Greenhouse Styles: Lean-to, A-Frame, Gambrel, Gothic Arch, Span-Roof
Planning Your Greenhouse: Various Greenhouse Designs & Styles
The world inside a hobby greenhouses is special, exotic plants bloom, tropical fruits and fresh vegetables are ready to be harvested even in cooler months. In colder climates a greenhouse needs to be heated, insulated as well some supplemental lighting. Inside you're protected from the outside world, free to work the soil and tend to your plants oblivious to the weather outside. Grow species you've never grown before or try new gardening techniques like organic gardening. The rewards will be well worth the time and money spent.
The internet has some great gardening web sites, greenhouse builder's sites and there are scores of models to choose from. However there are many spammy websites that copy content and steal images from legitimate greenhouse manufacturers. That's you Bill Keene from buildingagreenhouse.com. Stealing images from Cedar Built, Sturdi Built and Santa Barbara Greenhouses and say they are the same as your greenhouse plans is misleading and a copyright infringement. Folks you can research and build your own using step-by-step plans, buy a kit (you still have to put it together) or have a contractor build one for you. Careful planning will ensure that your new greenhouse is suited to your needs. Select an appropriate site where there is plenty of sunlight, then determine what type of greenhouse kit you want; the size, style and covering. The following article will act as a guide to purchasing or building a hobby greenhouse. Our sponsored links may provide leads to a greenhouse dealers and suppliers in your area.
You must first assess your situation. What size fits my needs? Hobby greenhouse owners suggest making it larger than you anticipate using, because once you start gardening you'll probably want to expand. In many cases the size of your property will dictate the size of the structure. Is the purpose of the greenhouse to grow foliage house plants or to grow veggies and flowers. A warm greenhouse that permits maximum light isn't necessary for foliage house plants. If your like me and use the greenhouse for both take the sunny location and use shading (shade cloth or a large tree at mid-day will do). How elaborate of a structure do I need? If you simply want to start your garden early and are not worried about aesthetics you can use the hoop and plastic style. They are easy to assemble and portable, you can move the smaller structures to different parts of the garden as the need arises. Most folks nowadays want something that will look good in their backyards, perhaps complement their deck, gazebo or fence. These types of greenhouse would use a polycarbonate or acrylic covering and cedar or redwood for the framing and walls. More elaborate glass enclosed structures that have cement foundations, heating and electrical systems are very expensive and not a DIY project. Is a building permit necessary? Are there local design ordinances? Deciding where your going to locate your greenhouse is crucial. Unless it's a portable and built from a kit it's there to stay unless your willing to go to a lot of expense and effort to move it. The first consideration is sunlight and it's critical to locate the greenhouse where it will get at least 6 - 8 hrs of direct sun each day. The preferred exposure is southern, then southeastern, southwestern, eastern, and western. A northern exposure is too shady for a greenhouse. An east-west facing greenhouse will get 25% more light than a north-south as it presents more surface to the sun at a right angle. Take note of any trees, fences or other obstacles that may shut off light for a major portion of daylight hrs. Drainage is another key consideration in selecting a site. Find a level spot, do not locate it in a depression that will act as a catch basin for rain and snow. Also avoid a boggy area where the soil is always wet. Access to water and electricity is important, the further away the more laborious it is to run the utility lines there. Consider too, the difficulty in walking to your greenhouse in inclement weather.
The style of the greenhouse you select depends on such factors as how permanent you want the structure to be, whether it will be free standing or attached to the house, and the type of snow loads in your area. The following are the major styles of greenhouse kits or plans that can be purchased: Attached, A-frame, Gothic Arch and the Span Roof (Sun Country Greenhouse). Manufacturers such as Cedar Built, Sturdi Built, Gothic Arch Greenhouses, Sunshine Garden House and B.C. Greenhouses use the following styles: click on image to see web page.
Lean-to or Attached: This type of greenhouse is an extension of the home. There is usually direct access to the house, water and electricity are easily extended to the structure. In northern climates, an attached greenhouse should not be located under a sloping roof because of icicles and snow slides.
A-Frame: Simple to construct, the A-frame can be built in sections on the ground and then raised into place and covered. Although the shape is ideal for heavy snow loads, it provides limited head room and is difficult to ventilate.
Gothic Arch: The gothic roof line is made from laminated strips over which a permanent covering is installed. Extremely decorative, it is a challenging project, because of the layout and lamination of the arches takes time. This style is a good choice for regions with lots of rain and snow as the curved sides keep precipitation from collecting.
Gambrel: Or barn shaped greenhouse. Erected in sections, this lightweight greenhouse can be covered with plastic, polycarbonate (Lexan), fiberglass or acrylic sheets. Designed to handle heavier snow loads and high winds.
Span Roof: This freestanding style probably has the most typical and usable shape of any greenhouse. The interior layout is extremely practical, and there is easy access for a loaded wheelbarrow through a door at either end. A variation of the span roof design is the gambrel roof (barn shaped) greenhouse however it's more difficult to build because of all the angles to cut. The Sun Country greenhouse is a span roof design see photos.
Some interesting greenhouse links:
Visit Greenhouse Kits for more information on our kits and shipping costs. We also have greenhouse building Plans for a freestanding cedar greenhouse that makes a great DIY project. Whether your're buying a greenhouse kit or building from a plan there are different frame Styles to chooose from. For specifications and how to apply, cut and clean panels visit Lexan Corrugated and our Lexan Thermoclear polycarbonate information pages. Besides being beautiful to look at we use Western Red Cedar for our greenhouse kits because of it's resistance to rot and insects. We have free eco friendly Solar greenhouse plans, simple Lean-to plans for a greenhouse that attaches to your home and Gambrel or barn shaped greenhouse plans. Read about lighting, ventilation, pests and diseases as well as free greenhouse potting bench plans at Gardening Tips. Our customer Photo Gallery and YouTube Videos round out our site.