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How do I Choose the Best Greenhouse Design?

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  • Written By: T. L. Childree
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2016
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Several factors must be considered when choosing the best greenhouse design. The size and amount of plants you will be growing as well as the climate will help narrow down your choices. Another factor to consider is the amount of free yard space available for a greenhouse. You will also need to decide whether you intend to use a portable or permanent structure in order to choose the best greenhouse design. Then determine if an attached greenhouse will suit your needs or if a stand-alone structure is required.

The best greenhouse design is often determined by the type of plants the structure will be used for. A few short plants may only require a small portable unit to keep them safe from the elements. A limited amount of tall, delicate vegetation may only need a modest structure for protection. Large amounts of seedlings in growing beds will usually need a full sized greenhouse with a climate control, irrigation, and lighting system. If you live in a mild climate, a portable greenhouse may be all that is required to protect plants from occasional frost or freezes.

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You will also need to determine how much space is available for a greenhouse and where you intend to place it. If you have a sizable yard, you may want to construct a larger greenhouse than you need to eliminate the need for future expansion. Very small yards may restrict the greenhouse design to a simple lean-to structure attached to one wall of the house. A yard covered by a canopy of trees may require a greenhouse design that can be equipped with supplemental lighting. Open sunny yards will probably need a structure with some type of shading material.

The next step in choosing the best greenhouse design is to determine how often you will use the building. Seasonal gardeners may be able to manage with a temporary structure that can be dismantled and put away for most of the year. This design will usually free-up valuable yard space during the spring and summer months. If you intend to use the greenhouse for year-round gardening a permanent structure will probably be the best choice. Some permanent greenhouses are also designed as an enclosed gazebo to make better use of yard space.

Greenhouses are primarily used to protect tender plants from frost, wind, drought, and temperature extremes. A greenhouse must have some form of irrigation and climate control to meet these needs. Before choosing a greenhouse design, consider how you will provide adequate climate control for a free-standing structure. If water and electricity cannot be easily provided, you may want to choose an attached design to make use of your home’s utilities. A porch or patio can usually be converted to a greenhouse with only minimal construction and can also serve as a type of sunroom.

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