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12 Types of Greenhouses

greenhouse with plants in front

Wondering what type of greenhouse fits best in your garden? You’re in the right place.

Different shapes of greenhouse effect things like cost, insulation heat, among others. So it’s important to find the right one.

In this article, we’ll go over the eight types of greenhouse available on the market. As well as their advantages and disadvantages. So you can choose the right one for you.

     

    12 Types of Greenhouses 

    types of greenhouses

    1. Lean-to greenhouse structures

    Lean-to greenhouse structures lean on another structure for support. This is a home, business, garage, shed, or other outdoor structure in most cases.

    Lean-to greenhouses are considered attached greenhouses because they can't stand alone. These greenhouses attach to the roof and share a wall with another structure.

    The benefit of a lean-to greenhouse is that they don't require you to build four different walls since it shares a wall with another structure. This reduces the amount of building materials and also makes them less expensive than their detached counterparts.

    When building your greenhouse, the wall you choose to attach the greenhouse to is very important. You want to choose a location that gets sufficient sunlight. Selecting a wall that casts a shadow over your structure during the day can limit your plant growth and require you to install artificial lights.

    The shared wall gives lean-to greenhouses additional wind resistance that is not offered by detached greenhouses. In addition, the shared wall of a lean-to greenhouse absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night. This makes these greenhouses efficient at maintaining adequate temperatures during cold nights.

     

    Advantages 

    • Budget-friendly: Costs less than additional greenhouse structures due to the less material and reduced heating costs. 
    • Easy Access to Utilities: Since lean-to greenhouses are built against another structure getting access to heat, electricity, and water is much easier than other greenhouses. 
    • Improved Stability: Since lean-to greenhouses share a wall with another structure this improves their stability and wind resistance. 

     

    Disadvantages 

    • Reduced access to the sun: Lean-to greenhouses get less access to sunlight since they only accept light from three walls. Also, the structure can block the sunlight from certain directions. 
    • Location limitations: Lean-to greenhouses require careful consideration of the sunlight, building height, and building location. 
    • Foundation Requirements: The longevity of the lean-to greenhouse demands a robust foundation, particularly when glass is involved. 

     

    Best Lean-To Greenhouses

    Solexx Harvester Lean-Tsoo Greenhouse

    The Solexx Harvester  Greenhouse is a great option if you are looking for a lean-to greenhouse. Solexx is unique because they use specially designed panels that improve climate control, temperature control, and light diffusion.

    The lean-to greenhouse is also unique because while it can lean on a structure for support you also have the option of leaving it freestanding. Leaning against a structure improves it stability but as a stand alone greenhouse it also very stable. 

    This greenhouse comes in a variety of sizes. The smallest lean-to Solexx offers is a 8 ft. x 8 ft. and as large as 8 ft. x 24ft. This means no matter what your requirements are Solexx has you covered. 

    Hybrid Lean-To Greenhouse 

    The Hybrid lean-to greenhouse is a well-built greenhouse with transparent polycarbonate panels. This greenhouse only has three walls, which means its required that you have an appropriate structure to accommodate this greenhouse. 

    The downside of this greenhouse is that is does not come in many different sizes. We only offer a 4ft x 7ft greenhouse. 

     

    2. Even Span / Gable Greenhouses

    even span greenhouse

    Even span greenhouses are also commonly referred to as gable or gable roof greenhouses. This is one of the most common greenhouses because it looks similar to other structures such as sheds and garages. 

    These structures have a peaked roof and are some of the larger greenhouses available on the market. Even span greenhouses are ideal if you want to grow tall plants. The high head room across the entire greenhouse provides plenty of growing space. 

    Even Span greenhouses are also provide better air circulation and temperature management. The straight walls and large maximum height create an ideal environment  that allows for proper circulation which also helps with temperature control. 

     

    Advantages

    ● Plenty of space for vegetables and plants to grow. Can easily install shelves or hand plants from the ceiling. 
    ● Due to its simple design they are easy to build and cost effective. 
    ● Easy to install irrigation and heating systems. 



    Disadvantages

    ● More expensive to build than lean-to-greenhouses.

    ● Straight walls can limit the amount of sunlight that enters your greenhouse. 

