A Greenhouse for Every Garden

By National Gardening Association Editors

Imagine it's a brisk, sunny, early spring day, and you are in your greenhouse potting up plants and sowing seeds. The sunlight is streaming in, warming the air around you. Outside, there's a chilly wind but who cares? You and your plants are toasty warm.

While it's possible to start seeds and grow plants indoors, a greenhouse makes the process so much easier. Like other modern conveniences -- food processors, riding mowers -- a greenhouse turns a task into something downright fun! Some gardeners start their seeds in the basement under fluorescent light tables. But who wants to be in the basement (and pay for electricity) when the sun is shining?

Choosing a Greenhouse

Your greenhouse can be as simple as a portable, pop-up model with fabric or plastic walls, or as sophisticated as a year-round, permanent greenhouse with insulated glazing. Here are some things to consider.

Size. When it comes to greenhouses, bigger isn't necessarily better. Think about how you plan to use the space. Is it simply for starting a few dozen plants? Hardening off seedlings? Or do you hope to grow plants in it year-round? If it's the latter, remember that the larger the greenhouse, the more it will cost to keep it warm during cold weather. On the other hand, a larger greenhouse can be a pleasant place to spend time during the winter.

Permanent or portable? An attractive, permanent greenhouse structure strategically located can be an asset to your back yard. Landscape designers are always talking about "garden rooms" -- areas of the yard landscaped to invite people to spend time there. A permanent greenhouse will be a true garden room! A portable greenhouse, on the other hand, allows you to move the structure out of the way when it's not in use.

What to look for in any greenhouse:

  • Vents. There should be a way to vent the greenhouse, preferably near the top, to let excessive heat escape.
  • Anchors. Portable greenhouses should include sturdy anchors to hold the structure in place during windy weather.
  • UV resistant exterior. Exposure to sunlight will break down many types of plastics. Look for greenhouses with wall and ceiling material described as UV resistant; these will far outlast regular plastic sheeting.

Whether you want to start a few seeds or maintain a prized tropical plant collection year-round, there's a greenhouse that's right for you.

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