Greenhouses are popular with gardeners and anyone who wants fresh, homegrown food or flowers. Greenhouses are also used for outdoor offices, sunrooms, classrooms, pet enclosures, and even for passing on the love of gardening to the young people in your life. Greenhouse kits are much easier, more affordable, and less time-consuming than building a greenhouse yourself.
Greenhouses can greatly extend your local growing season, and if they are well-constructed, they can provide a sheltered place for your plants to safely grow without you having to worry about pests, deer, moles, and other critters. You can grow a salsa garden in the winter season or grow beetroots in the summer. With a greenhouse, you can control the growing environment.
Deciding to build your own greenhouse is a significant decision in itself. Should you buy a greenhouse kit or build one from scratch? Considering just costs, it’s a no-brainer that buying a greenhouse kit is way less expensive and more time-efficient. Building a greenhouse is not just about cobbling together different greenhouse parts. Installing a greenhouse in your yard requires a foundation, a floor, providing water and electricity, purchasing building materials such as glazing, addressing venting and humidity, building a frame with adequate vents and windows, buying and installing additional greenhouse accessories to optimize your greenhouse’s performance, and more. Customizing your greenhouse in terms of style, design, wall material, and size will cost more than buying a branded one.
Greenhouse kits range from simple tents to ornate buildings, with prices varying from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. In most cases, the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ applies. Here are some thoughts from former owners of less expensive greenhouses that we have heard over the years: “the wind blew my greenhouse away,” “my plants got sunburned,” “the first snow collapsed the roof,” “I could not put it together,” and more. Owners of metal-framed greenhouses shared that “the metal frame keeps the greenhouse cold and difficult to heat,” and “it’s hard to keep it clean.”
When greenhouse kits are offered by big-box or home goods stores, they may provide a generic solution that may not be the best fit for your specific climate or your plants. We recently reviewed an offering from a large-box retailer and found that their solution did not allow enough sunlight in, had limited air intake, and its 2×4 framing created shadows.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” (Audrey Hepburn)
If you are considering building your own greenhouse versus buying a greenhouse kit, choosing to build your own greenhouse is a viable option, and there are plans and examples available online, such as those from Mother Earth News. Building it yourself offers the satisfaction of hands-on work. When you purchase a greenhouse kit, you benefit from the years of experience provided by the supplier. The most frequently heard observations from those who build their own greenhouse include concerns about condensation control (or the lack of it), overheating, shadows, and less automation.
“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.” (Alfred Austin)
Buying a greenhouse kit will save you both time and money. You’ll save time on the design process and trips to the store for supplies. Money is saved as greenhouse kit providers purchase materials in bulk, whereas do-it-yourself greenhouse builders pay retail prices. Additionally, if you were considering hiring a contractor, the cost of a full build is avoided.
Buying a greenhouse kit allows you to customize the kit to the size and features you want, as well as the materials used. For example, you can choose the type of glazing that meets your local needs, including factors like snow loads, wind loads, humidity, and temperature requirements.
“A garden is much more than a collection of plants. It is a living expression of our vision and passion. It is the manifestation of dreams.”
The modular nature of greenhouse kits is a benefit if parts need to be replaced in the future. Greenhouse kit providers can provide replacement parts as components weather or break.
A greenhouse kit allows you to get a solution faster. Even if the kit is ordered and arrives later, you can put your time and effort into other matters, such as preparing the foundation for the greenhouse or tending to the garden areas surrounding it.