Choosing a Greenhouse

Careful planning will pay off when selecting and putting up a greenhouse.
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Seedling in a Greenhouse

Seedling in a Greenhouse

Having a greenhouse means never having to give up gardening because of the weather. You can continue to propagate seeds and cuttings and grow a variety of plants from season to season. Having a home greenhouse is a dream for many gardeners, and there are many styles and sizes that fit most budgets and space considerations. When deciding on a style for your home, the sky's the limit. There are small solariums, medium-size greenhouses and larger structures like conservatories.

You'll find most greenhouses are made from aluminum, which is lightweight and weatherproof. Galvanized steel is also lightweight and very sturdy. You can also use wood, but be sure to choose pressure treated lumber, cedar or redwood for weather resistance. No matter which type of greenhouse you decide on, there are several considerations when choosing a building site:


  • Sun-loving plants need six hours of sunlight. Sites with less need supplemental light.
  • A sheltered area is good, but too much shade results in poor growth. Look for trees, shrubs and structures that may cast shade.
  • Southern exposure is best, east or west is okay, but northern exposure is probably too shady.

Gorgeous Greenhouses

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New England Style

Made from powder-coated white cast aluminum, this stunning creation by Christopher Lines & Associates has a French limestone floor and is ideal for year-round entertaining and serves as a backyard retreat from the main house.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Christopher Lines & Associates

The San Juan Greenhouse

Greenhouses are no longer just for growing plants and are now being enjoyed by homeowners as garden retreats, artist studios, exterior living rooms and architectural showpieces. The SolarGro San Juan Greenhouse, for example, has all the attributes of a nature conservatory but can serve many other purposes with its 12 by 16 foot all glass structure with auto roof vents. 

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The Potting Shed

Built from hand-thrown brick with a tempered glass roof, this elegantly designed greenhouse by CFS Architects blends in perfectly with its idyllic surroundings. 

Photo By: Image courtesy of Cheatham, Fletcher, Scott Architects, Augusta, Ga.

The English Orion Greenhouse

Perfect for small spaces or as a starter greenhouse, The 6 x 8 foot English Orion model combines a stylish design with durability and comes with the tallest door in its class. The powder-coated green frame blends in perfectly with any garden setting.

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Washington State Cedar

The Northern Heritage greenhouse offers gardeners the beauty, warmth and natural ambience of a solid cedar conservatory. The 8 x 16 foot structure features a high peak roof which allows summer heat to rise and easily sheds snow in the winter. The red cedar frame, made in Washington State, is insect resistant and easy to assemble for the DIY gardener. 

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The Estate Providence greenhouse

Whether you want your own little private garden getaway or a place to grow and nurture orchids, the 10 x 12 foot Estate Providence greenhouse is an appealing option with its wagon wheel and ridge cresting.

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Glass Artistry

This spacious greenhouse, designed by Groundswell Design Group, embraces both indoor and outdoor living with its custom-made fire pit leading up to the airy and elegant glass framework.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Groundswell Design Group

Interior Luxury

This inside view of the Groundswell Design Group's glass greenhouse shows how radiant heating in the floor allows the homeowners to enjoy the room year round.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Groundswell Design Group

The Lean-To Look

The 6 x 12 foot Dover Home-Attached greenhouse is a traditional lean-to structure whose straight eave compliments most homes. The glazing is clear tempered safety glass, the frame is rustproof and maintenance-free and it stands up to high winds and heavy snowfall.

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The English Jupiter greenhouse

For its price range, the 8 x 14 foot English Jupiter greenhouse offers multi-functionality and a handsome design which is available in green or black powder-coat or a clear anodized finish (a process that keeps aluminum looking pristine for a longer time period).

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The Vancouver Garden Room

With its striking roof lines that accentuate the feeling of space, the 15 x 24 foot Vancouver Garden Room design is a showstopper with its stone half walls (also known as pony walls) and ornamental ridge cresting. 

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The All-Season Solarium

A solarium can function as a living room and plant showcase as in this striking combo of stone walls, white frame glass panels and ridge cresting from Conservatory Craftsmen.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Conservatory Craftsmen

The Cascadia Rainier greenhouse

If your plants prefer temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the winter, the 5-Wall polycarbonate glazing on the Cascadia Rainer greenhouse will provide significant energy savings for you. With sidewalls nearly 6 feet high, there is more space for plant shelves and hanging baskets.

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Mahogany Beauty

A greenhouse can function as a stylish adjoining room to your home where you can enjoy an indoor garden year round. The all mahogany frame, ridge cresting  and stone walls of this design by Conservatory Craftsmen also includes in-floor heating.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Conservatory Craftsmen

Big and Wide

For the serious greenhouse gardener, it's hard to beat the 20 x 40 foot SolarGro Cascadia greenhouse with its clear tempered safety glass which is impervious to weather and the TwinWall roof which is made of lightweight polycarbonate and is known for its insulation strength. 

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The Cape Cod Parkside greenhouse

One of the more popular styles available, the 8 x 12 foot Cape Cod Parkside greenhouse has an extra strong aluminum framework and maintenance free enamel finish along with automatic ventilation that allows hot, stale air to escape.

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  • If the site is too exposed, it will be costly to heat in winter and keep cool in summer. Insulation can help in this situation.
  • Protection from wind will keep the greenhouse sturdy longer.
  • Too much shelter can mean not enough light.


  • Be especially careful to choose a level area where water doesn't collect.
  • Many foundations are dug in and then filled with concrete.
  • Plan ahead when possible; the less frozen, wet or snow-covered your yard is the easier it is to lay the foundation. Contractors can thaw frozen ground and move snow, but it costs more.


  • Putting a greenhouse against a house makes connecting water, gas and electricity easier.
  • The area in front of the greenhouse should be clear of obstacles.
  • The path leading to the greenhouse should be level and wide enough for a wheelbarrow. Be sure the ground is hard enough to withstand wheelbarrow traffic.


  • Galvanized steel, which is lightweight, is sturdy and won't rust. It can withstand weight up to 100 pounds. It's also good for windy areas because it can withstand winds up to 70 miles per hour, making it a good choice for inclement weather.
  • The greenhouse walls can be constructed from glass, which is heavy and can be expensive; film plastic, which is economical but not insulating enough for colder regions; or a rigid plastic, which is shatterproof and retains heat.
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