     

    Best Even-Span Greenhouse

    Solexx Garden Master Greenhouse 

    The Solexx Garden Master is the traditional gable greenhouse. Compared to other greenhouses it comes with a shelving system to maximize your growing space. One of the biggest differences between Solexx and other greenhouses is their panels. They use their own Solexx panels which are a white opaque color. 

    Their panels are designed to improve light diffusion, eliminate hot spots, and improve temperature control. This greenhouse comes in a variety of different sizes to fit your needs.

     

    Monticello Gable Greenhouse 

    The Monticello is a traditional gable greenhouse. The benefit of purchasing a Monticello greenhouse is that it comes with packages. These packages include accessories that you will need to get your greenhouse started. 

    They have four different packages with the minimal accessories you need to get started and their mode advanced package which includes an irrigation and heating system. 

     

    Snap & Grow Greenhouse

    The Snap & Grow Greenhouse series is extremely popular due to how easy it is to built. This greenhouse uses a patented snap technology that allows you to build the greenhouse quickly. 

    This greenhouse is a sturdy and well-built which means it can withstand 56 MPH and up to 15.6 pound per square foot of snow. 

    Another major benefit is that is highly affordable. The Snap & Grow greenhouse is inexpensive and reduces the initial start-up cost of purchasing . In addition, it comes in 8 feet and 6 feet width models. With the length reaching as high as 24 feet on each model. 

    This greenhouse is highly versatile and inexpensive when compared to other greenhouses. 

     

    3. Uneven Span Greenhouse

    uneven greenhouse

    Uneven span greenhouses are known for their lopsided roof. These greenhouses are  used on uneven ground such as hills or unleveled terrain. These greenhouses allow you to create an ideal environment to grow plants on a foundation that can't support structures. 

    Due to their unique design, these structures are typically custom-built for each situation since the slope of the hill must be considered. 

    These greenhouses are not common for residential use but are often used commercially. This is because in most cases, farmers and residents will level out their ground to make it easier to maintain their plants and flowers. Level ground is also more beneficial for plant growth. 

     

    Advantages:

    • Allows you to build on hills and other unlevel surfaces. 
    • They are typically large and allow you to grow both large and small plants with ease. 

     

    Disadvantages:

    • They are more expensive to heat and built due to their unique design. 
    • Installing can be difficult due to the design. 
    • Typically requires custom design and engineering to match the exact slop of the ground. 

     

    4. A-frame Greenhouse

    a-frame greenhouse

    This is one of the most common greenhouse structures used by residential greenhouse owners. They are great for beginners because they are easy to build and offer a wide base with plenty of growing room.  

    These greenhouses are constructed using four simple walls that meet to create a triangular roof. The side walls are perpendicular to one another, allowing them to meet and create a peak. The front and back walls are triangular, enclosing the structure in a triangular shape. 

    Most A-frame greenhouses use transparent or glass walls. These greenhouses are commonly treated as solo structures, and they are not built next to other structures. 

     

    Advantages

    • Easy to build and requires fewer materials than other greenhouses. 
    • High peak works great for growing tall plants. 
    • Budget-friendly construction due to the basic design. 
    • Easy to take apart and relocate

     

    Disadvantages

    • Triangular corners reduce circulation and can create temperature control issues. 
    • Sidewalls limit the amount of growing space. Typically only allows for smaller plants at the edges of the structure. 
    • High headroom for tall plants is limited to the center of the structure. 
     

    5. Gothic Arch greenhouse Structure

    gothic arc greenhouse

    This greenhouse is very similar to the A-frame greenhouse with one adjustment to the walls. The side walls on the gothic arc greenhouse are not straight but curved. The curved walls create a larger structure giving it more headroom along the walls.

    Similar to the A-frame it only uses four walls to create a triangular roof. This simple yet elegant design is popular due to its beautiful aesthetic appeal.

    The gothic frame is a great alternative for people who like the A-frame simplicity but want additional space and a more aesthetically pleasing greenhouse.


    Advantages

    • Simple design requires fewer materials.
    • Curved triangular shape allows for improved circulation compared to the A-frame.
    • Snow and rainwater does not collect on the roof. Allows for easy collection of rainwater is desired.
    • Easy to maintain, repair, and clean.

