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A Greenhouse for Your Home

A home greenhouse offers the gardener the joy of growing plants in all seasons and in all types of weather. Unlike a glass conservatory (which is a room addition with a glass roof and glass walls for the enjoyment of plants), a greenhouse is a structure designed especially to allow the gardener to work with plants. Home greenhouses can be custom built, or they can be ordered as kits from companies that specialize in garden supplies.

If you are thinking of buying a greenhouse, consider the following:

  • Home greenhouses come in a variety of styles.
    • The smallest and least expensive are greenhouse windows that fit into an existing house window.
    • Lean-tos are half greenhouses that are attached to an existing wall. They are inexpensive and have the advantage of usually being close to existing sources of electricity, water, and heat. Temperature control can be difficult in lean-tos, as the supporting wall will frequently collect or lose heat at a different rate than the translucent roof and walls.
    • An even-span greenhouse is a full size model that has one gable end attached to another building. It has the advantage of easy access, and it will provide the good air circulation necessary to maintain uniform temperatures during the winter heating season.
    • Freestanding greenhouses are separate structures. They generally provide the best exposure to sunlight, but electricity, water, and heating must usually be installed, so they are often the most expensive option.
  • Greenhouses must be covered in a translucent material that lets in sunlight.
    • Glass is the most beautiful and traditional. It will last for many years and is easy to maintain, but it is expensive, as it needs a strong foundation and frame capable of holding the weight of glass panes.
    • Fiberglass is lightweight, strong, and very weather resistant, but the resin covering the glass will eventually wear off and need to be replaced.
    • Many greenhouses built strictly for utilitarian purposes are made of double-walled plastic. This is a material with two layers of rigid plastic separated by webs. It provides a long lasting, heat saving cover, and it can be stretched over curved surfaces.
    • Film plastic can also be used. Its advantage is that structural costs are low. as the frame can be lighter and the plastic film is inexpensive. It has to be replaced more frequently than other types of construction materials; and since it attracts dust from the air, it needs to be frequently hosed off.
  • The best place to construct a greenhouse is where it will get maximum sunlight. It should not be shaded most of the day by a tree or another building. A free standing greenhouse usually provides the best exposure to the sun. Greenhouses that are attached to another structure should be placed on the south or southeast sides, where they will get the morning light that allows the plantsí food production process to begin early in the day. An east location is the next best choice. Greenhouses built on west or

    southwestern sites will also work, but care should be taken that the late afternoon sun does not make the greenhouse too hot for the plants. A northern exposure is only suitable for plants that require little direct light.

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