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Choosing a Greenhouse

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 22 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Greenhouses Octagonal Green Houses

If you have never bought a greenhouse before, you may find the process of looking for the right one a little bewildering. This is one item that is worth taking the time and spending money on. Inexpensive is not necessarily a sign of a good deal. The reason why some greenhouses are so cheap is because they have a low content of aluminium which makes them light and not always very sturdy. If you are serious about your green house then a large DIY store or garden centre may not be the best place for you to shop. Instead start out with a company that specialises in greenhouses, then you'll have the choice of the best quality and you know you will be dealing with professionals who are knowledgeable in the field.

Getting Started

When you go to the retail outlet you will need to have asked yourself the following questions to help you make an informed choice:
  • What size of greenhouse do you require?
  • Do you want a free standing or lean to greenhouse?
  • How much money have you budgeted for this greenhouse?
  • Is the site you are going to place the building exposed or secluded?
  • Will the greenhouse be a feature in the garden or will it be simply functional?
  • Do you need to consider safety glazing, because of small children, dogs etc..?

Greenhouse Shape

There are three main shapes for a garden greenhouse - traditional, octagonal and the lean-to greenhouse. They each offer a different combination of affordability, running costs, good light transmission and practicality.

Lean-To Greenhouses

There are three situations where is it may well be best to go for this type of greenhouse. They are:
  • If you have limited space. Having a lean-to greenhouse on the side of the house will take less space than a free-standing greenhouse.
  • If you want a greenhouse and a conservatory in one building. An area of a conservatory can be 'reserved' for greenhouse work and fitted out with benching. The living area of the lean-to greenhouse can also be used for decorative warm-loving plants.
  • A lean-to greenhouse on a south-facing wall will cost far less to heat in cold months than any free-standing greenhouse. The side of the house will absorb heat from the sun and radiate it back into the growing area. Some heat will also pass from the inside of the house into the greenhouse.

A Traditional Greenhouse

One advantage of the traditional shaped greenhouse is that there are far more sizes available than other types, they are generally cheaper to buy and they are available from a large number of suppliers.

Even with the traditional garden greenhouse shape, there are subtle variations and they generally arise in order to maximise light transmission in the winter and spring months. The point in maximising light transmission is to provide light to all parts of the greenhouse and not just the side facing the sun.

Octagonal Greenhouses

Octagonal greenhouses tend to be the most expensive shape, but they are an attractive feature in many gardens. In addition, their shape ensures there is always part of the greenhouse at any time which is at the ideal angle of 90 degrees to the sun. Another advantage (although at considerable cost) is that the circular benching which can be bought for them gives a large and convenient area for potting up plants and growing them on.

One possible disadvantage of an octagonal greenhouse is that ventilation during the hot summer months is difficult. There are always pockets of heat which develop because of the round shape. Lots of opening ventilation windows are required to ensure an even temperature during the summer.

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