It’s magical the way that plants can take sunlight and water and turn it into fruits, seeds, leaves and startlingly beautiful flowers. Gardeners do what they can to work with the environment where they’re growing, but sometimes the climate is simply too harsh, the sun is too bright or the geology is unsuitable for success with our favorite plants. This is where one of the most powerful and underutilized tools in the garden arsenal—the greenhouse—comes in.
Like a potato fork, rototiller or tractor, a greenhouse is more than the sum of its parts. It’s more than a thin frame wrapped in a protective coating—it’s a climate controlled environment that can be manipulated precisely by those who understand how to use it. A highly skilled greenhouse operator can take their little protected bubble and create any sort of environment they may need for the plants they want to grow most, including vegetables in the dead of winter, cactus in a boggy area or even tropicals in the arctic.
Before you become a greenhouse guru, you’ve got to learn the basics, though. Whether you’re beginning your journey or you’re looking to expand your knowledge, you’ve come to the right place. We may not know much about gnomes, but we’ve got this greenhouse thing down to a tee. That’s why we designed this greenhouse guide—to share our knowledge with you so you can get the most out of your greenhouse, no matter what style or size.
Our greenhouse guide is divided into several sections to help you find exactly what you need quickly:
Section 1: Types of Greenhouse Structures is an in-depth guide to the different shapes and forms of greenhouses, from basic cold frames and window greenhouses to gothic arches, a-frames and post and rafter greenhouses. If you’re not sure which style is best for you, read this section and we’ll walk you through the basics of each design and let you in on the pros and cons of each model.
Section 2: Greenhouses by Usage explains just a few of the many options you have for configuring your greenhouse, depending on what you want to grow. We’ve made a list of what you’re going to need to succeed with all of your greenhouse ventures. Whether you want a cool-weather Alpine greenhouse, a greenhouse for orchid growing or a tropical greenhouse, we can point you in the right direction.
Section 3: Greenhouse Covering Materials discusses the various materials used in common greenhouse structures. Glass, rigid fiberglass, plastic film and double-wall plastics are all excellent materials for greenhouses, but they aren’t interchangeable. Read this to find out what materials are best for your climate and budget.
Section 4: Greenhouse Location explains how the location and materials of your greenhouse can affect the quality of light available to the plants inside. By orienting your greenhouse properly, you can take advantage of the available sunlight, minimizing your need for supplemental lighting and heating. Conversely, if you’re planning for a cool greenhouse, you can be confident you’ve set your structure up in the shadiest, coolest location with our help.
Section 5: Heating Greenhouses will help you better understand how greenhouses lose heat and how you can combat those forces. We explain how greenhouse heaters work and how to pick the one that’s best for your greenhouse, no matter what kind of structure you’ve chosen. Is gas or electric a better option for your building? Read this section to learn more.
Section 6: Greenhouse Ventilation is all about one of the most important factors in greenhouse design. Without proper ventilation, all your efforts at manipulating your greenhouse environment will be for nothing since you’ll have no way to get rid of excess heat or moisture. Whether natural or mechanical, proper ventilation keeps moisture-related diseases at a minimum and temperatures from climbing dangerously.
Section 7: Greenhouse Climate Control explores the finer points of the greenhouse environment. Light, temperature and humidity are the biggest factors influencing how well your greenhouse plants will grow, but do you know how to properly regulate each or how they work together in the environment? If you don’t, check out this page where we explain these vital climate considerations.
Section 8: Freestanding Greenhouses Versus Attached Greenhouses may finally help you decide which type of greenhouse is best for you: freestanding or attached. We’ve compiled a list of pros and cons for both types to help guide your decision, no matter where you live. Some growers swear by their attached greenhouses, others prefer their structures to be far away from their home. Find out why here.
Section 9: Glass Greenhouses Versus Plastic Greenhouses considers the pros and cons of each type of greenhouse. We’ll examine cost and maintenance factors, as well as look at how much energy each uses and loses. Get all the information you need to make the best decision for your greenhouse here.
Section 10: Greenhouse Supplies outlines exactly what you’re going to need to get your greenhouse up and growing. After all, a greenhouse is more than just a glass room—ventilation, lighting and climate control are important factors, too. Other items, like insulation and benches will increase your success with many types of greenhouses, though aren’t always necessary in them all. Don’t go greenhouse shopping without running down this list.
Let the Gnome show you the world of greenhouses in a way you’ve never seen them before. Our experience can help you choose the right structure the first time or troubleshoot the greenhouse you already have.
No matter what stage your greenhouse is at or what type of greenhouse you’re running, we’ve got information you can use to improve your operation without all the messy guesswork many greenhouse operators experience.
After all, if plants are magic, doesn’t that mean that your greenhouse should be filled with wonder?