our house. Wasps are a significant problem. They love the warm environment and it’s a constant battle to keep them from building nests in the eves inside the greenhouse. We hang a non-toxic sight lure wasp trap and we have to change it out monthly in warm weather because it becomes so covered in wasps.

    The biggest problem is keeping the wasps out of the house when we’re trying to use the greenhouse to heat the house in the spring. Be sure to install good screens on any windows that lead to the greenhouse, because pest pressure is actually higher inside the greenhouse as compared to the rest of the outdoors.

    This is Part 8 of the Gnome’s Greenhouse Guide. It considers the benefits and pitfalls of freestanding and attached greenhouses. But it doesn’t stop there! The guide is packed with a lot more super useful stuff about greenhouses you won’t want to miss, so check it out from the beginning.

    Updated: October 30, 2019

    Freestanding greenhouse

    PROS

    Design – A freestanding greenhouse can be any shape or style.

    Flexibility – Can be oriented east to west to maximize the amount of light it receives.

    Location – Can be located anywhere as long as it is sheltered from winter winds, where the soil is well drained, and where it is easily accessible. It can also be placed near the garden, making it easier to move plants in and out of the structure.

    Expandable – If you need more space it can be expanded as needed

    Size – Whereas the size of an attached greenhouse is limited by the building to which it is attached, freestanding greenhouses can be as large as you like.

    CONS

    Distance – Power and water will need to be brought to the greenhouse. This may require digging a ditch to lay a water pipe below the frost line or using an extension cord for electrical power. The extra distance from the home as compared to an attached greenhouse also means that it will be used less and will require more energy to go to and from the greenhouse to the house multiple times per day.

    Heat loss – Freestanding greenhouses experience higher heat loss than attached greenhouses because all four sides are exposed to the elements. To most effectively cut down on heat loss you can insulate the north side of the greenhouse. Bubble wrap or layers of polyethylene sheeting can be used for insulation, though this significantly cuts down on the light levels in the greenhouse, leading to your plants suffering sunburn when you bring them outside in the spring.

    Inconvenience – If you live in a climate where it snows in winter, your greenhouse is more likely to get buried after a heavy snowfall and since it’s farther away from your home you’re less likely to walk out there to clean it.

    Security – More susceptible to theft due to its easy accessibility. For this reason, you should keep the structure securely locked.

    Our Picks

    If you’re looking for a gorgeous, freestanding greenhouse, then the Exaco Royal Victorian is the greenhouse for you. This is the best greenhouse on the market, with high ratings and attractive aesthetics.

    The Royal Victorian greenhouse is small enough to comfortably fit on almost any property. But, it is also large enough to accommodate a wide variety of plant life. If you’re an avid gardener with a lot of grandiose plans for plant-keeping, this is a great way to ensure the plants’ safety and longevity.

    It does sport some customizable features. You can choose where to install the sliding glass door, for example. All of the panels of this greenhouse are one solid glass piece, so it’s easy to arrange exactly where you want the door to be positioned.

    At no extra charge, this greenhouse comes with a misting system that promises to keep your plants comfortably hydrated and the inside of your greenhouse perfectly humid. All you have to provide is the water source and hose! This will save you money on having to purchase a completely separate misting or sprinkling system.

    The foundation frame is six feet tall, without accounting for the roof or peak of the greenhouse. No matter how tall you may be, you’ll have plenty of headroom to work around the greenhouse comfortably. You won’t have to worry about running out of space for shelves or feeling cramped.

    This greenhouse is built with high-quality materials. The frame is made of a powder-coated, heavy-duty aluminum that is thick and durable. It resists rust, corrosion, and daily wear and tear. The panels of this greenhouse are 4mm thick laminated glass. This glass is not only the safest kind of glass for greenhouses, but it’s guaranteed to stay clear and resilient in almost any weather conditions. It’s rated to withstand high winds, heavy snow, and intense heat without fail.

    There’s a 15-year warranty included with the purchase of this greenhouse. Additionally, the customer service team for this manufacturer is fantastic. They’re punctual, polite, and helpful with every call or email.

    If you’re not totally comfortable with an all-glass freestanding greenhouse, then a great alternative is one made of polycarbonate plastic. The best polycarbonate greenhouse out there right now is the Rion Grand Gardener 2.

    This particular greenhouse has all of the aesthetic beauty and clarity of a glass greenhouse with none of the potential safety risks. Polycarbonate plastic won’t shatter like glass can, and the plastic used in this greenhouse is crystal-clear. It also offers full UV protection.

