Whether you’re gifted with the so-called green thumb or you just love being surrounded by plants, there are many reasons why you would want to have a greenhouse. Having a greenhouse in the yard can let you propagate your plants, or simply serve as a peaceful retreat after a tiring week. But since a greenhouse can cost a lot of money, you should put a lot of effort in researching about the best greenhouse available today.
In the United States, building a greenhouse can cost anywhere from $7,000 to $25,000. The expenses will vary depending on factors like the size of the greenhouse, materials used, excavation, and permits, among others. With the money involved in this project, you would really want to take your time in studying your options.
Best Greenhouse Kit
You don’t need to be an expert handyman or be gifted with excellent construction skills in order to build your own greenhouse. You can buy a greenhouse kit that lets you build from scratch. You also don’t need much building experience with a greenhouse kit, although having a DIY attitude certainly helps. The right greenhouse kit will extend your growing season.
Aside from sparing you the hassle of building your own greenhouse, opting for a greenhouse kit has other advantages as well, even as a hobby greenhouse. One is that you it is more time-saving. You may be tempted to build your greenhouse by purchasing wood locally, but think about the hours you will spend cutting wood and putting them together. With a greenhouse kit, you will have everything you need for your greenhouse.
In choosing a greenhouse kit, you should consider certain factors such as the frame and the glazing type.
In terms of frames, greenhouse kits are made either of aluminum or wood. There are pros and cons of each frame type. Wood is a bit more difficult to construct although it is more attractive than aluminum frames. Aluminum frames, however, are maintenance-free and can last forever. But an aluminum frame is less energy efficient compared to wood.
You can also opt for a hoop house frame made from a series of pipe hoops. It is covered with plastic that is fastened to baseboards. It is easy to build, but the problem is that it isn’t as durable as aluminum or wood greenhouse frames.
The glazing type is another factor that you will have to look into. Glazing pertains to the exterior covering of the greenhouse.
There are many glazing options like polyethylene which is available as sheet film or woven plastic. Polyethylene is cheap although it doesn’t offer enough insulation. You can also opt for glass, which is the most durable of all glazing although it is more difficult to cut and handle compared to plastic glazing. Fiberglass is another option, preferred for its strength and ease in cutting and handling.
There are other factors that you have to consider. If you live in a windy area, you will have to buy a strong glazing type. Polyethylene and hoop houses aren’t ideal in this regard as it is very susceptible to wind damage. You’d want fiberglass or multilayered polycarbonate instead.
Best Greenhouse Design
But what if you are skilled in carpentry and an expert DIYer? How can you construct your own greenhouse? The greenhouse design would depend on factors such as your skill level, space in the backyard, budget, and availability of materials. Greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes
If you have a large yard, you may want to build a traditional greenhouse with a rectangular shape, metal frame, and a pitched roof. It offers lots of growing space for your plants aside from maximizing light. Moreover, the traditional greenhouse has a classic design that blends well with its surroundings.
You can also opt for a barn which has a similar shape to that of the traditional greenhouse but has higher headroom. It is thus more appropriate for growing taller plants as well as vines and climbers. It also doesn’t require any base, which makes it easier to build than the traditional greenhouse.
Another type of greenhouse design that you may want to build is the heptagonal greenhouse. It is best suited for smaller gardens because it takes up minimal floor space while still giving a place to nourish your plants.
If you don’t really have enough space for a traditional greenhouse, you can try to build window-mounted greenhouse or go with a highly recommended mini-greenhouse. As the name suggests, it is attached outside the window. Ideally, it should be on the south or east side. The challenge however is to maintain a uniform temperature in this type of greenhouse.
Best Greenhouse Base
The base of the greenhouse can be made of wood, concrete, galvanized steel, or aluminum. There are a lot of considerations in choosing a greenhouse base, like insulation, drainage, and sturdy construction.
Wood is an excellent base for a greenhouse because first, it is strong enough to support a hefty structure. In terms of cost, it is also cheaper compared to steel or concrete. But it can be prone to rotting. You don’t want to use treated woods for the greenhouse base because it can release harmful chemicals to the soil that can hamper the growth of your plants. Instead, look for naturally resistant wood types like redwood, cedar, and cypress.
Concrete is the best material if you are to have a permanent greenhouse. It can last for a long time, and need not be replaced or repaired. It is sturdy and can support heavy materials ranging from wood to glass. The downside is that it is obviously a lot more expensive compared to wood, and doesn’t allow for contact with the ground. Concrete slab foundation would also need drains to be installed so as to prevent water build up which can result to mosquitoes thriving in the greenhouse.
Another problem with concrete is that it can require hard labor, as there is a need to dig a level area aside from adding gravel and subfloor materials. Concrete base isn’t exactly ideal if you have limited DIY skills.
Galvanized steel is like concrete as it is high in strength. It is also similar to wood as far as price is concerned as it is very cheap. Most greenhouse kits have frames made of galvanized steel. It is durable and long lasting. Moreover, it requires less frameworks that results to less shadows. The only concern here is that the polyethylene film will wear off and rust.
Aluminum is also strong, but not in the same level as steel and concrete. It’s slightly more expensive than wood. But it is easy to maintain and perhaps the longest-lasting base material because it won’t rot nor rust. It won’t also break down from UV rays.
Best Greenhouse Material
The good news for backyard gardeners is that there’s an ever-expanding list of materials that can be used for the greenhouse covering. There’s the conventional glass, as well as other materials such as polycarbonate, polyethylene plastic film, fiberglass, acrylic, and vinyl.
Glass is considered the most traditional greenhouse material. It is sturdy and durable enough to last for at least 30 years. And glass facilitates good light transmission. The problem however with glass is that it is very costly and two, it is a poor insulator. Moreover, it is difficult to replace if it is broken.
Polycarbonate is a material that has proven to be a good alternative to glass. It can last for at least 10 years. Polycarbonate greenhouse coverings also have UV treatments to prevent deterioration from sunlight exposure. It is lightweight, too. Some of the more popular brand names of polycarbonate panels are Sun-tuf, Zeluk, Tuffak, Lexan, and Dynaglas.
Moreover, polycarbonate is way cheaper than glass. It would be a lot cheaper to use polycarbonate panels for the covering of a small A-frame greenhouse, with 16mm triple wall panels.
Acrylic is also another option if you’re looking for a sturdy and durable greenhouse covering material. It’s a good choice if you live in an area where strong winds and snow occur. It may be quite expensive but it can last for at least 20 years.
If you are looking for the cheapest greenhouse frame covering, then it’s polyethylene that you need. A 12×25 feet roll that is enough to cover a 5×10 feet A-frame greenhouse can cost you just $10.
Fiberglass panels are translucent, yet like glass, allows much light into the greenhouse. Most manufacturers say that fiberglass panels can last for 10 to 15 years without yellowing or damage caused by UV rays. But compared to acrylic or polycarbonate, it is more expensive. A 5×10 feet A-frame house would need six fiberglass panels.
Lastly, vinyl has a nice, showroom-quality look. It can give you a nice and clear view of your greenhouse. But it won’t last too long, as a clear vinyl siding can last for only 5 years.
Now that you have an idea on the best design, frame, and material for your greenhouse, it would be easier for you to determine how to go build your own greenhouse. But buying a greenhouse kit isn’t a bad choice either, as you can have your own hothouse in the backyard almost instantaneously.