When it is time to invest in a small backyard greenhouse kit the selection process begins! Your first consideration would be what type you want, here are some options:
A small portable model with racks you can use as a starter kit, to determine with you want a larger system.
A walk in model (locking door is optional), allows enough room for benches or growing racks on each side.
A plastic exterior, usually the polyethylene covering is approximately 2 – 6 millimeter thick + -.
A polycarbonate resin exterior panels, very durable and will last longer than plastic. Dome Greenhouse Kit shown to the right.
A glass exterior usually will be the most expensive, but usually the best, however it does not diffuse light so overheating can be an issue.
The type of frame: An aluminum, plastic (PVC type) or wood frame.
The size you want because there are several options, this may be determined by the space you have.
A small backyard greenhouse kit the selection process could include regulations. Depending where you reside there may be zoning laws or other requirements by your city or county government. Most cities will consider a greenhouse (especially small) the same as a storage shed so the same rules may apply, if you are not sure then do your due diligence first before making the purchase so you don’t end up having to remove it from your property.
Your greenhouse will be a lot like your closet when it comes to space, because no matter how large your closet is it always seems to get filled up.
The same will be true for your greenhouse space; because you will want to grow more the longer you use the house. Unless you have a dyed in wool plan that accounts for every square inch the bigger system is the better system.
Most kits are offered in a predetermined size so when in doubt opt for the larger one.
It goes without saying you will need lots of sunshine so make sure the greenhouse is positioned where it can get at least six to eight hours of continuous sun light per day.
You will need easy access to a water supply so it would be handy to have a hose bib that is close enough so you don’t have to hand carry water.
Another consideration is the access to electricity, even if you are going to have a small greenhouse it would be handy to have an electrical source for fans, lighting or heating if necessary.
Riga IIs 7.5 Ft. W x 7 Ft. D Polycarbonate Greenhouse
When you are dealing with a kit there are those dreaded words for some that read, “some assembly required” if you are handy with simple tools more than likely you will not have a problem as long as you can read and follow their directions.
Worst case scenario you may have to hire a handyman to do the assembly for you.
There is no doubt that the wood frame is appealing and will look good in almost any backyard setting, but there are some downsides. Wood over time (and depending on your climate) will warp, split and weather.
Aluminum frames are sturdy will not rust, rot, fade and are maintenance free for the most part, however not all aluminum is created equal, so the quality and the overall size of the frame (thickness & width) can be a huge determining factor when it comes to longevity.
Another system is called a hoop frame which is usually made of galvanized steel that is shaped in the form of a hoop, hence the name (think of a hula hoop cut in half). The frame is then covered with some type of plastic; the type is usually determined by the size and application of the greenhouse, whether it is a small hobby house or a commercial size growing system.
The plastic frame (much like PVC irrigation pipe) is the easiest to assemble it is lightweight and can also be taken down and stored or relocated should you need to move.
A final thought on the frame if you reside in an area where you get lots of snowfall make sure the frame you decide on can handle a snow load, it is heavier than you think!
The covering that you use on the outside of the greenhouse is referred to as the glazing and it can be some type of plastic or glass, when you are selecting a kit more than likely you will have one option or the other. Like shopping at the grocery store paper or plastic?
Choosing the right glazing is important because it will determine the success of your growing season and the longevity of your garden house.
Glass will last a long time and will require some cleaning, however if you reside in a climate that has frequent hail storms then you may want to consider a plastic or fiberglass option.
The thickness of the glass or plastic is important and it will usually be suited with the proper frame in a kit option however as the adage goes you get what you pay for. So the more you invest in your greenhouse the longer it will last.
Finally there is the Polycarbonate resin option, these type are often built off a porch or other structure and are relatively small, a great option for the hobbyist.
Regardless which option you choose over time there will be some maintenance required, glass panels or polycarbonate resin sections may need to be replaced and entire plastic glazing may need to be replaced, again depending on your climate and growing season.
A rule of thumb (it can be green but not mandatory) is that your shade cloth with 40-50% density is ideal for growing most common vegetables and flowers. The use of shade cloth will be relative to the time of year, as an example deep into summer at peak sunshine you may need a darker cloth, it is all dependent on the location of your greenhouse in relation to the sun.
An important consideration when you are selecting your system is the climate where you reside, because wind, hail and other harsh elements can cause severe damage to your system and possibly ruin your crops. The wind factor may determine what type of foundation you choose if you are going to have one at all. Let’s discuss that now.
There are a plethora of good and bad points about the type of foundation you choose if any; it is a choice you will have to make while considering your growing goals. Concrete is solid, easy to keep clean and you can anchor your greenhouse to it.
However it can be an added expense you do not want and it is permanent so you may what to consider how long you may be residing at your location.
Deciding not to have any foundation and rely on good old mother earth has advantages as well, any excess irrigation run off has a place to go and you can plant directly in the ground beneath your growing racks (if you have any). This option is cheap and easy but will be hard on your knees and back not to mention you will have limited control over the condition of the soil, so you may have to test it and amend it with nutrients.
Going with a wood foundation will require treated lumber a skill set and some basic carpentry tools, it is very important that your foundation is level and your lumber will not rot prematurely.
If you live in an extreme cold climate and want to operate your greenhouse system in the winter you will need to consider insulating the foundation the same way residential homes are insulated to guard against cold transfer coming through your foundation.
Early Bloomer 8 Ft. W x 8 Ft. D Polyethylene Greenhouse
The importance of ventilation cannot be stressed enough, it is extremely important that your system is properly vented. Many greenhouse kits will offer some type of vent system; this is one area where you do not want to go cheap. There are kits that offer an automatic vent system which is ideal for someone that is not able to be around the greenhouse all the time.
Before making your investment in your kit there are a few things you need to know up front.
As stated before we get what we pay for so make sure you read the warranty carefully because sometimes the various parts of the kit have different warranty periods, usually the longer the warranty the better the product.
What is included? Will you need to invest in other items to start growing or is it complete out of the box? That will have a lot to do with your goals, you may want to just grow out of pots to start and then expand into growing racks and more.
This is the fun part, after you have selected the right area where it will be assembled the next step is deciding how to use it and what other options you may want to consider.
Some of the additional add on items are (if not included):
Built in vents.
Some type of growing racks.
Now that it is up and ready for you to start growing you need to decide (if not done already) what it is that you can grow because the sky is the limit. You can start vegetable seedlings, flowers, trees or shrubs, the list is endless and you are only limited by your time and space.
So you are ordering a greenhouse kit or it just arrived so what can you grow in a greenhouse if you don’t have a green thumb or forefinger?
If you are new to greenhouse growing then it would be wise to start with the easy leafy greens, usually found in your salad.
An easy one to start with would be spinach, not only is it healthy for you it also requires very little space and growing it is not a huge challenge.
You can’t complete a salad without tomatoes, just be sure to check the type because there are huge differences, some tomato plants can take over your greenhouse universe.
What to spice up your recipes? Then add some pepper plants to your greenhouse list, fresh from the garden there is nothing better to add some zing to your favorite dishes.
Of course you can always turn to a favorite and that is the herbs, you can get silly with these plants because there are so many and they require a rather small footprint that is why you will often see them on window sills all over the country.
You get the idea, there are no rules if it requires light and water then you can probably grow it in your new greenhouse, it just depends on the size and your growing skills.
Some videos for tips & tricks.