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Choosing The Right Greenhouse For Your Needs | North American Farmer

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Choosing The Right Greenhouse For You

Selecting the Right GreenhouseThere’s not quite like seeing the fruits of your labor. Vegetable gardens and flowerbeds filled with flavors and colors you started from seed; knowing you made it happen is gratifying and something you’ll likely want to repeat time and time again.

Growing your own plants is almost, dare I say, habit forming (in a good way, of course). And a greenhouse may be just what you need to ‘feed’ your habit. But the variations in greenhouses are about as broad as those between a rose and pumpkin, so if you’re thinking a greenhouse is for you, the following information will help you choose the right greenhouse, by helping you decide which type and size of greenhouse is just right for you.

What size should your greenhouse be?

Greenhouses come in all different sizes. Miniature raised bed ‘houses’ that are as small as 2×4 feet can be used in the smallest of spaces. Or you can have free-standing houses that are as small as 4×6 feet to commercial sizes of 100 feet or more.

When deciding what size of a greenhouse you need, you need to know:

  • How much room you have for your greenhouse
  • What you intend to do with your greenhouse (grow for yourself only or for profit)
  • How much time you have to devote to your greenhouse (they make growing easier, but it doesn’t just happen)
  • How large of a greenhouse are you willing to heat and/or cool

What are the different types of greenhouses?

There are two basic greenhouse designs; hoop houses and pitched roof style houses. There are also two main construction materials used for the ‘body’ of the greenhouse; poly carbonate and plastic sheeting. There are still some places you can still get kits in which the body of the greenhouse is tempered glass (usually 4mm). As for the frame, your options will likely be cedar or redwood, aluminum or steel. Let’s take a look at the differences in each of these so that you can make more informed decisions.

Hoop houses are just that; traditional crescent-shaped steel tubes covered in double-walled plastic sheeting that usually ranges from 3.5 to 5 mm. The two layers are attached to the bottom of the greenhouse’s frame and stretched up and over the hoops. The layers are separated by a fan that is attached to the inner layer and blows continually; creating a blanket of air that keeps the plastic taunt and creates insulation.

Pitched roof greenhouses can be constructed using any of the materials mentioned earlier. Most hobby greenhouses are pitched roof versions and use polycarbonate for the ‘body’. Polycarbonate is a hard and extremely durable clear, corrugated plastic. The sheets of polycarbonate are screwed to the frame of the greenhouse.

Knowing which option is best for you depends largely on your personal preference if your greenhouse is a small hobby greenhouse. But for larger houses the most cost effective construction is going to be a steel frame with double walled plastic sheeting.

What does it cost to build a greenhouse?

Greenhouses can be purchased for as little as a few hundred dollars to several thousand. A good quality hobby greenhouse with ample room for to grow a variety of flowers and/or vegetables will fun somewhere between $1000 and $5000. Most of these kits include everything needed to build the greenhouse including the frame, ‘body’, doors, fans, vents and hardware. Shelving, growing equipment, lighting, shade cloth and possibly even the furnace (if needed) will not be included.

Where is the best place to purchase a greenhouse?

Some major home improvement stores such as Lowe’s offers a number of different greenhouse kits for sale on their website, as well as a few in their stores.


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