If you’re serious about gardening, you have probably entertained the idea of having a greenhouse at some point. Greenhouses can be amazing additions to your garden and can make it possible for you to garden all year long.
This page is dedicated to going over the different types of greenhouses so that you can make an informed decision about what greenhouse you might want to purchase. For example, do you want to be able to garden all year round, or do you want to extend your gardening season by a few weeks? Do you want a standalone greenhouse or one that is attached to your house? Do you want one that is automated to regulate temperature on its own, or do you want to be more hands on? What is your budget? How much room do you have?
We’ll address all of these topics here and by the time you’re done with this, you’ll be able to get the best bang for your buck.
Greenhouses vs. Cold Frames
One of the questions that you’ll want to consider when deciding which greenhouse to purchase is whether you want a greenhouse or a cold frame. Cold frames are essentially mini greenhouses that have minimal insulation and protection from the elements, but do enough of a job to extend your season by a few weeks. Cold frames are an extremely cost-friendly alternative to greenhouses. They’re also incredibly easy to move around and store. Often times, they’re made out of soft plastic, metal rods, and/or fabric. You can pick up a decent cold frame for less than $100 in many cases, such as this one or this one.
In contrast, greenhouses are usually much larger than cold frames and are very useful in propagating seeds or nursing young plants. They have much more protection from the elements than cold frames and sturdier construction, so depending on the type of greenhouse you purchase, you could potentially extend your growing season through the entire year.
There are different kinds of greenhouses you can purchase depending on your gardening enthusiasm, ranging from starter greenhouses, to grower greenhouses.
Starter greenhouses will run you a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Many of them come with windows you can open to allow ventilation, which may be necessary for the hotter months. Depending on the style of starter greenhouse you decide on, deconstruction of the greenhouse may be labor-intensive. As a result, it’s best to know where you’re going to put your greenhouse before you buy it. Starter greenhouses are extremely useful–with enough space, you can store your gardening supplies in them along with your plants.You can usually purchase your starter greenhouse as a kit, which will make setting up your greenhouse a breeze! Here’s an example of a starter greenhouse. Starter greenhouses, as well as cold frames, also can be purchased as lean-to’s, an example of that here. Lean-to’s are a great option for those who want to keep their greenhouses closer to their homes. An additional benefit of lean-to’s is that the warmth and shelter from your house can keep your lean-to (and plants!) a little warmer.
Grower greenhouses are larger than your starter greenhouses and will allow you to grow crops all year long. Here’s an example of a grower greenhouse. Generally, these greenhouses will have enough space for you to store all of your gardening supplies, as well as harvested crops! Because of the size, you’re going to want to know exactly where you’re going to put them before obtaining your grower greenhouse. Almost all grower greenhouses will have adjustable windows for ventilation, and, depending on where you live, you’ll want to consider whether the build material will need to be strong enough to handle snow.
If you’re still on the fence about which greenhouse to get, you should consider your temperature needs. Greenhouses are often differentiated by their temperature level, and when considering your greenhouse, you should keep the ideal temperature level in mind.
A cool greenhouse is one that will have an inside temperature range of about 45 degrees. This temperature is excellent for germinating seeds and hardening off plants that are a little more mature. A cold frame or minimal starter greenhouse makes a great option for cool greenhouses.
Warm greenhouses are intended to have an internal temperature of about 55 degrees. With this temperature, you’ll be able to grow plats or flowers as you would outside. Generally, you’ll need to supplement these greenhouses with additional grow lights or heaters for the cooler months. Starter greenhouses and some grower greenhouses fall under this category.
A hot house greenhouse is intended to house exotic or tropical plants and has an internal temperature in the 70+ degree range. Heaters and grow lamps are essential in order to successfully grow plants in this type of greenhouse.
Now that you’ve got the basics of greenhouses covered, here are some links for the best greenhouses on the market broken down into different types: