Five Types of Backyard Greenhouses

The Eagle Peak backyard greenhouses series for home

Your low productivity garden farms might not offset supermarket produce transportation emissions

Growing your own produce reduces your carbon footprint because then you avoid buying fruits and vegetables that are non-local and require transportation from afar. Whether that’s to your home directly or to a local super market, the transportation incurs a big carbon emissions cost. If your garden has poor productivity on the other hand, you’re in no better position because of the energy and materials you spent on the effort. After all, all the equipment you buy, and the water you use, all incur energy costs which translate into carbon emissions. Therefore, consider increasing the productivity of your produce with a backyard greenhouse. Here we consider the best types of backyard greenhouses that will preserve your tender garden plants/crops from harsh weather conditions.

Use backyard greenhouses to make the garden farm productive

Backyard greenhouses are the way to go if you’d like to have a better control at creating a favorable climate for your garden plants to grow without any hindrances all year round.

Meanwhile, there are many backyard greenhouses ideas to choose from.

It can also be confusing to choose the best greenhouse as some are more efficient than others.

Here is a guide on the five best types of backyard greenhouses which contain all the information to help you choose the best one for your gardening needs.

But before we get into that, here are some important considerations when choosing a backyard greenhouse.

Choices: pre-made greenhouse vs DIY backyard greenhouses

Whether you’ve decided to buy a factory-made backyard greenhouse or you’re a DIY enthusiast and would like to build one from scratch, there are a few questions you should ask yourself in other to get the best.

Positioning: southern exposure is better than northern exposure

You need to consider the space in your backyard where you’d like to place your greenhouse. First, you need to ensure that the space is large enough to accommodate your greenhouse.

The location also needs to be a suitable environment for greenhouse farming. Greenhouses need to be placed strategically so the plants in the greenhouse can have the right conditions to grow. Experts suggest the southern exposure as an excellent location and northern exposure as the least favorable for greenhouses. Hence, you should place your backyard greenhouse in a south-facing position.

Doing this will ensure that your greenhouse is protected from direct sunlight, especially during the summer. Likewise, it will also ensure that you plant gets direct access to light during the winter season. All of these are environmental factors that can affect how well or poorly your greenhouse plants/crops will grow.

Account for leg room and future expansion when planning for size

The greenhouse size should give enough room for the plants/crops to grow.

There’s no one-size-fits-all rule regarding the ideal size for a greenhouse. It all depends on factors like individual preferences, available space, budget, etc.

However, there are a few best practices when deciding what size your greenhouse should be.

Firstly, ensure that the greenhouse is large enough to offer sufficient leg room once your pot plants/crops are in place. Likewise, the arrangement should allow you to easily reach the plants when needed.

More importantly, it should allow for expansion in case you want to increase your plant collection.

Define and plan your garden’s purpose ahead: carbon reduction, health, commercial

You also need to consider gardening needs by asking yourself a few important questions. Are you setting up a greenhouse to cater to your family’s organic food & veggies needs or for commercial purposes? Perhaps, you want to enjoy the thrill of planting and seeing your favorite plant collections grow. Do you wish to grow a specific type of crop or flower that can’t grow under the weather conditions in your environment?

Ideally, your gardening needs would determine the size, structure, and materials used for your backyard greenhouse.

Consider automated watering for consistency

You also need to think of how you plan to water your plants/crops inside your greenhouse. You could use a manual watering system where you water your plants and crops daily using a hose.

Alternatively, you could set up an automatic watering system inside your greenhouse garden. Whatever you decide, it’s a good thing to set up your greenhouse in a location with easy access to clean water. Here is an example of a timed, automatic, drip irrigation system. All these attributes means convenience, and good water conservations.

Cold winter locations require heating systems

Your greenhouse garden plants will also need an ideal temperature to thrive in winter and summer. In the winter, the temperature in the greenhouse needs to be warm enough for the plants.

Likewise, in the summer, you’ll need to reduce the impact of sunlight on the plants. For these, you’ll need to set up a heating and cooling in your backyard greenhouse as well.

It’s also wise to include a thermometer to help you calculate and regulate the temperature in your greenhouse.

Pro Tip: Use natural ventilation and open roof greenhouses for efficient cooling.

Scale of production impacts the size: selling your produce vs. consuming at home

There are various style of greenhouses to choose from. However, each style has its pros and cons.

Some are best suited for large or commercialized organic farm needs while some are best for small scale farming. That said, your preferred greenhouse style should be based on your gardening needs.

Consider putting on a layer of glaze to diffuse light coming into backyard greenhouses

Glass is the default transparent material for the walls because of its aesthetics yet it does not diffuse light well enough for some plants. The materials used to construct the greenhouse garden can also affect the growth of the garden plants. Certain materials could enhance or prevent airflow to the crops.

Similarly, some materials are good for keeping the greenhouse warm for the plants during the winter.

Ultimately, you need to think of what’s best for the kind of plants you want to grow to decide on the best materials the greenhouse should have. A piece of greenhouse gauze, also known as greenhouse film, will change the quality of light inside. The gauze should diffuse the light, casting it more evenly over all the plants.

