Currently, there are over 1.2 million acres of land globally, occupied by different types of greenhouses. Today we explore these structures, identifying each type, including features that make them different.
A greenhouse is a structure that comes in handy when you want to grow plants in a controlled environment. This environment enables faster and healthy growth of plants no matter the season.
As you contemplate getting one, it’s worth noting that different types of greenhouses are ideal for different purposes, plants, and situations.
For this reason, the type of greenhouse you choose will primarily depend on your specific needs. And, some will work better in some situations than others.
But how are these greenhouses classified? What makes each category unique, and how do you choose the right one for you? We will see all that in a bit.
Types of Greenhouses Available Today
One primary way to classify a greenhouse is by looking at its structural shape or style. Each structure has its pros and cons that are worth considering before you make a purchase.
You can also categorize different types of greenhouses based on the frame material and outer covering. Here are the different categories of greenhouses available in the market.
Greenhouse Categorization Based on Structural Shape/Style
There are different types of greenhouses, and one way to categorize them is through their structural shape. Under this category, you get:
1. Lean-To Greenhouse
When you place a greenhouse against a side of a building, it falls under this classification. You can use the wall as one side of the greenhouse or place it in between two buildings. This leaves you with three or two sides to cover with greenhouse sheeting material, plus the roof for a full enclosure.
Most Lean-to types of greenhouses don’t exceed 12ft and can only carry 1 or 2 rows of plants at a time. However, you can extend it against an even longer wall if need be while ensuring it gets ample sunlight.
- Near to amenities like electricity and water from the main building.
- Smaller structure incurring less cost on materials.
- Requires a small space to set up.
- Fewer support requirements for the roof.
- Provides a limited space for plants.
- Doesn’t have enough light exposure for proper plant growth.
- Hard to control the temperature because of the wall sides.
- Height limitation due to the supporting wall.
2. Ridge and Furrow Greenhouse
Another perfect example of structural types of greenhouses is the ridge and furrow that resembles an A-frame structure. The design involves connecting the A-frame structures in a neat row. Each row connects at the eave, which is where all the excess snow and rain drains off.
This particular design is popular in a large farm setting where you have numerous greenhouses and don’t want any damage from rain or snow. The connection of several greenhouses acts to add more growing area, as well as increase the area for more sunlight penetration.
Also, this helps save on cost and energy to care for plants from one greenhouse to the next.
- Leaves enough room inside the structure for plants.
- Saves on automation and energy.
- Ensures structure longevity by draining rain and snow from the roof.
- An appealing look.
- Expensive to set up.
- Requires a big piece of land.
Examples of Ridge and Furrow Greenhouse
You notice the distinct A-frame structure of this greenhouse that you can set up as a ridge and farrow. All you need is to place the sides of the greenhouse to each other and open the ends to create one large room.
The frame structure uses top quality aluminum that’s not only durable but resistant to corrosion.
Addionattly, the A-frame roof structure ensures there’s ample heat distribution to help all plants to grow.
Also, the greenhouse comes with 8 plant shelves, and you can set it up in under 5 hours following the guide provided.
3. Even Span Greenhouse
These types of greenhouses are easily identifiable by their two distinct sloping roofs. You can comfortably use this design to set up a small greenhouse in your backyard, depending on your measurements.
As you set it up, you can consider attaching one end to the house or letting it stand on its own in the garden. You can also make it as big as possible to fit more rows and shelves that carry plenty of plants. All areas have a transparent glass or other material, helping plants get ample sunlight.
However, heating such a wide area can cost more. You might need to set up a heating system to keep temperatures from plummeting during cold days and nights.
- Flexible design that won’t limit you in terms of size.
- Spacious for carrying many plants.
- An ideal shape that maintains uniformity in terms of temperature.
- A-frame roof that ensures rain/snow doesn’t accumulate.
- Expensive to set up.
- Requires own heating system.
4. Gothic Arch Greenhouses
Picture any gothic structure you’ve ever seen, and you’ll get a clear image of a Gothic arch greenhouse. It has that distinctly pointed roof that helps eliminate the need to include trusses on the structure. Such a structure is ideal for both hobby and commercial use since it can be as small or as big as you want.
All you need is to note your space and expenses to decide on the size you want. Also, consider Gothic arch greenhouse’s pros and cons before making a choice.
- Versatile in that it can be a big or small structure.
- Appealing to look at.
- It makes it easy for snow and rain to drain off.
- It doesn’t require trusses.
- It takes up more materials when compared to other types of greenhouses.
- It doesn’t facilitate ample air circulation to the corners.
5. Uneven Span Greenhouse
You’ll notice a distinctive feature when it comes to the uneven span greenhouse. One roof of this structure is longer than the other, hence the name. The primary reason for this structure’s design is to allow more sunlight intake when the structure is in a hilly area.
Normally, the longer side of the roof faces the south and must be transparent. Given that most greenhouses are now in flat areas, this type of greenhouse isn’t as common.
- It helps sunlight reach the plants.
- Keeps wind at bay.
- Sturdy and long-lasting structure.
- Not ideal for flat areas.
Greenhouse Categorization Based on Frame Material
Every greenhouse requires a sturdy frame structure to give you optimal service. Without the right materials, the frame gets weak with time and can easily fall over. So in this categorization, you have a chance to learn the best materials to use on different types of greenhouses.
