Types of Greenhouse Kits
The number of choices when it comes to DIY greenhouse kits available on the market today is mind-boggling. To make an educated decision which one is the most suitable for our needs, we need to examine our needs first.
Assessing Our Greenhouse Needs
Before making a big decision like buying a greenhouse kit, we need to examine our reasons for having a greenhouse, the kind of plants we wish to grow, the space we have for the greenhouse, our climate, our skills in assembling the greenhouse kit, the amount of time we will have to devote to the greenhouse, and, of course, our budget.
The Size Greenhouse Needed
Greenhouse kits come in all sizes, from mini-greenhouses that are actually just covered raised beds, to commercial greenhouses that can cover acres of growing plants, to gorgeous Victorian glass conservatories. If we are beginners in greenhouse growing, or we have limited space in our backyard, we should start small. If space is not an object, and we suspect that we might want to grow as our skills grow, it is a good idea to buy the kind of greenhouse kit that can be extended later. Kits with PVC hoops and poly glazing are cheap and easy to install, but cannot be extended later. Greenhouses constructed of panels, whether glass or polycarbonate, are more difficult to install and more expensive, but much more durable and can be extended by adding to the frame and adding more panels.
The Climate Where We Build Our Greenhouse
Although all greenhouse kits are designed to provide controlled climatic conditions for our plants, not all are suitable for extreme climates. Greenhouses made of plastic or PVC frames become brittle if exposed to big temperature changes or extreme cold. Plastic is also too light for areas with strong winds. Galvanized steel frames are durable and strong, but are expensive to ship. Wood-framed greenhouses are attractive and wood is an excellent material in cold climate, because wood retains heat during the day and releases it at night. But, wood frames are not suitable for wet and humid climates, as it can deteriorate and rot in too much humidity.
Glazing for your chosen greenhouse kit is another important consideration. Polyethylene film is cheap, and if doubled, provides excellent insulation. It is easy to install, but it does not last long. Polycarbonate is expensive, but is excellent for a hot climate as its double-layer construction increases heat retention. Glass is good insulator, but fragile and can crack in extreme cold.
Your Construction Skill Level
Some kits are extremely easy to assemble, but even for the simplest; Quonset type with PVC hoops and polyethylene covering, you will need help of at least one friend to hold pieces in place while you fasten them.
Most greenhouse kits that come with panels require not only help, but also a certain amount of building skill and experience to put together. In addition, the more complex the greenhouse kit, the stronger foundation you will need. Building a good foundation with drainage and support in mind also requires skill and experience.
Budget For Your Greenhouse
You might be tempted by affordable Quonset or a-frame greenhouse kits with poly covering, but keep in mind that once built, they cannot be extended. If your greenhouse needs, or passion, grows, you will need to buy a new, bigger kit. Keep in mind that the more expensive the material the kit is made of, the more durable your greenhouse is going to be. In addition, good quality glazing provides better insulation and heat retention, cutting on your expenses on cooling or heating the greenhouse. When budgeting for the greenhouse kit, keep in mind that you will also need benches, shelves, fans, misting and watering system, unless you want to spend hours twice a day watering your plants. Remember to budget for the utilities as well.
Once you examine your needs carefully and decide on your budget, have fun browsing the website of numerous greenhouse manufacturers and retailers (or check our store). Check some greenhouse growers’ forums and reviews, to see what other people say about their experience with various types of greenhouse kits. Keep an eye on sales and discounts. Once you have all facts at your fingertips, plunge in and order your DIY greenhouse kit. If you planned well, you will have many years of great fun growing and nursing plants in your greenhouse.