    Available in four different sizes, you’re sure to find one that fits your gardening needs and is about your available yard space for placement. You can also choose the panels – the crystal-clear polycarbonate, or the twin-wall polycarbonate panels, which are a bit more private.

    The twin-wall panels are standard for the roof of this greenhouse, but as side panels, they will additionally diffuse any harsh external light by approximately 90 percent. This provides the inside of the greenhouse with a soft, even penetration of light. It’s ideal for a mixture of plants that may have low-light needs, as it will be hard to overwhelm them. If you have plants with higher light cravings, you could add small, LED grow lights.

    The barn-style roof is high enough to offer plenty of headroom for easy maneuverability, while also optimizing all available spaces for your plants. The roof also has a convenient vent for ventilation and to aid in the proper circulation of the air in your greenhouse.

    Durable, safe, and attractive, this is a fantastic greenhouse for all of your gardening needs!

    Attached greenhouse

    PROS

    Extra space – Provides additional living space, adding several hundred square feet to your home.

    Daytime heat source – Source of additional heat during winter daylight hours. During long winter nights, however, you’ll need to use blinds or shades to slow heat loss through the glazing.

    Insulation – Provides additional insulation for your home. Acting as a buffer between the walls of the home and the outdoors, an attached greenhouse can increase the insulation value of an exterior wall by 10 to 15 percent.

    Humidifier – Source of humidity for your home during dry winter months. If you suffer from aches and pains when humidity levels drop, you may find that an attached greenhouse alleviates such symptoms.

    Easy access – Plants can be easily tended to at any time without having to walk outside—particularly useful in the winter as you don’t have to shovel snow to get into the greenhouse.

    Added value – In most cases an attached greenhouse will increase the value of your home.

    CONS

    Insects – Insects can more easily find their way into your home via the greenhouse. If you spray insecticides in the greenhouse to get rid of them, the spray can also get into your home.

    Heat in the summer – All greenhouses get hot during the summer months and attached structures will vent that extra heat into the home. A well-designed attached greenhouse includes ways to vent excess heat, shade the structure and close it off from the home.

    Potential for rot – Because plants transpire, greenhouses are humid. This humidity can get into the walls of your home and cause rot. When installing an attached greenhouse, you will need to add a good vapor barrier over the wooden walls of your home where the greenhouse is attached to prevent humidity from getting to the wood.

    Inflexible – An attached greenhouse’s size may be restricted by the size of the space available beside your home. This can limit your future expansion or even the size of the plants that you can grow.

    Orientation – The most efficient greenhouses face due south or slightly southeast. If you cannot build on a site with southern exposure, you won’t get optimal results. If you attach your greenhouse to a wall that does not face south, which may be good for certain types of plants, it will be more expensive to heat in winter.

    Cleanliness – In an attached greenhouse, you will want to promptly clean up dropped soil lest you track dirt into your home.

    When you don’t have a lot of extra yard space but still want an attractive, walk-in greenhouse, attaching one to your home is a fantastic option! There’s no better attached greenhouse than the Rion Sun Room 2 for this.

    With an attractive curb appeal and a comparatively low price, this attached greenhouse is guaranteed to meet and exceed your gardening needs and expectations. It is designed and manufactured to be durable and maintenance-free with years of use.

    The frame is made of a heavy-duty resin which is sturdy and able to withstand a lot of daily use and exposure. The panels are made of a 3mm thick translucent acrylic, not glass or screen. This makes them safe for use even if you have rambunctious pets or small children that may frequently enter the greenhouse. The panels are 100 percent UV protected, so along with being as attractive as glass, they are much safer by comparison.

    The roof of this attached greenhouse is also protective. It is a 4mm thick twin-wall polycarbonate plastic, offering great, full-coverage UV protection. It is guaranteed to endure harsh weather conditions, such as high winds and snow, without any problems.

    The door of this greenhouse is hinged. Along with the easily-accessible roof vent, this will allow for adequate air circulation and ventilation for the greenhouse space. For especially hot climates or summer days, this is a great dual-feature.

    This greenhouse comes with a limited seven-year warranty through the manufacturer. It may take some time to assemble this attached greenhouse, but it’s absolutely worth it according to customer reviews on both Amazon and Target.com.