6. Pipe Metal Frame Greenhouses
Many pipe framed greenhouse structures use heavy-duty metals like steel and aluminum. These metals are long-lasting, which means you can use the greenhouse for a long time.
Once you opt for the metal pipe frame structure, ensure you know what metal is used since some are prone to corrosion. Also, it’s wise to use durable metal if the greenhouse is for commercial purposes as this reduces the cost of replacing worn-out pipes.
- Uses durable metal material.
- Provides a sturdy structure that can withstand the elements.
- Even in high temperatures, metal frame structures are resistant to heat.
- Heavy-duty metal is expensive.
Examples of Pipe Metal Frame Greenhouses
The structure of this type of greenhouse has pipes made using heavy-duty steel alloy material. Not only is it sturdy, but it also prevents corrosion from making the structure weak.
It also has a top-quality PVC covering that guards against harmful UV while creating a conducive environment inside for growing plants.
In addition, it requires just a short time to set it up and move in your plants. Also, the mini greenhouse is suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
With 6 shelves and 3 tiers, you have another great quality greenhouse to set up inside or outside the house. The frame is made using alloy steel, which’s durable and won’t bend under the plants’ weight.
Still, the structure is easy to move from place to place and provides ample shelf space for potted plants.
See related: 14 Best Greenhouses to Buy – Reviews & Buying Guide.
7. Wooden Frame Greenhouses
Most types of cold weather greenhouses include wooden frame structures that help preserve the heat inside. Most of these are small setups in the backyard to store plants until springtime. Wood is readily available in many places and easy to work with, even without hiring a professional to set up the greenhouse.
- Thermal efficiency helps the greenhouse remain warm during cold winter months.
- Easy to build and make repairs.
- Wood is naturally attractive, especially when you have exposed grain.
- Timber frame is more environmentally friendly.
- Wood is expensive when not locally sourced.
- If not properly treated, it’s prone to insect attacks.
8. Plastic Greenhouses
Tough plastic can make a quality greenhouse, especially one to keep indoors away from direct wind. As you seek different types of cheap greenhouses, you might want to consider those made using plastic frames. Since the material is inexpensive, you won’t have to go out of budget when setting one up.
- Plastic greenhouses are affordable.
- Quality plastic creates a sturdy frame.
- They aren’t prone to damage like wood greenhouses.
- They’re easy to clean.
- Plastic frames aren’t ideal for large structures.
Greenhouse Categorization Based on Material Coverage
Various materials are used to cover different types of greenhouses. This determines what types of greenhouses are used in certain locations. And depending on your location, here are some materials to choose from.
9. PVC or Polyester Plastic Greenhouse Material
One of the most popular materials to cover a greenhouse is PVC plastic. It’s transparent, which is essential to allow sunlight to reach the plants. Also, it saves you money in terms of cost and heating of the greenhouse.
- Readily available.
- Allows ample sunlight penetration.
- It’s cheap.
- It’s lightweight and easy to set up.
- Prone to damage after some time.
Example of PVC Greenhouse
This walk-in greenhouse uses quality PVC material that facilitates ample light penetration. You can place it indoors or outdoors.
The frame structure is heavy-duty steel material that ensures it’s sturdy and durable.
Inside, you get 8 shelves to store plants, and you won’t need any tools when setting it up.
The structure is long and wide enough to allow you to walk in and tend to the plants.
It’s covered using top quality PVC to protect plants against harmful UV rays while permitting good light penetration.
Additionally, the outer frame uses heavy-duty metal that remains strong even when all 3 tiers are full of potted plants.
10. Glass Material Greenhouses
Glass is another quality material used to cover different types of greenhouses. It facilitates deeper light intensity, ideal for healthy plants. Also, it allows ample air filtration, which works best to control the humid environment.
- Allows more light penetration.
- Facilitates ample air filtration.
- Appealing to look at.
- Glass is expensive to use, especially on a huge greenhouse.
Example of Glass Greenhouses
You can easily set up this glass mini greenhouse indoors and plant some succulents inside. It provides the perfect humidity to help plants grow.
Glass is also the best material for light penetration, thus ideal for plants needing lots of light.
What Type of Greenhouse is Ideal in What Location?
How can you choose the best site for a greenhouse? Is the greenhouse you have in mind the best for that location? Answering these vital questions helps you make the best selection in terms of location.
By following the tips listed below, you can determine the best types of greenhouses for various locations.
Some greenhouses suit areas with less sunlight, while others require intense solar radiation to facilitate plant growth. The best types of greenhouses in this situation depend on the location you choose for each. For example, you can opt for an uneven span greenhouse if you’re in a hilly location.
How much land can you spare for a greenhouse? If you have a small piece of land, you can try mini greenhouses or lean-to design structures. Larger areas are good for bigger structures like Gothic Arch or Ridge and Furrow.
While you can set up a greenhouse anywhere, it’s best to keep in mind the weather conditions. Areas prone to months of snow are suitable for wood greenhouses that help retain warmth for the plants. On the other hand, those extremely windy areas need heavy-duty metal frames to keep greenhouses firmly arched to the ground.
Not all surfaces are stable. Those with less stability require more heavy-duty frame structures like metal and thick wood. In areas with more stability, you can build plastic greenhouses without any worry. Also, you must choose a location where water drains off easily.