Choosing A Greenhouse
Growing under glass provides a protected environment ideal for raising seedlings, overwintering frost-tender plants, growing greenhouse crops (such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers etc.), raising crops earlier and growing them for longer or cultivating plants that need protection all year round.
Having a greenhouse lets you extend the growing season by sowing plants earlier. It also enables you to grow a much wider range of plants than could be grown outdoors.
A greenhouse is a major investment and, once installed in your garden, is difficult to move or change. This is why it is important that you spend some time deciding which greenhouse to buy. With so many greenhouses available to choose from it can sometimes be difficult to know which to select.
Hopefully this guide will provide you with sufficient information to allow you to purchase the best greenhouse for you and your garden.
The Greenhouse Frame
Aluminium greenhouses have always been the most popular type of greenhouse, whether the frame is left natural or if it has a painted finish. You may find that a coloured greenhouse will suit your particular style of garden or will be less obtrusive (especially if your greenhouse can be seen from your home).
One of the reasons that the aluminium greenhouse is so popular is that they are virtually maintenance free as aluminium will not rust or rot even in the great British weather!
Another reason for aluminium framed greenhouses being popular is that the glazing bars are relatively narrow, so maximum light can get into the greenhouse.
You will also find that aluminium greenhouses heat up and cool down quicker than wooden greenhouses and they also tend to be cheaper to buy than a wooden greenhouse of the same size.
Traditional wooden greenhouses are often regarded as being a more attractive alternative to aluminium greenhouses and they are better at retaining heat than aluminium greenhouses (it has been estimated that a wooden greenhouse will cost 20% less to heat than a greenhouse of the same size with an aluminium frame).
You will often find wooden greenhouses available with glass to ground (standard with most aluminium greenhouses) but you will also find styles with half boarded sides which help them to retain even more heat, but are not suitable if you want to grow direct from the ground.
However, wooden greenhouses usually require more maintenance. Greenhouse frames made of softwoods such as pine are vulnerable to rot even if the timber has been treated (check to see if greenhouses of this type come with a guarantee against rot). Greenhouses made using teak or cedar are more durable as their own oils naturally protect them and they can be left to weather naturally, however these greenhouse are usually more expensive then softwood greenhouses. Wooden greenhouse frames are usually bulkier than aluminium greenhouse frames therefore they can cast more shade inside the greenhouse.
On the plus side wooden greenhouses are particularly strong making them an excellent choice in exposed or elevated areas, with their weight adding to their strength and durability.
Plastic resin frames are a newer development for greenhouses. They have become a popular choice of greenhouse as they are often more attractive than an aluminium greenhouse and are often less expensive than an aluminium or wooden framed greenhouse of the same size.
As plastic glazed greenhouses have become more popular (due to the fact they are ideal for use in gardens where children have access) manufacturers looked for the best frames to hold this glazing securely in place – producing a plastic / resin frame often proved to be the best way to retain glazing and create a greenhouse with outstanding safety features.
Free Standing Greenhouses
There are basically four different shapes of greenhouse, the most common two shapes are an apex style greenhouse or lean-to greenhouse.
Apex greenhouses tend to have a door in the middle of one end, either a single or double door depending on the size of greenhouse. With greenhouses with single sliding door the door will slide open to the right.
You would normally create a path from the door down the centre of an apex greenhouse.
These apex greenhouses are usually available in a range of different widths and lengths so you are likely to find one to suit the space you have available and your budget.
Lean-to greenhouses are designed to be fixed to a wall or fence.
These lean to greenhouses tend to be cheaper to heat than a free standing apex greenhouse as the wall they are against acts as a heat sink, absorbing heat at hot times of day and slowly releasing the heat when temperature drops.
Lean-to greenhouses when built against a house wall do not normally have access directly into the house. However, you could have an entrance from the lean-to into your home but you need to bare in mind that building regulations require you to use safety glazing (toughened glass or polycarbonate) when access is directly from the house into the lean-to.
If your lean-to greenhouse is attached to a house wall this will make it easier for you to get mains electricity and a mains water supply into your greenhouse.
Hexagonal greenhouses are nice when space is limited and your greenhouse will be in full view of the house. These greenhouses appear more attractive than standard greenhouse shapes but it can prove difficult to get staging or shelving to fit inside them.
Before ordering a greenhouse of this type confirm that staging is available – some models come complete with staging which then makes them a practical space for raising plants.
More oddly shaped greenhouses (such as domed greenhouses) tend to be both more expensive than traditional greenhouses and can be more difficult to grow in, for example adequate greenhouse ventilation can often be difficult to achieve and even heat distribution can be hard with hot and cold spots forming.
Our blog posts are created from our personal knowledge, information gathered by speaking to other gardeners or manufacturers in the gardening industry, by reading gardening magazines and devouring information from books and the internet. We aim to be as accurate as we can, so if you find a mistake, please remember, we’re only human. if you have any queries you can contact us today!