    If you want something made with materials a little sturdier, or an attached greenhouse that matches the darker colors of your home, another great pick is the Sojag Outdoor Charleston Solarium.

    This is an all-season sunroom or gazebo. The greenhouse is made of aluminum coated in an attractive dark grey powder that resists harsh weather conditions, high winds, and things like rust, corrosion, or general deterioration.

    The roof of this greenhouse is made of galvanized steel that has also been powder-coated for added protection. The steel is incredibly durable, and the powder coating is primarily a protective zinc, which will protect the steel from premature rust and corrosion.

    This means weather conditions like rain, snow, ice, and hail are handled without a problem. However, the manufacturer still suggests taking appropriate action in inclement weather. An example of this is to make sure you remove any accumulated snow from the roof of the greenhouse.

    The window paneling of this greenhouse is made of clear PVC. Additionally, the walls of this sunroom have mosquito netting to ensure you don’t have any unwanted guests entering your greenhouse.

    One of the best things about this attached greenhouse is that it is certifiably flame-resistant. This solarium meets CPAI-84 international flame-resistant safety standards. You would be hard-pressed to find a safer, more durable attached greenhouse for your home and gardening needs.

    Available in two sizes, 10-feet by 13-feet and 10-feet by 16-feet, this attached greenhouse should fit most standard houses without too much hassle. You will have to assemble this greenhouse yourself, and the manufacturer suggests that it takes approximately five hours to construct when two people are assembling it.

    Some reviews insist that two people working on the greenhouse isn’t necessary for proper assembly and installation, while others say that they completed the construction in the five-hour approximation with the appropriate help or extra.

    The general consensus is that the roof was the most difficult part of this greenhouse to properly assemble, so keep that in mind if you decide to purchase this product. You may also want to take extra precautions if the greenhouse is not fully flush against your home, by sealing it with silicone sealant to prevent any possible leaks.

    Even so, this is one of the best attached greenhouses available on the market. It is a great alternative at a similar price point to the Rion that was suggested earlier on.

    featured image: ladyleaf; image 1: Scott Webb

    A Greenhouse Structure Overview

    Are you researching greenhouse structure types? What will fit your Backyard Greenhouse Gardening needs? Get the lowdown on the different types of greenhouse structures there pros and cons, follow the links to more detailed greenhouse information. Here we go:

    Post and Rafter greenhouses (Conventional)

    The Post and Rafter design along with the A-frame are two of the most common greenhouse structures due to the simple construction of embedded post and rafters. This design is among the strongest with the rafters lending support to the roof. As the design is top-heavy, the frame must be footed, which will increase costs relative to other design options.

    Covering material options: Typically glass, however rigid translucent poly-carbonate glazing panels are now being used in many greenhouse kits (lowering the overall cost relative to glass).

    Pros: Simple straightforward design. Maximize usage of space along the side walls. More efficient air circulation, particularly alongside walls.

    Cons: Requires more material (wood and metal) vs. other designs.

    Ideal location: Open field/backyard, south facing.

    Buy the Palram Nature Series Mythos Hobby Greenhouse here.

    A-Frame

    One of the most common greenhouse structures, the key advantages are its simplicity of design and minimization of materials versus other similar structures (Post & Rafter). Their popularity falls on the simplicity of bringing together the roof and side walls to create a singular triangular A-frame.

    Covering material options: Typically glass, however rigid translucent poly-carbonate glazing panels are now being used in many greenhouse kits (lowering the overall cost relative to glass).

    Pros: Simple straightforward design. Less material used relative to the Post and Rafter design (its most comparable design alternative).

    Cons: Narrowing side walls limits the functional use of the entire greenhouse footprint. Air circulation can also be problematic in the corners.

    Ideal location: Open field/backyard, south facing.

    Gothic Arch

    This gothic arch Backyard Greenhouse structures style features walls that have been bent over the frame to create a pointed roof. This method eliminates the need for structural trusses, and decreasing the number of construction materials required.

    Covering material options: Plastic Sheeting

    Pros: Simple and efficient shape and design allows for easy water and snow runoff. Using plastic sheeting reduces the design cost, also conserves heat.

    Cons: Lower sidewall height restricts storage space and headroom.

    Ideal location: Open field/backyard, south facing.

    Windowfarm

    A Windowfarm is a vertical, indoor garden. Window farming is by far one of our favourite gardening DIY projects here at Greenhouse Fanatics. A Windowfarm allows plants to use natural window light, your living space climate control and “liquid soil”. This is vertical hydroponic farming at its finest.