Greenhouse gauze or film will diffuse light inside to more plants

Check out city, state and country (federal) codes for building accessory structures

This may vary depending on location. If you stay in a rural area, you may not necessarily need a license or permit to erect a backyard greenhouse. However, some urban areas may require residents to secure permits from the local building department to install a backyard greenhouse.

It also depends on what type of greenhouse you intend to set up. A standard greenhouse is called “an accessory building” which local, state and federal ordinances cover. Call your city hall, tell them you’d like to construct an accessory building on your own property, and ask whether there’s paperwork you need to fill out, and documentation. The right terminology to use is to ask for the “state building code” which will be a publication.

Overall, do your research to find out what laws applies to your location before finalizing plans to install a backyard greenhouse.

Sketch out a budget roughly based on the above

Greenhouses vary in prices and the features they offer. So, you’ll need to weigh your options and decide on the price range you want to go for.

Types Of backyard greenhouses

There are different types of greenhouses based on structural design and materials used.

If you’re looking to get a greenhouse kit or build one yourself, here are five different types of backyard greenhouses ideas for you with different structures and materials.

You’ll also learn the upsides and downsides of each type.

1.   Freestanding/Standalone Backyard GreenHouses

As the name suggests, these are greenhouses that are not connected to other structures. Freestanding greenhouses are among the common greenhouses you’ll find.

There are many benefits to using freestanding greenhouses, but there are some downsides as well.

Perks

  • Freestanding greenhouses come in different styles and shapes.
  • Also, place freestanding greenhouses in a direction to maximize the impact of sunlight in a way that’s suitable for the plants.
  • It allows you to construct your greenhouse to your taste as a DIY enthusiast.
  • Finally, there’s no restriction on size. Your freestanding greenhouse can be as large as you like, depending on your preferences and gardening needs.

Downsides

  • The distance from the home could be a problem when setting up heating, cooling, and water systems. You may need to spend extra for connections and setups due to this.
  • Freestanding greenhouses are prone to heat loss from the sides and edges due to exposure. Nevertheless, they’re arguably, the best types of greenhouses due to the flexibility of use.

An excellent example of a freestanding greenhouse is the Monticello Greenhouse.

Monticello Greenhouse

This premium freestanding greenhouse is available on Amazon in different sizes.

See prices on Amazon here.

It’s composition is sturdy US-grade material to enhance its durability.

Likewise, its aluminum frames have reinforcement to withstand the impact of heavy snow during the winter season.

The glaze material is 8mm double sheet polycarbonate.

Its double sheet polycarbonate glazing will maximize insulation during winter and retain cool air during the summer.

It also features an automatic dual rain water gutter system and two 2ft x 2ft roof vents.

This Monticello greenhouse is expandable to up to 4ft should your gardening needs increase.

Then, it features hinged lockable doors to keep rodents and trespassers out of your greenhouse garden.

Finally, it’s easy to set up.

If you’d like to construct the Monticello freestanding greenhouse kit yourself, here’s a video tutorial to guide you.

2.   Attached/Lean-to Backyard Greenhouses

These types of greenhouses are attached to other structures.

For instance, a backyard greenhouse could be attached to a section of your home that leads to the backyard, giving you direct access to your greenhouse from within your home.

In addition, there are other reasons why some prefer attached greenhouses.

Perks

  • Other than the fact that you get to grow your favorite foods and flowers organically, a beautiful attached greenhouse garden complements your home.
  • Also, tending to your plants anytime will be convenient for you as you can easily access your garden from your home.
  • Finally, attached greenhouses are energy efficient. You can easily use your home’s heating system to insulate the greenhouse since they share the same wall instead of setting up a separate heating system.

Downsides

  • There’s a limit to the size and structure of your attached greenhouse. You’re limited by the available space in your home. Likewise, there may be no room to expand your greenhouse should your gardening needs increase.
  • The humidity of the greenhouse can cause mot to grow on your walls.

The good news is that there are ways around these minor drawbacks to fully enjoy the benefits of your attached greenhouse.

Below is an excellent example of a lean-to greenhouse kit.

Palram – Canopia Hybrid Lean-to Aluminum Frame Greenhouse Kit

This is perfect for small greenhouse gardens for food or decorative purposes.

This greenhouse kit comprises rust-resistant aluminum frames extending 7′-5″ from floor to the top and 4 mm double-layered polycarbonate glazing materials.

It is designed to provide adequate shade for your plants from intense sun and harmful UV light rays that could cause plant burns, thanks to its adjustable polycarbonate roof panel that blocks 99.9% of UV rays and sunlight.

The polycarbonate side panels ensure that 90% light transmission gets to your plants inside the greenhouse.

It’s sturdy for the outdoors as it can withstand winds of up to 47 mph and snow loads of up to 15.4 lbs. per sq. ft.

Finally, the kit consists of rain gutters, a lockable hinged door with a magnetic latch, and a galvanized steel base.

You can get this attached greenhouse kit on Amazon here.

3.   Ridge And Furrow/ A-Frame Greenhouse Structure

This is a peculiar type of greenhouse structure.

