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Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement

A greenhouse can enhance your plans for a garden site by giving you the chance to grow healthy plants in a controlled environment. It also allows you to maintain plants year-round without the restrictions certain weather may have on them. The consistency of a properly functioning greenhouse makes this environment ideal for growing plants year round for sale. There are many ways in which you can use your green house, and depending on your budget you will have to decide which type of greenhouse you need.

The type of greenhouse you select will depend heavily on the location you decide on. A greenhouse can either be attached to a building or be freestanding. Attached greenhouses come in three types; half size, full structure, or extended window structure.

There are several different cover options for a greenhouse which include glass, fiberglass, rigid double-wall plastics (polycarbonates), and film plastics (polyethylene film). Keep in mind, the type of frame and cover must be matched correctly.

Traditional glass coverings have a pleasant appearance, are inexpensive to maintain, and have a high degree of permanency. However, they are no longer the most efficient material for greenhouses because they do not retain heat as well as other materials. Also, they are more susceptible to being broke. If they are to be used, it is recommended that the glass be doubled or tripled for extra strength.

Fiberglass is lightweight, strong, and practically a weatherproof material. It creates a virtually shadow less environment and also retains heat more efficiently then glass. Typically, it will last 15-20 years.

Rigid double-wall plastics (polycarbonates) are energy efficient, resistant to impact, and fire resistant. The plastic sheets of acrylic or polycarbonate are available to give long-life and diffuse light to minimize shadows.

Film plastics (polyethylene film) are inexpensive and easy to maintain. They come in several grades of quality and several different materials. However, they are generally replaced more frequently than other covers.

Greenhouse frames range from simple to complex, depending on the imagination of the designer. Certain engineer requirements also play an important role in what frame you select. Frames are generally made from wood, galvanized steel pipe, aluminum, or PVC pipe. Common greenhouse frame options include:

• Quonset (Galvanized steel pipe frame)
• Gothic (Wooden arches)
• Rigid-frame (Vertical sidewalls and rafters)
• Post and Rafter (Embedded post and rafters)
• A-Frame (Collar beam included with rafters)

Other factors that need to be considered when building a greenhouse include flooring, heating, air circulation, ventilation, cooling, controls and automations, watering systems, and lighting.

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