A gardener ready to add a greenhouse to his landscape must decide between a free-standing or attached structure. A free-standing unit offers a large area to work in, while an attached lean-to or a larger, attached even-span is more suited to the hobbyist or extended season gardener. The unit should be a sound, protective structure to hold shelving and tables full of plants. The foundation and construction materials are important to the stability of the building.
Choose a foundation that is appropriate for the type of greenhouse being built. A concrete knee wall, wood beam and concrete pier or concrete slab with rebar and mesh are needed for areas with hard winter freezes. A greenhouse that is intended to be used for years should also have the best foundation possible. A foundation of wood, structural solid plastic sills, recycled plastic or plastic wood composites would work for greenhouses in warmer climates. Use concrete, pavers, bricks, gravel, lava rock or hard-packed dirt over a weed barrier for flooring.
Types of framework materials include wood, aluminum, iron, metal hoops, galvanized steel or polypipe. The large professional greenhouse is mainly constructed of heavy-duty metal framing such as steel. The framework is needed to support the weight of the greenhouse covering and door frame.
Polyethylene sheeting or plastic is the most affordable cover for the small to large greenhouse, though it must be replaced more often than other materials. Glass panels are a thicker and longer-lasting traditional cover for any greenhouse, but they are also the most expensive. A do-it-yourself builder can use recycled windows to build a small greenhouse for his plants. Clear-grade flat rolls or panels of corrugated fiberglass give the owner another good option to cover the unit. The various materials must be as clear as possible to allow sunlight to permeate the building.
- Photo Credit Garden in summer image by Scott Latham from Fotolia.com
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