     

    Disadvantages

    • Lacking headroom on the sidewalls compared to other greenhouse structures.
    • Typically does not allow shelving storage
    • Installing irrigation and heating systems can be difficult due to the curved walls and pointed roof. 

     

    6. Dome/Quonset/ Hoop Greenhouse

    tunnel greenhouse

    This greenhouse has many names, including tunnel, hoop, and quonset. As the name suggests, it has curved walls that make it look like a tunnel.

    The tunnel greenhouse is a very popular style of greenhouse that is used both residentially and commercially.

    The reason for this is that the design offer flexibility in terms of headroom with a small adjustment to the base legs of the greenhouse. The shape also makes it easy to clean, repair, and maintain.

    Another benefit is that the curve walls typically don't limit the headroom and make it easy to add shelving and other accessories to the greenhouse.

     

    Advantages

    • Budget-friendly design and easy to build.
    • Easy ridding of snow/slush and rainwater
    • Greenhouse is versatile and allows for easy growing of different plant sizes. 
    • Curved roof and walls allows for optimal sun absorption. 


    Disadvantages

    • The storage area is minimal with shorter designs.
    • Reduced headroom along the sides.

     

    Best Tunnel Greenhouses

    Solexx Conservatory and Gardeners Oasis Greenhouse

    Solexx produces two different types of tunnel greenhouses. The first is the Solexx Conservatory which is a larger model with slightly curved side walls compared to straight side walls. 

    The Conservatory greenhouse is designed for more experienced growers or people looking for a larger greenhouse. The smallest model is a 16ft x 8ft greenhouse and the largest a 16ft x 24ft greenhouse. 

    The Gardeners Oasis greenhouse is a smaller and has straight sidewalls. The gardeners greenhouse come in four different sizes that allows growers to choose from a 8ft x 8ft and as large as a 8ft x 24ft. 

    Both greenhouses come with Solexx signature panels. These panels are durable and specially designed for improved light diffusion, better growing, and temperature control. 

     

    7. Ridge and Furrow Greenhouse

    ridge and furrow greenhouse

    This greenhouse structure links A-framed designs to the lengths of roof eaves. This new safeguard lets rainwater and snow/slush fall off. It also allows for more greenhouse ventilation due to the absence of sidewalls. Fuel use and automation fees are lessened due to wall sections that let heat leave. This structure is also excellent for growth purposes.

    These greenhouse structures are often used in the Netherlands, Canada, Europe, and Scandinavian nations.

     

    Advantages

    • Effortless expansion; perfect for farming on a bigger scale
    • Increased greenhouse ventilation
    • Absent sidewalls mean a lesser amount of necessary development equipment.
    • Easy to heat and cool

     

    Disadvantages

    • Absent system to drain water can ruin plants
    • Gutter shadows can block sunlight entry

     

    8. Sawtooth Greenhouse

    saw tooth greenhouse

    This greenhouse has a sawtooth structure as the name suggests. This sawtooth design allows for superior control of ventilation and air circulation compared to other greenhouse designs.

    The sawtooth design allows for vents to be built into the greenhouse with ease. This makes installing watering, ventilation, and heating systems work well with the vent system.

    Maintaining positive plant conditions and temperature management is easy due to Sawtooth design and vents.


    Advantages

    • Great light due to Sawtooth curves
    • Great airflow and heat ventilation
    • Conducive for cold and warm climates


    Disadvantage

    • The structure is robust and complicated
    • The uneven roof can create issues with headroom.
    • Typically required more knowledge and experience to manage due to the built-in vent systems. 

     

    9. Gambrel Greenhouse

    gambrel greenhouse

    The gambrel greenhouse is very similar to a gabel or even span greenhouse. These greenhouses are sometimes referred to as tri-Penta greenhouses. The gambrel greenhouse has a pointed triangular roof. But instead of straight walls that go directly to the ground, gambrel greenhouses have slanted walls. Before they reach the floor, the walls become straight. 

    The gambrel greenhouse is in a way the combination of a gabel greenhouse and a gothic arc greenhouse. However, the gambrel offers more headroom than tunnel greenhouses and other greenhouses. It's also able to absorb more sunlight due to the slanted windows. 

