Investing in a greenhouse is something that all avid gardeners will consider at some point – because who doesn’t want to expand their growing options by making the most of the microclimate in a backyard greenhouse?
Once the reserve of sumptuous country houses and botanical gardens, domestic greenhouses became an affordable option for avid gardeners in the 20th century.
“For those with enough time and space, the ability to grow seedlings, grow indoor plants and overwinter delicate plants will certainly never go out of style,” says gardener Rebecca Bevan.
When looking for ideas and inspiration for greenhouses, consider how much space you have available to house the structure, whether it is free-standing or leaning against a wall, and what style of greenhouse you prefer. You will also want a source of power for heat and light.
We have pre-filtered some great greenhouse options for you to make your choice easier.
Go to ours Garden ideas for more inspiration for outdoor spaces.
1. Build a wall at the base
A greenhouse with a dwarf wall has several advantages over all-glass constructions. The wall protects against minor breaks from missed footballs or stray stones sent into orbit by your mower, and hides unsightly gardening supplies like grow bags and weed killers.
“Dwarf walls also offer the opportunity to be creative with the use of materials and get a very aesthetically pleasing result,” says Christopher White, Hartley Botanic.
A dwarf wall made of brickwork similar to your home can help a new greenhouse blend in harmoniously.
2. Increase your options
Enthusiastic gardeners with space to grow – in the truest sense of the word – can opt for several greenhouses in order to create optimal growth conditions for different plants.
Various heating options, from cold frames and temperate to steamy and tropical, will expand your horticultural horizons and create unique microclimates in your own garden.
3. Build in a kitchen garden
Position your greenhouse in the heart of your kitchen garden and increase the amount and variety of ingredients you can grow.
Tender herbs like basil, juicy tomatoes, winter salads, eggplants, chilies and zucchini thrive under glass, while harder plants can be grown outside in beds.
See our Ideas for the kitchen garden for more inspiration and expertise.
4. Go for graphic black
If you love the graphic lines of Crittall glazing, a black framed greenhouse might be for you. Get the look for less with a black aluminum or black lacquered wood design.
“If you choose a bold color, choose a greenhouse with a less elaborate design. Our croft greenhouse has an artisanal feel to it, but with less decorative details, ”says Graeme Runeckles, White Cottage Greenhouses.
5. Add a shed
Part shed, part greenhouse – grow-and-store garden buildings get big.
This design has a glazed front half, which provides an attractive place to display your plants, while your gardening stuff and potting soil can be tucked away in the storage space behind it.
6. Choose a pitched roof
“The extra height created by a traditional Victorian 45-degree pitched roof provides more space for specimen plants and tall crops such as cucumbers and tomatoes,” says Matt Jordan of the GBC Group.
“It also provides better air circulation and temperature regulation, which is important in the summer months when plants can be scorched.”
For more ideas, see our guide to the best products for growing in the greenhouse.
7. Bridge the gap
A glazed structure can create an attractive connection between two buildings of different designs. It will also create a green oasis in the center of your home.
“Here, the steep monopitch roof, the low eaves and the special doors help to bridge the height difference between the house and the outbuildings,” explains Lisa Morton, director of Vale Garden Houses.
8. Keep it small
“Just because you have a big garden doesn’t mean you need a big greenhouse. Evaluate how many plants you want to grow in your greenhouse and choose a suitable size, ”advises Andy Baxter, CEO of Internet Gardener.
The best thing about a small greenhouse is that it fits in almost any room, making it easier to find a south-facing spot.
“Tall, narrow greenhouses hold the light better than shorter ones. Small greenhouses can get very hot very quickly, so it’s important to have adequate ventilation and keep everything supplied with food and water, ”advises Baxter.
9. Go Victorian with a wine house
“The Victorians were the first to design wine house style greenhouses that took advantage of existing garden or house walls,” said Catherine Kirkland, Marketing Manager at Gabriel Ash.
One advantage of a wine house over an add-on greenhouse is that the roof pitch is offset so it doesn’t need walls that high to get a decent height and width.
“The wall looks like a huge storage heater that absorbs the heat from the sun during the day and slowly releases it at night,” says Kirkland.
10. Choose clear glazing
Almost invisible, a frameless glass structure, like this tailor-made model from Pure Greenhouse, allows a clear view of the flowers and products in your garden, both inside and out.
This design consists of 10 mm thick tempered glass connected to slim stainless steel brackets and features an innovative, continuous glass-to-glass ventilation system that promises air regulation at a commercial level.
Even the shelves are frameless so that maximum light can reach the plants on the lower levels.
“We set out to create a long-lasting, beautiful greenhouse that would be just about anything on the market,” said Joe Ellis, founder of Pure Greenhouse. ‘The tempered glass retains heat well in winter.’
11. Get the natural look with wood
The latest innovations ensure that classic wooden greenhouses are no longer as laborious to maintain as they used to be.
“Canadian Western Red Cedar is very rich in natural preservative oils, making it virtually immune to rot and a great choice for greenhouses,” said Richard Baggaley, director of The Greenhouse People.
Cedar also has a unique subtle aroma that can deter pests.
12. Ask about lightweight aluminum
Aluminum framed greenhouses are loved for their lightweight assembly, which makes construction quick and easy.
“Aluminum also enables thin but strong frames and glazing beads that flood the room with more light,” says Tom Hall, Managing Director of Alitex.
“For additional strength and durability, aluminum can be given a polyester powder coating. This additional layer is very resistant to scratches, cracks, peeling, UV rays and rust. The maintenance effort is minimal – an annual cleaning is sufficient. “
13. Lean against a wall
Even the smallest garden usually has enough space to incorporate a lean-to-style greenhouse positioned against the wall of the property.
“Being close to your home makes it a lot easier to get electricity and water into the greenhouse,” says Tom Hall, owner of Alitex.
‘A power source extends the hours you can garden in winter and also allows you to grow exotic fruits.’
Should i buy a greenhouse?
“The decision whether to install a greenhouse depends very much on your garden and your horticultural ambitions,” says gardener Rebecca Bevan, author of The National Trust School of Gardening.
“If you just need to grow a few seedlings or hibernate a few tender plants, a sunny window sill or cold frame may be enough. If you want to grow a wide range of vegetables and flowers from seeds, grow exotic species, or have a reliable tomato harvest, a greenhouse is a must. ‘
Where should I put my greenhouse?
“The most important consideration is to find a place that has little or no shade from trees, buildings or hills,” says Rebecca Bevan.
“It’s also best to avoid areas with a lot of wind, which weakens the greenhouse and cools it in winter. A few well-placed shrubs can help reduce the effects of the wind. ‘
Which greenhouse design should I choose?
“Most modern greenhouses are free-standing, but wall-mountable extensions are also available,” says Rebecca Bevan. “Lean-tos have the advantage that the heat absorbed by the wall during the day is transferred to the greenhouse at night, thus maintaining a constant temperature.
See: Ideas for small vegetable gardens – growing inspiration for small spaces
“Most domestic greenhouses are glazed to the ground, which is good for growing plants at ground level. There are also very attractive models to be found that are only partially glazed to the floor and stand on some layers of brick and are therefore a little warmer.