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Buying a Greenhouse

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Start growing your favorite flowers earlier in the season, extend the life of your vegetable garden past harvest time, or expand your existing potting shed with a greenhouse. Available in a variety of sizes and styles, a greenhouse can be a charming garden fixture with vintage-style glass panels, or it can be a compact addition for protecting a small vegetable garden. From commercial grower greenhouses to portable greenhouse racks, read on for more information on how to choose a greenhouse to suit your gardening needs. 

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Commercial Greenhouses

Commercial greenhouses, also known as grower greenhouses, are larger than the most typical consumer or hobby greenhouses. With heavy-duty construction, these greenhouses are relatively permanent, year-round outdoor fixtures that take more time for assembly. Because of these factors, commercial greenhouses generally start at a higher price point.

​Available in different sizes, commercial greenhouses are great for the dedicated gardener who likes the option of expanding and upgrading their greenhouse into a larger structure. 

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Hobby Greenhouses

The majority of greenhouses are considered starter or hobby greenhouses, ranging from smaller enclosed racks to large garden fixtures. Choose from a variety of price points, sizes, and features to fit all levels of gardening. 

Types of Greenhouses

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Cold Frames

Originally used as part of a greenhouse foundation, cold frame greenhouses extend the season for home gardens and vegetables. Cold frames, similar to hotbeds, are built into the ground with a glass or translucent top enclosure. They can be used to grow seedlings and are an ideal place to grow vegetables before and after the traditional vegetable seasons (later in autumn and earlier in spring). 

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​Mini Greenhouses and Growing Racks

For a small collection of plants, a mini greenhouse or rack provides a compact option. Instead of a sturdier structure with a foundation, mini greenhouses and racks feature a few shelves or racks with a polyethylene plastic enclosure.

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​Lean-To Greenhouses

Depending on wall space near your garden, a lean-to greenhouse can be a great choice. Lean-to greenhouses are constructed against an existing wall, which provides better heat retention and the final structure takes up less space. The initial installation takes more work because you will need to evaluate the specifications of your wall and what size and type of greenhouse will work best for your needs.

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Most greenhouse frames come in aluminum and steel, which provide a durable and long-lasting support structure. Steel is generally more affordable, however it is more likely to rust than an aluminum frame. Wood frames are usually used for cold frame greenhouses, which are on the ground close to the soil. ​For a temporary and affordable option, look at plastic or resin greenhouse frames.

Greenhouse panels come in different forms of plastic, which is the most common and affordable. Glass greenhouses offer a traditional look with maximum visibility and light filtration. Most panels come at the same thickness, however some come with thicker panel options for additional heat protection from the elements or with thinner panels for maximum light filtration. 

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  • Built-in vents are a key element for maintaining the optimum level of humidity inside the greenhouse. Look for built-in vents, or for smaller greenhouses, a wrap-up plastic panel.
  • Greenhouses that don't require foundations are typically smaller, starter options with just a few shelves or racks. This makes them easy to assemble and more portable.
  • Greenhouses with glass panels and heavier, more permanent greenhouses will require a foundation for maximum support. Lean-to greenhouses may also require a foundation so the weight is supported correctly against the wall. Most greenhouses that require a foundation will already come with one included that fits the frame for easy assembly. 

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