Most gardeners consider whether or not to add a greenhouse to their backyard at some point. This is a common choice for all gardeners. Whether you want to add a few weeks to your growing season in the fall or be able to start your tropical species over winter, there is a greenhouse that is right for you. A greenhouse kit might be just what you are looking for.
Choosing the Best Greenhouse Kit
Cost and size are both primary considerations when shopping for a greenhouse kit. You must consider the space that you have available to dedicate to your greenhouse and the amount of money that you have available in your budget.
When choosing a size, remember that it is more expensive in the long run to realize that you didn’t plan for a big enough greenhouse and upgrade than it is to plan for the largest size that you think you may need.
What gardener can’t make use of extra growing space anyway? Why not plan for the largest greenhouse that your budget and available space can provide for?
Make sure that you leave room for adequate height. If your greenhouse is to be an addition onto your house, taller houses make extra heat available and this can be utilized as increased height, and increased growing area.
What is the primary function for your greenhouse? If you want to expand the growing season by a few weeks in the beginning and end of the season, then your options are greater because this type of greenhouse requires a very little amount of additional temperature manipulation. In cases where you don’t need electric heating to achieve your growing needs, any type of greenhouse will suffice.
Over-wintering is controlling the temperature so that plants not hardy in your zoned area can survive throughout the winter months. This does require a bit more care. If the climate in which you live will require a limited amount of heating in order for the plants of your choice to thrive throughout the winter then you can probably succeed with a somewhat inexpensive greenhouse kit.
If you expect to need to raise the temperature more than 30 degrees throughout any extended amount of time or if the temperature outside the greenhouse can be expected to go below zero degrees for any length of time, then you will probably want to choose a greenhouse kit with an insulated covering in order to conserve heat. In addition these models come equipped with tighter seals that retain the heat better.
In order for warmer climate plants to thrive, and not just survive the winter months, you will need to look into a greenhouse that will insulate and conserve the heat and be able to be heated efficiently. It will be worth the extra investment up front to purchase a better, more costly greenhouse.
If you would like a greenhouse suitable for growing plants and flowers year round, this will require the most costly investment to achieve acceptable results. Because of extreme heat conditions in the summer, it is necessary to purchase a greenhouse kit not only with heat retention and insulation abilities, but also with a ventilation system and cooling capabilities. Otherwise, during the summer months, the use of your greenhouse will be severely limited.
How elaborate do you want your greenhouse to be? For starting seedlings, wintering trimmings and other basic activities like that, a simple, inexpensive model will suffice. Consider a portable yet attractive model made of a combination of both glass and plastic.
Before installing any greenhouse be sure to check with local building codes. Most portable greenhouses do not require a permit but it is always best to check. Of course any elaborate or large greenhouse addition will require you to obtain a permit.
Location of Greenhouse
Consider the available sunlight. For seed starting and basic propagation the best choice for location is in partial shade to prevent over heating. A portable greenhouse will be more flexible because of your ability to move it around to catch differing light intensities. The accessibility of your greenhouse is another consideration. Is it convenient to enter through the door? Will severe weather limit your ability to enter and exit?
What materials will you choose? There are many choices of materials for your greenhouse covering. Glass, although attractive and permanent, has almost no insulation qualities and will not retain heat.
Plastics include fiberglass, polycarbonate panels and polyethylene film. These are varying in their heat insulation qualities. They are good for diffusing the light and can make a shadow-less greenhouse. They also seal up well and are an improvement over glass. They are easier to install than glass and may be done without professional installation.
Frames vary in material. Galvanized steel is somewhat heavy and requires more brackets and other hardware. Aluminum is very lightweight, comes in many colors and is the longest lasting of frame materials because it will not rot, rust or break down from UV exposure.
Wood is beautiful and natural, but it will start to deteriorate almost as soon as it is installed. Plastic frames are light weight and flexible. The biggest drawback to plastic frames for greenhouses is that they do break down when exposed to UV rays.
There are also many accessories available. There are misting systems, ventilators, heaters and under-pot heaters, grow lights and extra benches and shelving. One last comment is, you can always plan a greenhouse that is too small but rarely is one built to large.
Photo by Shugetsu, Creative Commons Attribution License