Welcome to our guide to backyard greenhouses!
Do you have a green thumb but winter cuts your growing season short? Or perhaps you want to grow things that will not survive in your climate. Adding a greenhouse to your backyard or gardening space may be the answer to your problem.
A greenhouse creates a space where you can grow your favorite plants year round. The environment in the greenhouse is a warm and stable space where you can grow things that you may not have the opportunity to otherwise.
A greenhouse may be an outlet of your home, or attached to one of your outside walls for easy access. It may also be a freestanding building away from your home, out in the garden. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
An attached greenhouse uses your home as a weight bearing wall, so the walls on the greenhouse don’t need to hold the weight of the structure. These are often the least expensive of the options. The one downside is that sunlight will be limited in the greenhouse, given that there will only be three greenhouse walls instead of four.
Freestanding greenhouses are good because they can go anywhere on the property you can fit them, and have the potential for four sides of sunlight if placed in the right location. They tend to cost a bit more than the attached versions of greenhouses, to build as well as to maintain.
- Year round gardening – For someone that loves to garden vegetables, the winter can be a real downer. Depending on where you live, the winter season can cut your growing time by months. With a greenhouse, you can reclaim that time from Jack Frost and keep yourself stocked up on those home grown veggies.
- Exotic gardening – In a greenhouse, with an extended growing season, you have the ability to grow plants that are not native to your area. This is an exciting prospect for any veggie or flower lover.
- Pest control – A greenhouse is a controlled and enclosed environment. Because of its controlled nature, there are less insects and other animals that can get to your plants. This means a limited need for other measures of pest prevention.
- Building cost – A greenhouse can be an expensive endeavor. There are cheaper options, but a sizable and quality option will take a bit of investment.
- Heating cost – Not only is it a significant cost to build a greenhouse, but you also need to be able to heat the space. Depending on how cold your winters are, this can be quite costly.
- Maintenance and care – Greenhouses need continued care and maintenance. Without ongoing attention, your greenhouse may begin to deteriorate; and if problems in the house are not addressed swiftly, they can get out of hand.
- Appeal – Greenhouses can obscure the view of your lovely plants. If you are growing flowers, not many people will be able to see them tucked away in the greenhouse. Some people may see the presence of a greenhouse as a detraction from the visual appeal of a garden.
Types of Greenhouse Materials
When building a greenhouse, think about your space. Often times, after building a greenhouse, one may find that they want or require more space inside than they thought. At that point, it can be quite a project to teardown and rebuild.
One major consideration when building a greenhouse is what you are going to use as glazing. Glazing is the covering and exterior of your greenhouse that still allows in sunlight. The best, and most expensive, option for glazing on a greenhouse is glass. Glass is the classic material and is all around the best contender.
Another glazing option is plastic sheeting. Plastic is the least expensive option, but is also the least durable. It does not stand up to time or the elements like a glass glazing option.
A third option is polycarbonate. This is a middle range price option. Polycarbonate is far more durable than plastic sheeting, and is pretty decent at retaining heat. It is a very viable alternative to glass if glass is out of your price range. (Source: Planetnatural)
The other component of your greenhouse is the frame. There are several things you can build your frame from. The three most common materials are aluminium, galvanized steel and wood. Wood is the most classic building material and is reliable. Aluminum is lightweight and waterproof which can be an advantage for a greenhouse.
Galvanized steel is also lightweight, but far more durable than aluminum, so your frame will be strong with this option. Steel can withstand weights up to 100 pounds, and does not rust. It is wind resistant and will make sure that your greenhouse stands in a variety of environmental conditions. (Source: HGTV)
Want to see more ideas? Check out our definitive list of awesome backyard ideas!
Cost of Backyard Greenhouses
The most affordable and simple option for building a greenhouse is a greenhouse kit. These kinds of greenhouses are simple and easy to construct. You can find models of smaller greenhouse kits for anywhere between $500 and $2,500. These smaller kits typically have a simple metal frame, and plastic or polycarbonate panels.
More expensive, durable, and elaborate kits range from $3,000 to $15,000. These more expensive models often come with additional features, such as a misting system or shade covers.