A standard ridge and furrow greenhouse consists of multiple even arched or curved frames combined to form one large greenhouse.

The walls in-between each frame can be removed to expand the growing space onto the next structure.

Likewise, the top frames are furrows that prevent rain and snow from being stored on the roof.

This type of greenhouse also has several unique benefits to offer.

Perks

  • Itoffers enough room for expansion.
  • The rooftop structure facilitates the direct capture of sun rays, giving the plants abundant sunlight to grow.

Downsides

  • It may attract high upfront and running costs, depending on the size of the garden house.

Below is a good example of a ridge and furrow greenhouse kit.

ShelterLogic 10′ x 20′ GrowIT Greenhouse Kit

This greenhouse kit comprises a 1-3/8” tubular high-grade steel frame coated with protective powder to prevent chipping, peeling, rust, and corrosion.

The steel frames feature the ShelterLock 3X steel stabilizers to make this kit stand firm under harsh weather conditions.

It also includes a clear, triple-layered, 5. 5 oz thick, ripstop fabric cover.

Thanks to the translucent nature of the fabric, your plants can get the sufficient illumination they need to grow.

The cover is waterproof and UV-treated in/out to protect your fragile plants from scorching sun rays.

Finally, the roll-up side panels and half moon screen vents ensure optimal airflow for your plants to grow.

You can get this greenhouse kit on Amazon here.

4.   Wooden Frame Greenhouse

This is a not-so-popular type of greenhouse.

Nonetheless, wooden frame greenhouses are the way to go if you want to give your garden a classical look.

More so, there are several benefits to enjoy when you use a wooden frame greenhouse.

Perks

  • Wood is an excellent insulator. Hence, wooden greenhouses are great for hot and dry climates.
  • Furthermore, wooden greenhouses have a longer lifespan, with some lasting decades, depending on the timber quality.
  • Finally, wooden greenhouses are sturdy and can withstand the harsh conditions of the outdoors.

Downsides

  • There’s the risk of rot if the frames are not made of quality timber.
  • Wood greenhouses need routine maintenance and checkup so they can last longer.

Regardless of these minimal downsides, wooden greenhouses are affordable options for small backyard greenhouses.

Below is a good example of wooden greenhouses.

Outsunny Wooden Cold Frame Greenhouse Small Mini Planter Box

This greenhouse is made of Fir, while the covering is a transparent Polycarbonate sheet.

On the interior, you’ll find two customizable shelves to fit your gardening needs.

If you need to grow taller plants, you can remove the shelves to give room for your plants to grow and fix them back on when your gardening needs changes.

It also has an opening vent at the top secured by durable hinges for adequate ventilation.

Then, it has two doors that can be locked to keep rodents and small animals away from your plants and open when you need proper ventilation.

Lastly, it has a sturdy and durable design.

You can get this mini wooden greenhouse via this link on Amazon.

5.   Aluminum Greenhouse

Aluminum materials are known for their lightweight yet strong and durable texture, making them perfect frames for greenhouses.

In addition to that, they’re beneficial in several ways.

Perks

  • Aluminum frames are rot-resistant, meaning your greenhouse gets to last longer.
  • Furthermore, they’re easy to maintain.
  • Lastly, they have great aesthetic value that beautifies your home.

Downsides

  • Aluminum materials lack proper insulation qualities. As such, they cannot retain heat nor resist cold.
  • They’re relatively more expensive than other greenhouse types.

Below is an example of an aluminum frame greenhouse.

Palram – Canopia Chalet 12′ x 10′ Greenhouse

This greenhouse kit is designed with rust-resistant aluminum frames, and clear Polycarbonate covering that delivers over 90% light transmission to your plants.

It also features 4mm double-layered durable roof panels that prevent up to 99.9% of UV light rays from hitting your plants.

It’s a large greenhouse measuring 95 sq. ft., giving your plants enough room to grow.

You’ll also have sufficient head and legroom to move about.

Lastly, this greenhouse is furnished with a galvanized steel base and two lockable wide double doors secured by durable hinges.

Follow this link to get this greenhouse kit on Amazon.

Conclusion

Greenhouse farming can be both rewarding and fulfilling, whether you’re farming for commercial purposes or as a hobby.

Firstly, it maximizes fruits and veggies plantation, allowing farmers to profit from their farm produce all year round.

Also, it allows regular individuals to grow their food organically and live healthier lives.

Furthermore, greenhouse gardening is a great activity for relieving stress and improving mental health.

On the downsides, however, greenhouses may be expensive to set up, require regular maintenance, and can be complicated to install/build.

Nonetheless, it’s a worthwhile investment if you’d love to be in control of the climatic conditions in which your crops/flowers grow.

Out of the five types of backyard greenhouses explained here, pick the one that best suits your interest and budget.

Anne Lauer
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Anna Lauer is a writer, gardener, and homesteader living in rural Wisconsin. She has written for Mother Earth News, Grit, and Hobby Farms magazines. Anna is writing a new book about growing your food for free and an ultimate guide to producing food at little to no cost. When shes not writing or gardening, Anna enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters.