7 Questions to Answer When Choosing Your First Greenhouse

One of the major decisions a home gardener makes is that of installing a greenhouse. Since this can be a major expense, it is vital to explore all the options available. After all, you will have to live with your decision for a long time! Use these 7 questions to decide on the best greenhouse for your purpose.

1. Is it the right type? Both lean-to and free standing greenhouses have advantages and drawbacks. Free standing types allow the best light transmission and ventilation. You may have to choose this type if you have no available wall space, and bringing in electrical and water connections will take more work. Lean-to types avoid these problems, and the wall they are built on will trap heat, an advantage in winter. However in summer, ventilation and heat build up can be difficult.

2. Is it right for the uses I have in mind? If you're planning to concentrate on tall plants like tomatoes and cucumbers, then you will want a greenhouse with tall sides and top to bottom glass. If you are planning to use it in winter, then sloping sides will be warmer when the sun is low. Partly insulated solid sides will also reduce fuel costs.

3. Is it the right size? You do not want a greenhouse with too much space for you to fill or one that is too small. Think about what you want it to do for you, and how much space that will take, and then go one size larger. If you are tall, is it tall enough for you to work comfortably? Is there sufficient room for benches? If you want to put in a border bed, can you wheel in the wheelbarrow?

4. Do I like the appearance? Appearance can be important, especially if your greenhouse is located in a small yard. Wood has a more traditional appeal than aluminum, and domed roofs may appeal to you more than a standard one. Remember, you have to live with it as a part of the permanent garden fixtures.

5. Is it soundly made? A low priced model will not be top quality construction. Do the ventilators and door open and close properly? Is the ridge bar strong and steady? Is the glazing properly installed and weatherproofed?

6. What essentials are included in the price? Make sure you understand what is optional and extra, and what is included in the price. Benches, automatic opening ventilators and the best type of glazing may not be included, and can cost extra. What about delivery and charges for erection of the greenhouse?

7. Can I afford it? In general, you get what you pay for. Bargain offers should be scrutinized carefully. If money is no object, then maybe you want to consider double glazed panels and hardwood framing. The most economical choice is probably an aluminum framed house with glass, purchased from a reputable supplier. False economy of thin plastic will reduce the initial price but cost more in heating.