Attached models can range from $200 for a small and simple model, to $10,000 for the larger, more involved walk-in styles.
If you are looking for something more personal you can opt for a custom built greenhouse. When going for a custom built greenhouse, you are likely going to want it to be a strong structure, with plumbing, heating, and electricity. For a custom built greenhouse, you can expect to spend between $10,000 and $20,000 for a small structure, while the larger and more involved greenhouses can range from $25,000 to $50,000. (Source: Costhelper)
This is a small freestanding greenhouse without its own foundation. This would be a good greenhouse for a small garden, or if you had only a few plants that you wanted to grow. It does not take up much space, but is sturdy and gets the job done.
Here is an attached greenhouse with a foundation and glass for its glazing. This greenhouse is large enough to have some seating. It’s a perfect year round escape into a lovely verdant garden.
This is a small freestanding greenhouse on a stone stab out in the yard. This is a perfect small greenhouse for additional gardening, and extending the grow season of a few select plants. Source: Stephen Shellard / Flickr
Here we see an ornate and decorative take on the greenhouse. There is no need for a greenhouse to fit into a mold. This greenhouse shows us that you can also add some personal touches to your utility buildings. Source: Zillow Digs™
This greenhouse has a sturdy foundation, strong construction, and durable glass glazing. This greenhouse was built to last the ages, and keep the plants going for as long as possible.
Here is a simple greenhouse with a double door. This greenhouse is a great place to start the growing season early and get those flowers blooming as soon as possible. Learn more here.
Here is a simple single door greenhouse. This greenhouse is small and great for personal use in a backyard or garden for the average gardener that just wants to extend their growing season. Learn more here.
This is a small but high quality greenhouse in the middle of a garden area. It has sliding doors, extra vents, and a loose stone base. The colored frame makes this greenhouse sleek and stylish. Source: Jeff Sandquist / Flickr
Here is a sizable greenhouse with large double doors. Due to the high ceiling, there is room in this greenhouse for hanging plants on in addition to the normal shelves of potted plants. Learn more here.
This freestanding greenhouse has a sturdy brick base and additional planters along the sides for even more growing opportunities.
A greenhouse does not need to be entirely covered in the glazing material. Here is a greenhouse with a more involved frame. With a design like this, the greenhouse can easily match with the other buildings on your property. Source: Zillow Digs™
This simple greenhouse is being used to hang vegetables on suspended lines. Tomatoes seem to be the crop of choice.
Here is a greenhouse in the midst of a bed of flowers. While it gives more space and time for growing the flowers, you cant really see what is growing inside. Not to worry, the plants that you get the early start on can easily be moved out to the flowerbed when the outside conditions become ideal. Learn more here.
This is a lovely high-end greenhouse with a strong foundation and sturdy construction. This greenhouse is surrounded by wonderful landscaping to make the building very appealing. Source: Zillow Digs™
This simple and personal greenhouse is surrounded with nice landscaping and a bench to relax on while you enjoy the fruits of your labor.
This greenhouse has an interesting and clever design, angled to make the most use of the space and to get the optimal amount of light to the plants that need it. Source: Zillow Digs™
This tall greenhouse is equipped with a misting system. This is perfect for evenly watering your plants with little effort.
This large greenhouse kit has double doors and plenty of space for all kinds of plants. This is a great option if you have a decent sized yard, but are not quite ready for a lasting structure. Learn more here.
This is a good example of an attached greenhouse with a sturdy brick base. In addition to the greenhouse there are planter boxes that provide even more space for growing.
Here is a simple greenhouse with a wooden frame and a bit of personal flair. This greenhouse is the perfect functional escape for a green thumb that just need to escape ti their plants for a little bit. Source: Zillow Digs™
This inside view of a roomy greenhouse shows how you can use the space in a larger greenhouse. The ceiling on this greenhouse high enough to even fit trees.
Here is a nice and spacious greenhouse from a kit. The dome design allows for hanging plants, planter plants, and a few shelves for potted plants. You can have a variety of plants in this setup. Learn more here.