Whether you're growing a few favorite plants in a small greenhouse or counting on a massive structure to sustain an entire food garden, a successful spring harvest depends on using the best greenhouse materials possible.
Though getting started with greenhouse gardening may seem difficult, you can choose the ideal greenhouse design for your needs and start building right away with the correct knowledge. Keep reading to find out more about the best greenhouse materials and how to choose the one that will best suit your demands and those of your plants.
Materials for Greenhouses: What to Look For
The following factors should be considered while choosing greenhouse materials:
- Climate: The quantity of sunshine received each day, as well as the highest and lowest temperatures when the greenhouse is in operation, dictate the insulation value, transparency of the covering material, and the amount of ventilation required.
- Weather: Not to be confused with climate, weather encompasses transitory occurrences such as strong winds, snowstorms, and hailstorms. A greenhouse in an area where this happens regularly requires a more sturdy covering.
- The plant you are growing: If you're growing tropical plants in a cold climate, you'll need a thicker covering with a higher insulating value than if you're primarily establishing the greenhouse to start germination early in the growing season.
- Price: Many of the best greenhouse materials are rather pricey. If you're constructing a huge greenhouse, you might have to cut corners by selecting a covering that's almost as excellent as the finest but not quite.
The Greenhouse Structure
Your greenhouse's efficiency will vary depending on the materials you select for its frame, flooring, and covers. The health of your plants will depend on the quality of the greenhouse you create for them, so make sure you pick durable materials.
The structure of a greenhouse needs to be strong, of course, but it also helps if it is simple to put up and provides some insulation, particularly if you reside in a cold environment. Common materials for the frames of prefabricated greenhouse kits include aluminum and wood. Greenhouse frames made of galvanized steel and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are also often used.
Having a floor in the greenhouse increases the comfort level and facilitates the use of a wheelbarrow for moving dirt and plants. It may not require flooring, but anything other than the earth will need to be waterproof and drain effectively if used. Greenhouse decking will do the trick.
Concrete, porous concrete, gravel, or soil are common greenhouse flooring options. Greenhouse heating and lighting are both impacted by the flooring material you employ.
Greenhouses can be covered with a variety of materials, including glass, fiberglass, acrylic, double-sheet polyethylene film, polyvinyl chloride, and polycarbonate. You should put the greatest thought into the covering of your greenhouse since it will determine how much sunlight your plant needs.
The amount of light transmitted and the degree of diffusion available from various materials vary. Because both too much light and too much shade will kill plants, it's important to exercise caution while selecting your cover's material.
Greenhouse Materials Overview
Glass is the most expensive and highest-quality choice for greenhouses. Because it is the heaviest, it might be the most challenging to install. However, if correctly fitted and protected from breaking, the glass will last any other material choice in terms of service life.
Growers in the north, where temperatures are often lower, can't utilize these greenhouses to cultivate their crops. A single pane of glass is easily broken and cannot sustain the weight of snow, making it unsuitable for use as a greenhouse roof. Since heat may easily escape via a single pane of glass, a single-pane greenhouse is also the least energy-efficient greenhouse.
Although a single-pane greenhouse is ideal for light transmission, it may still be too bright for your plants in some locations. As a result of these drawbacks and the high cost of the glass, single pane greenhouses are more suitable for aesthetics than practicality. Additionally, heating costs might be double or even three times those of a greenhouse with two pane windows or a PVC-based fabric.
Greenhouses with double-pane glass are more energy-efficient than single-pane greenhouses without sacrificing aesthetics. Glass greenhouses are attractive, and double-paned glass may save heating costs in half.
Coatings can be put to the inside of greenhouses with double pane glass to reduce heat gain and increase insulation. Also, you should realize that double-pane greenhouses are often the most expensive option before you make the investment.
Polycarbonate is an affordable choice for glass and has some advantages that may make it the ideal choice for some greenhouse projects.
Polycarbonate is lightweight and simple to work with, which DIYers may like, and when treated properly with UV stabilizers, you can expect the panels to last anywhere from 10 to 20 years.
Polycarbonate panels are also available in a variety of twin-wall and triple-wall configurations, allowing you to employ polycarbonate in a variety of applications where insulation is critical.
On the negative, polycarbonate, like any other material, may ultimately disintegrate due to UV exposure; nevertheless, this would be primarily cosmetic. Polycarbonate can take decades, if not centuries, to completely decompose.
Single-wall polycarbonate is a more durable material than glass, yet it still has a number of drawbacks. Light is not diffused adequately and heat is not insulated properly by the single-wall polycarbonate sheets.
When compared to glass, the light transmission of single-wall polycarbonate is significantly lower. Single-wall polycarbonate lets in around 94%-96% of light, whereas horticultural glass lets in about 97-98%. Because of its combustibility, single-wall polycarbonate is not recommended for growers.
When compared to single-wall polycarbonate, twin-wall polycarbonate is far superior. Light is likewise diffused by twin-wall polycarbonate, although only 80-84% of it makes it through the panels.
As an added downside, polycarbonate panels tend to fog up after some time. The yellowing effect describes this mistiness. Yellowing polycarbonate panels lower the amount of light that can flow through them, so it's important to keep an eye out for that if you want to get any. A further problem with twin-wall polycarbonate is condensation, which can cause plant diseases and poor light retention.
The poly film is the cheapest alternative and might be a decent choice for greenhouses when resources are limited and long-term use is not as crucial.
Although poly films are simple to deal with, they are the least long-lasting alternative for greenhouses.
To Sum It Up!
Prepare to broaden your understanding of when what, and how much you can cultivate in your own backyard. It's incredible that many of our favorite fruits and veggies may now be grown right in our own backyards instead of at the grocery store. Greenhouses are crucial for many gardeners because they allow them to grow plants from seed to table.
Our future growth seasons are not guaranteed to be like the summers we experienced as children or even the summer before last, and this is true regardless of where we happen to reside. Now, more than ever, we are helpless in the face of climatic forces we cannot control.
In an effort to restore some kind of management over their products, many gardeners are relocating their operations to greenhouses. Inside the greenhouse, the air is constant and tranquil despite the extreme temperature swings, hail, and wind outside.