Dome Greenhouses: More Than Just a Pretty Face

Dome greenhouses

Some gardeners prefer form over function in their greenhouses and will choose the beautiful options before the useful ones, even if it creates more work for them in the long run. Luckily, there’s a happy medium when it comes to greenhouses that work amazingly well and are also works of art. The dome greenhouse, when constructed with care, makes an incredible focal point in modern-style gardens.

Most people don’t think about geodesic dome designs when they start exploring their greenhouse options, but these structures are more than garden curiosities. When built properly, geodesic domes are neat structures that work extremely well for growing plants. Dome greenhouses offer growers these benefits:

Low cost – One of the most attractive features of a geodesic greenhouse is the low cost of materials. Because of the shape of these structures, minimal material is required to keep them standing upright, unlike a traditional greenhouse that needs multiple supports and detailed framing.

Efficient heating – If greenhouses have one fatal flaw, it’s the way they can seep warm air through seams and via conduction through covering materials to the outside world. A geodesic greenhouse has less surface area compared to structures of the same height, giving them fewer places where heat can escape. Because of their unique shape, it’s also considerably easier to circulate air through a dome greenhouse, with no dead spaces where heat or cold can get trapped.

Stability – Dome greenhouses are by far the strongest structures you can choose for your plants when compared to structures of the same size. Their shape sheds ice and snow instead of allowing it to build up and cause catastrophic collapse. Winds and storms are also no problem for a well-anchored geodesic structure for much the same reason. Unlike traditional structures, domes allow winds to pass over them harmlessly—in fact, they’re a popular choice for Antarctic research stations and have withstood winds above 200 miles per hour in these frigid locations.

Multiple light-catching angles – An incredible drawback of traditional greenhouses is how critical their placement is to maximizing heat and light transfer. This isn’t a problem with dome greenhouses, since they have so many angles across their surfaces—there are always panels at the perfect angle to the sun to keep the heat and light just right.

Portability – Traditional greenhouses are incredibly heavy, even when they’re built with the lightest materials possible—this is a function of how many pieces there are involved in the frames themselves. Even the heaviest dome greenhouse is still pretty portable and rarely requires a permanent foundation, meaning that you’ll be able to take your geodesic greenhouse wherever you go. You may also be able to throw your new dome greenhouse up without a building permit, since many municipalities will consider it a temporary structure regardless of your intentions.

Geodesic dome greenhouses are a really great solution for a lot of gardeners, but they aren’t for everybody. The round shape can make arranging benches and hanging lights more than a small challenge and their aesthetic isn’t always compatible with the gardens where they might be placed. Even so, if you’re looking for a modern design with lots of room and a small price tag, the dome greenhouse may be right for you.

Kristi Waterworth
image: cybergibbons via Compfight cc
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