    Gambrel greenhouses are versatile and offer the combined advantage of a gambrel and tunnel greenhouse. These greenhouses are great for both small and large plants. 

     

    Advantages 

    • Allows for more light absorption due to the curved walls. 
    • Highly durable due to frame construction. 
    • Allows for easy installation of irrigation and other advanced systems. 

     

    Disadvantages 

    • Typically has less growing room than gable greenhouses near the sidewalls.
    • The structure can be difficult to build due to the design. 
    • Typically has more pieces and is more expensive than other greenhouses. 

     

    10. Shade House

    shade house

    Shade houses are not traditional greenhouses, but they are included on this list because they are often used as an alternative to a greenhouse.

    Shade houses typically only have a covering on top and no walls. These are ideal if you want to protect your plants from harsh weather or to improve light diffusion.

    Shade houses would be considered cold frame greenhouses because they are not capable of supporting any equipment. The benefit is that they come in a variety of different shapes with flat, gable, or dome roofs. 

    These shade houses are only temporary and not permanent solutions to improving your garden's growing conditions.



    Advantages

    • These structures are affordable and easy to find
    • They are easy to build and move around

    Disadvantages

     

    • Don't provide much protection.
    • Not a long term solution to harsh weather conditions
    • Don't protect plants from cold or harsh temperatures.

     

    11. Tunnel Greenhouse

    tunnel greenhouse

    Tunnel greenhouses are completely round greenhouses. They don't have any straights walls. The walls typically start curved from the floor and meet at the peak of the greenhouse. 

    These greenhouses are ideal because they allow you to absorb plenty of sun with the curved walls. Tunnel greenhouses are also great for circulation and are great for temperature control. 

    These structures are easy to build and typically have limited materials. Unfortunately, typically tunnel greenhouses offer limited growing space on the side of walls. In some cases, tunnel greenhouses can be on the shorter side making limiting their overall growing space. 

     

    Advantages 

    • Easy to build and has limited materials 
    • Allow you to absorb plenty of sun due to curved walls. 
    • Offer great circulation and temperature control.
    • Rain and slow easily slide off the curved sidewalls. 

     

    Disadvantages 

    • Limited support due to curved walls 
    • Growing spaces is limited on the side walls. 
    • Maximum headspace can be limited due to the overall size

     

    12. Geodesic / Igloo Greenhouse

    geodesic greenhouse with garden beds

    The geodesic or igloo greenhouse is shaped like an igloo. This means that your greenhouse has a circular shape with limited headroom. 

    These greenhouses are not common as they are often hard to purchase. These are ideal because they give you a 360-degree view. Geodesic greenhouses are limiting in their growing space and, due to the shape, typically require extensive planning to take full advantage of the space you have. 

    These greenhouses are typically difficult to build and expensive due to their complicated design. 

     

    Advantages 

    • Give your greenhouse a unique and modern look. 
    • Give you a 360-degree view of the outside of your greenhouse 
    • Great for growing small plants using intricate shelving systems. 

     

    Disadvantages 

    • Difficult to build and expensive. 
    • Limited headroom makes it difficult to grow large plants. 
    • The shape does not provide ideal air circulation or temperature control. 

     

    Greenhouse Categories

    Before we discuss the eight types of greenhouses in-depth, here they are at a glance. Below, I’ve divided these eight types of greenhouse into three groups: attached, freestanding, and gutter connected structure.

    Attached

    1. Lean-to Greenhouses
    2. Even-Span Greenhouses

    Freestanding or independent structures

    1. Uneven Span Greenhouses 
    2.  A-frame Greenhouse
    3. Dome / Quonset Greenhouse 
    4. Geodesic Greenhouse 
    5. Tunnel Greenhouse 
    6. Gothic Arc Greenhouse
    7. Gambrel Greenhouse

    Gutter Connected Structures

    1. Furrow and Ridge Greenhouse 
    2. Sawtooth Greenhouse

     

    Conclusion

    There you have it, the eight types of greenhouse and their pros and cons.

    When choosing a greenhouse, remember to consider other factors such as glazing, heating, insulation, cost, durability among others.

    Purchasing a greenhouse can be a daunting task. But don’t let that stop you from getting your own. In the end, the joy of picking flowers and out-of-season produce makes all the hard work absolutely worth it.