Welcome to our complete guide to backyard greenhouses!
Do you a gardener or 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 naturally. Adding a hobby greenhouse to your backyard or gardening space may be the answer to this problem.
A backyard greenhouse creates a space where you can grow your favorite plants year round. The environment in a backyard greenhouse is a warm and stable space where you can grow things that you may not have the opportunity to do outside the greenhouse.
A backyard greenhouse may be an outlet of your home, or attached to one of the outside walls of your house for easy access. A greenhouse may also be a freestanding building away from your home, out in the garden or backyard. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options.
An attached greenhouse uses your home as a weight bearing wall, so the walls on the greenhouse don’t need to hold all of the weight of the structure. These are often the least expensive of the backyard greenhouse options.
The one downside to an attached greenhouse is that sunlight will be limited within the greenhouse, given that there will only be three glass greenhouse walls instead of four.
Freestanding greenhouses are an excellent option for a greenhouse structure because they can be built and placed anywhere on the property that can fit them.
These greenhouses can potentially provide four sides for sunlight to access the growing space inside if placed in the right location. Freestanding greenhouses tend to cost a bit more to build than the attached versions of greenhouses do, to build as well as to maintain.
Pros to a Backyard Greenhouse:
- Year round gardening – For someone that loves to garden vegetables, the winter can be a real challenge and lost opportunity. Depending on where you live, the winter season can cut your plant growing time by months. With greenhouse gardening, you can reclaim those lost months from Jack Frost and keep yourself stocked up on home grown vegetables and fresh, fragrant flowers.
- Exotic gardening – Within a greenhouse, there is an extended growing season. So, you have the ability to grow plants that are not native to your area when greenhouse gardening. This is an exciting prospect for any plant – whether vegetable, fruit, 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 inside a backyard greenhouse. This means a limited need for measures of pest prevention, which is good for the plants and for the environment as a whole.
Cons to a Backyard Greenhouse:
- Building cost – A greenhouse structure can be an expensive endeavor to build and to maintain. There are cheaper options, but a sizable and quality greenhouse option will take a bit of investment.
- Heating cost – Not only is it a significant cost to build a backyard greenhouse, 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 maintenance and attention. Without ongoing maintenance, your backyard greenhouse may begin to deteriorate. If problems in the greenhouse structure are not addressed swiftly, they can get out of hand, which will ultimately cost you more.
- Appeal – Outdoor greenhouses can obscure the view of the lovely plants inside and outside them. 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 backyard garden.
Types of Backyard Greenhouse Materials
When building a backyard greenhouse, think about the space you have available for it. Often times, after building a backyard greenhouse, one may find that they want or require more space inside it than they previously thought. It can be quite a project to tear down and rebuild a greenhouse.
One major consideration to keep in mind when building a greenhouse is the material you plan to use as glazing. Glazing is the greenhouse covering and exterior, which allows in the sun’s rays. The best, and most expensive, option for glazing on a greenhouse is glass. Glass is the classic material and is all around the best greenhouse glazing contender.
Another glazing option is plastic sheeting. Plastic is the least expensive option of the backyard greenhouse glazing materials, but is also the least durable of them. Plastic sheeting does not stand up to the passage of time or the elements the way a glass glazing option does.
A third option is polycarbonate panels, a middle range price option for greenhouse glazing. Polycarbonate is far more durable than plastic sheeting, and is decent at retaining heat. It is a viable alternative to glass, if glass is out of your price range (Source: Planetnatural).
The other component of your greenhouse to keep in mind is the greenhouse frame. There are several things you can build a greenhouse frame from. The three most common materials for greenhouse framing are aluminum, galvanized steel, and wood.
Wood is a classic building material, likely due to its availability and reliability. Aluminum is lightweight and waterproof, which can be an advantage for an outdoor structure like a greenhouse.
Galvanized steel is also lightweight but is far more durable than aluminum, so your greenhouse frame will be stable and strong using this option. Steel can withstand weights up to 100 pounds, and does not rust. It is wind resistant and will ensure that your greenhouse stands though it stands through 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 structure is a backyard greenhouse kit. These kinds of greenhouses are simple and easy to construct.
