Greenhouse buying guide


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Unleash the potential of your garden with your very own greenhouse. Perfect for cultivating seeds, saplings and cuttings as well as more delicate, tender plants. The right greenhouse will enable you to grow beautiful flowers and delicious fruit and veg, all year round.

Every gardener and garden is different, so use this guide to help you choose the right shape, size and style of greenhouse for you.

What do I need to consider before buying a greenhouse?

Before buying your new greenhouse, you’ll need to think about two things that should help you to decide which size and what style to go for:

1. Where you’re going to place it.
2. Which direction is it going to face.

Top tips
  • Mark out the space that your greenhouse will occupy with string or canes, that way you can get a good idea of how much of your garden it will take up and how it will affect the rest of the space.

Types of greenhouse


With a pitched roof, rectangular shape and metal frame, traditional green houses are the ideal choice for larger spaces. Offering generous amounts of growing space and maximising light, these classic designs blend in well with their surroundings.



A similar shape to traditional greenhouses, barn style constructions offer increased headroom, making them ideal if you’re wanting to grow climbers, vines and taller plants. Their attractive design and the fact that they don’t require bases make them a versatile, easy to install option for any garden.


Heptagonal greenhouses are the perfect choice for smaller gardens. They take up minimal floor space, while still providing a useful place to nurture your young and tender plants.



Another great option if your garden is limited in size, lean-tos are built against a supporting wall like a shed or the exterior of your house. Whilst lean-tos generally offer a smaller amount of growing space, they do offer good head height for ease of working. It’s worth remembering that lean-tos can be prone to overheating, so you may need to install some extra ventilation or blinds to protect your plants during the hotter months.


Cold frame

A cold frame is an affordable alternative to a greenhouse. A great choice for novice gardeners and perfect for smaller spaces, cold frames offer a convenient place to store and protect your plants and seedlings away from the frost. Cold frames require no bases, making them portable and really easy to install, but they tend to be much smaller than greenhouses, and don’t provide the same level of light or protection as a permanent structure.

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Cold frame

Polythene grow rack

Another affordable option for smaller spaces, clear polythene grow racks offer plants limited protection from frost and a bit of extra warmth over the winter months. Easy to assemble, clear polythene grow racks can be dismantled and stored flat when not in use. This makes them the perfect choice for smaller spaces and bijou gardens.

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Types of materials

Once you’ve chosen the size and the style of your greenhouse, you’ll need to think about the materials for your frame and glass. Both options of frame have their own benefits, so it’s worth taking the time to think about exactly what you need before you make a decision:

Aluminum frame

Aluminum frames are available with either natural silver or a powder coated finish. Lightweight and durable, they’re easy to assemble and easy to maintain. With a variety of colours to choose from, aluminium frames can be styled to match your garden. As aluminium doesn’t store heat well, these types of frames can be hard to heat, so you’ll need to take extra care to protect your plants in the winter.

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Wood frame

With a natural and traditional look, wooden frames are usually made from durable hardwoods. Delivered in large, pre-glazed panels, wooden greenhouses retain heat more efficiently, making them a smart idea if you’re looking to grow year round. However, they do require more maintenance, which can make them more expensive. In addition, the panels are heavy, so you may need some professional help with assembly.

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Once you've picked the type of frame you'd like to use, it is then time to choose your glazing. There are three types, each with their own benefits:

Standard horticultural glass

The most affordable glazing option, standard horticultural glass is clear, practical and looks great. However, this type of glass will splinter when broken and can break very easily – so if you’ve got pets or young children, you may want to look elsewhere.

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Polycarbonate safety glazing

Light, flexible and shatterproof, polycarbonate safety glazing is a good choice if you’ve got energetic children or excitable pets. With an opaque finish, two sheets of polycarbonate act like double-glazing, offering improved insulation. If you go for polycarbonate, you’ll want to check regularly for algae between the sheets, which can be difficult to remove.

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Toughened safety glass

Toughened safety glass crumbles when broken, making it the safest option for your greenhouse. Although it is more expensive than other types of glazing, it’s clear finish, superior strength and improved safety make it a great choice for family homes.

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Greenhouse flooring

Constructing your greenhouse on a base will help to give it strength and stability, so that it lasts longer. Whilst you can build your own base out of bricks and mortar, you can save yourself loads of time, energy and hassle by investing in a galvanised stainless steel base.

Once your greenhouse is installed, you’ll need to lay a floor to complete the job. Concrete is a popular, permanent choice, but you can also use wooden decking, gravel, patio slabs or even rubber matting to create your floor.

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Top tips
  • If you’re planning on growing all year round, or want to grow delicate seedlings and exotic plants, then some kind of greenhouse heater is a must.

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