    Check out this awesome tutorial on creating your very own Windowfarm.

    Pros: This system is simple elegant DIY, allowing anyone the opportunity to grow fresh produce anywhere.

    Cons: This is a hydroponic system which requires more components (nutrients, pumps, and tubes) and maintenance than a typical soil-based greenhouse.

    Ideal location: Any light receiving window, optimally a south-facing window, is all that’s required.

    Hoop House

    Also known as a Quonset design, this greenhouse structure is a staple for many commercial growing operations. Built from curved or arched rafters, the hoop houses employ aluminum pipes or PVC pipes to create its form.

    Covering material options: Plastic Sheeting

    Pros: Relatively easy to build and adapt to small growing spaces. Inexpensive relative to other designs. The shape allows for easy water and snow runoff

    Cons: The frame design is not as sturdy as other frames such as the A-frame or Post and Rafter.

    Ideal location: Open field/backyard, south facing.

    Lean-to Greenhouse / Attached Greenhouses

    Attached greenhouses are exactly what you would expect: greenhouses that share a wall with an existing structure, traditionally constructed on the back of the house, optimally south facing. In some instances, they are also attached to sheds. Have a look at this three sub-types which include lean-to greenhouses, window-mounted greenhouses, and attached even-span greenhouses.

    Lean-to Greenhouses

    Lean-to greenhouses are constructed against an existing building using that structure as support for one or more of its sides. In typical cases, lean-to greenhouses are attached to a house.

    Attached Even-Span Greenhouses

    Attached even-span greenhouses are less common than lean-to greenhouses, however, they also share a wall with an existing structure. The big difference with an attached even-span greenhouse, well it appears very similar to a freestanding greenhouse, is that it is attached at one gable end to an existing structure. So basically, it doesn’t “lean” at all against the structure, it has its own symmetrical roof. Size-wise attached even-span greenhouses can be much larger than lean-to greenhouses and there are a number of design options available. The largest advantage of an attached even-span greenhouse is they are less expensive than a freestanding glass greenhouse and can provide a substantial amount of growing space. Just like with lean-to greenhouses, water and electricity are more accessible. Attached even-span greenhouses have an increased cost compared to other attached greenhouses.

    Window-Mounted Greenhouses

    Window-mounted greenhouses are special structures built into a window frame of a home, usually on a south-facing wall.

    Covering material options: Typically glass, however rigid translucent twin-wall poly-carbonate glazing panels are now being used in many greenhouses kits (lowering the overall cost relative to glass).

    Pros: Since the greenhouse shares a wall with a structure, typically construction costs are lower compared to a freestanding glass greenhouse (A-frame, post, and rafter). Water, heat, and electricity are also generally close at hand.

    Cons: Temperature control is more difficult because the wall that the greenhouse is built on may collect the sun’s heat, while the greenhouse wall windows may lose heat rapidly.

    Ideal location: Southern Exposed, attachment to a house or other suitable structure

    Cold Frame

    Extending the growing season is really the goal of Backyard Greenhouse gardening. This is where the cold frame greenhouse structure comes into play. It is the cheapest and simplest greenhouse option. A cold frame is literally a cover that you place over your garden with glass or plastic. It protects your plants from frost, general low temperatures, rain, snow, and wind.

    Covering material options: Whatever you want. As a DIY option glass, plastic sheeting, even poly-carbonate whatever your budget can handle. It just needs to be easily opened for ventilation of heat.

    Pros: Simplicity is what the cold frame has going for it. Manageable cost. Can be built from old wood pallets, and old house windows.

    Cons: Overheating is a big problem for cold frames, one day of sun with closed windows can cause massive plant damage. Materials quality can be another set back when working with reclaimed materials.

    Ideal location: In the garden.

    Watch a video about using a Cold Frame here.

    Ultimately, the right greenhouse for you is one which you will use for a long period of time – one which meets your demands and fits in with your lifestyle. Once you’re happy with your choice, read our guide on getting the most out of your new greenhouse. What works for some growers may not meet your requirements. More complex plans may be just up your alley, sometimes those plans can stifle success. Grow smart, not hard! Gardening advocates advise that you start with a basic, structure like a pop-up greenhouse so you can get the hang of your new plant responsibilities. The full-size challenges of Backyard Greenhouse gardening await! If you’re looking for more in-depth greenhouse reviews or comparisons, .

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