How to Choose the Right Type of Greenhouse for a City Garden?

City dwellers often look longingly at houses with spacious gardens, wishing they could grow more than just a few potted plants on their balcony. But what if we told you that you can grow a variety of plants year-round, even in the smallest of city spaces? The answer lies in having a greenhouse.

A greenhouse, whether glass or plastic, allows you to extend the growing season. It creates a controlled environment where heat and light are regulated, providing optimal conditions for plants to thrive. The question is, with so many options on the market, how do you choose the best greenhouse for a city garden? This article will guide you through this process.

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1. Assess Your Available Space

Before you dive into shopping for greenhouses, take a step back and evaluate the space that you have. Greenhouses come in various sizes, from small, portable ones to larger, permanent structures.

Firstly, measure the area where you plan to put your greenhouse. Consider the maximum height you can accommodate as well. Remember, the greenhouse should not be too crowded as plants need space to grow properly.

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The shape of your greenhouse is also important. If you have a long but narrow space, a lean-to style greenhouse, which is attached to the side of your house, may be your best option. For a more square or circular area, a freestanding greenhouse would be more suitable.

Lastly, consider the direction of sunlight. Position your greenhouse in a place where it will receive ample light throughout the year.

2. Choose the Type of Greenhouse

Once you have assessed your space, the next step is to choose the type of greenhouse that will best suit your needs.

The most common types are glass and plastic. Glass greenhouses, while more expensive, are very durable and offer the best light transmission. They are also more resistant to scratching and UV degradation.

On the other hand, plastic greenhouses are cheaper and easier to install. They are also better insulators, trapping heat more efficiently.

Besides traditional greenhouses, you can also opt for cold frames or mini-greenhouses. These are perfect for small spaces and are great for hardening off plants before moving them outside.

3. Consider the Heating and Ventilation System

A crucial aspect of greenhouses is the heating and ventilation system. This controls the temperature and humidity, creating the ideal environment for your plants to grow.

Most greenhouses will come with a basic heating system, but you may want to consider upgrading it. For instance, if you are planning on growing sensitive plants, you might need a more sophisticated system to maintain a specific temperature.

Ventilation is key to prevent overheating in summer. Look for a greenhouse with vents in the roof and sides. Some even come equipped with automatic vent openers that will open and close based on the temperature inside the greenhouse.

4. Think About Water and Lighting Needs

While sunlight is the best source of light for plants, you may want to consider additional lighting for your greenhouse, especially if you plan on growing in winter.

There are various types of grow lights available, from fluorescent to LED. Choose the one that suits your plants’ needs the most. For instance, seedlings and plants that require a lot of light will benefit from full-spectrum lights.

Watering is another essential aspect of greenhouse gardening. Some greenhouses come with an integrated water system, which can be very convenient. However, if you choose a greenhouse without one, you will need to have a water source nearby to keep your plants hydrated.

5. Review Your Gardening Goals

Lastly, consider your gardening goals. Are you looking to extend your growing season? Do you want to grow exotic plants that require warmer temperatures? Or are you simply looking for a space to start seedlings early in the year?

Your gardening goals will dictate the type of greenhouse that will be best for you. If you’re trying to extend your season or grow exotic plants, you will need a more advanced greenhouse with heating and ventilation systems. If you’re just getting started with seedlings, a simple cold frame or mini-greenhouse might suffice.

Remember, no matter what your goals are, a greenhouse requires commitment. It is a space that you will need to monitor and maintain regularly. But with the right choice, it can become a rewarding addition to your city garden. It will not only enable you to grow a wider variety of plants but also allow you to enjoy gardening all year round.

6. Evaluate the Material and Durability

When choosing a greenhouse for your urban garden, it is essential to consider the material and its durability. Choosing a strong, durable material will ensure that your greenhouse can withstand the elements and provide a safe environment for your plants to grow year-round.

Two common materials used in greenhouses are toughened glass and polycarbonate. Toughened glass is incredibly durable and provides excellent light transmission, making it a popular choice for traditional greenhouses. It also offers a higher level of safety compared to standard glass, as it shatters into small pieces when broken, reducing the risk of injury.

Polycarbonate, on the other hand, is a type of plastic that is resistant to impact, making it a great choice for urban environments where the greenhouse may be exposed to falling objects or vandalism. Companies like Palram Canopia offer a range of polycarbonate greenhouses that are not only durable and safe but also easy to assemble.

Another option for a durable and cost-effective greenhouse material is polyethylene, which is often used in hoop house greenhouses. A hoop house is a type of greenhouse that is made using a series of large hoops covered with a layer of heavy plastic. They are generally easy to put together and can provide ample growing space in a city garden.

7. Explore Different Styles of Greenhouses

Once you have decided on the type of material you prefer, it’s time to explore different styles of greenhouses. The style of your greenhouse will greatly influence its functionality and aesthetics.

A lean greenhouse, as mentioned earlier, is a great option for narrow spaces as it can be attached to your house, providing an extended growing area without taking up too much space. This type of greenhouse is particularly useful for gardens with limited space.

Traditional greenhouses, on the other hand, can be a standalone structure in your garden. They can be square or circular, depending on your preference and the available space. These greenhouses offer plenty of room for a variety of plants and can be a beautiful addition to your city garden.

A mini greenhouse is a good choice if you’re just getting started with greenhouse gardening or if you have very limited space. These compact structures can fit on balconies or small patios, providing a controlled environment where you can grow a range of plants.

Finally, a hoop house is a simple and affordable option that can provide a large growing area. They are also quite flexible, allowing you to easily adjust the temperature and humidity levels inside the greenhouse.


A greenhouse can be a wonderful addition to a city garden, extending your growing season and providing a safe and controlled environment for a wide variety of plants. Choosing the right greenhouse involves assessing your available space, considering the type of greenhouse that suits your needs, and thinking about factors such as heating, ventilation, water, lighting needs, and your gardening goals.

It’s also important to consider the durability of the material and the style of the greenhouse. Whether you opt for a lean-to greenhouse, a traditional greenhouse, a mini-greenhouse, or a hoop house, each type of greenhouse comes with its own set of advantages and potential challenges.

But remember, owning a greenhouse requires commitment. From setting up the structure to maintaining the right conditions inside, greenhouse gardening requires continuous attention and care. But with the right planning and preparation, a greenhouse can truly transform your city garden, enabling you to grow a variety of plants and enjoy gardening all year round. Now, isn’t that worth the effort?

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