You can find models of smaller backyard greenhouse kits that cost anywhere between $500 and $2,500. These smaller backyard greenhouse kits typically have a simple metal frame and plastic or polycarbonate panels.
More expensive, durable, and elaborate kits can range from $3,000 to $15,000. These more expensive backyard greenhouse kit models often come with additional features, such as a misting system or shade covers.
Attached greenhouse models can range from $200 for a small and simple model, to $10,000 for the larger, more involved walk-in style attached greenhouses. If you are looking for something more personal, you can opt for a custom built greenhouse.
When considering a custom built greenhouse, it should probably 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 greenhouse design, while the larger and more involved greenhouse designs 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 backyard garden, or if the gardener has very few plants to grow inside it. A small freestanding greenhouse does not take up much space, but is sturdy and can get its job done.
Here is an attached greenhouse with a foundation and glass for its glazing. This attached greenhouse is large enough to have some seating, making it a perfect year round escape into a lovely verdant garden.
This is a small freestanding greenhouse on a stone stab out in a backyard. This is a perfect small greenhouse for additional gardening, and extending the growing season of a few select plants. Source: Stephen Shellard / Flickr
Here we see an ornate and decorative take on the traditional greenhouse design. There is no need for a backyard greenhouse to fit into a mold! This greenhouse design shows us that you can also add some personal touches to your utility buildings. Source: Zillow Digs™
This backyard greenhouse has a sturdy foundation, strong construction, and durable glass glazing. It clearly was built to last the ages, and keep the plants inside alive and thriving for as long as possible.
Here is a simple greenhouse with a double door and opening roof panels, or roof vents. This greenhouse is an excellent place to begin the plant growing season early and get flowers blooming as soon as possible. Learn more here.
Here is a simple single door greenhouse. This backyard greenhouse is small, great for personal use in a backyard or garden for the average gardener who wants to extend their plant growing season. Learn more here.
This is a small but high quality greenhouse in the middle of a back garden area. This small greenhouse has sliding doors, extra roof vents, and a loose stone base. The colored frame makes this greenhouse appear sleek and stylish. Source: Jeff Sandquist / Flickr
This freestanding greenhouse has a sturdy brick base and additional raised garden beds along the sides for more growing opportunities.
A greenhouse does not need to be entirely covered in its glazing material, necessarily. Here is a greenhouse with a more involved frame. With a design like this, the greenhouse can easily match with the other structures 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 in this freestanding greenhouse.
Here is a greenhouse in the midst of a bed of flowers. While a backyard greenhouse allows more space and time for growing flowers, you can’t really see what is growing inside it. However, the plants that you get an early start on can easily be moved out to the flowerbed when outside conditions become ideal. Learn more here.
This a lovely high-end greenhouse has a strong foundation and sturdy construction. It is surrounded by wonderful landscaping to make the building appealing to the eye. Source: Zillow Digs™
This simple and personal greenhouse is surrounded by lovely landscaping and a garden bench to relax on while you enjoy the fruits of your labors.
This greenhouse design is both interesting and clever, angled to make the most use of the space where the greenhouse sits and to get the optimal amount of light to the plants inside that need it. Source: Zillow Digs™
This tall greenhouse is equipped with a misting system. A misting system is perfect for evenly watering plants with little human effort.
This large backyard greenhouse kit has double doors and plenty of space inside for all kinds of plants. A greenhouse like this is a great option for those with a decent sized yard, but are not quite useful for building a lasting structure. Learn more here.
Here is a good example of an attached greenhouse with a sturdy brick base. In addition to the greenhouse, outside raised garden beds sit to provide even more space for growing plants.
Here is a simple greenhouse with a wooden frame and a bit of personal flair in the greenhouse design. This greenhouse is the perfect functional escape for a gardener with a green thumb who just needs to escape to their plants for a little while. Source: Zillow Digs™
This inside view of a roomy greenhouse shows an option for using the space inside a larger greenhouse. The ceiling on this greenhouse high enough to even fit trees inside it.
Here is a nice and spacious greenhouse from a backyard greenhouse kit. The dome greenhouse design allows for hanging plants, planter plants, and a few shelves for potted plants to sit. You can have a variety of plants in a greenhouse structure like this one. Learn more here.