Get a jump start on your garden's growing season with a greenhouse, designed to capture the sun's heat so you can begin planting your favorite vegetables, flowers and shrubs before your yard has thawed. Greenhouse kits from nurseries or online retailers provide almost everything you need to erect your own greenhouse.
There is no ideal greenhouse size that works for all gardeners, but it is best to get one that can accommodate your current needs plus provide room for some growth in your plant collection. The amount of time you plan to use your greenhouse can also affect its size. A small greenhouse is often perfect for those using it seasonally just to start a few plants, while those who plan to use it year-round will likely need a bigger structure. Regardless, make sure your greenhouse has enough room for you to move and stand comfortably within it.
Greenhouses come in a variety of designs, including polygons and domes. Three of the most common designs are lean-tos, stand-alone buildings and curvilinear greenhouses. Lean-tos are often cheap because they are built against another structure and don't need as much building material. They work best in areas that receive moderate amounts of both sunshine and shade. Stand-alone greenhouses are often the most practical for growing the greatest variety of plants, thanks to their spacious interior and tall ceiling. Curvilinear greenhouses are less common than the previous two, but are suitable for areas with low amounts of sunshine as the structure's curved sides maximize sunshine reception.
The material used to cover the greenhouse is critical. Glass is traditionally used. It's heavier than plastic coverings, is fragile and doesn't diffuse light, thereby increasing the chance of overheating the plants. However, it lasts a long time and is typically perceived as attractive. Fiberglass is a glass alternative. It diffuses light efficiently and retains heat, making it ideal in a wide range of climates, but it can be unattractive due to its penchant for collecting dirt and stains.
The frame of the greenhouse holds up the covering and has a direct correlation with your kit's initial price and maintenance costs. Metals like steel and aluminum have an extended lifespan so long as they are coated for outdoor use. Steel greenhouse frames are usually cheaper than aluminum, but the latter lasts much longer because it never rusts. Plastic is a very budget-friendly alternative that can match metal's strength when paired with internal metal supports, but it will break down in the sun over time. Wood frames are rarely used for commercially-sold kits but are an attractive option, especially when made from resilient woods like cedar.