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How to Determine the Right Greenhouse Size for Your Needs

How to Determine the Right Greenhouse Size for Your Needs

For any gardening enthusiast, having a greenhouse allows you to extend your growing season and grow a diverse range of plants. But choosing the right size greenhouse is crucial to make the most of your investment.

The size you need depends on several factors including space available, budget, and types of plants you want to grow. This comprehensive guide will discuss typical greenhouse dimensions, size considerations, benefits of larger greenhouses, and tips to maximize space in small greenhouses.

Key Takeaways

  • Consider your gardening goals, space, budget, and plant types when determining the right greenhouse size. Start small if you're a beginner.

  • Typical sizes range from compact 4-8ft hobby greenhouses to large 12-30ft commercial models.

  • Height is also key - taller 10-14ft greenhouses allow better air circulation.

  • Large greenhouses offer more growing capacity but require higher initial investment and maintenance.

  • Maximize space in small greenhouses through vertical growing, optimal layout, and attached lean-to designs.

a drawing of greenhouses with measurements

    What Size Greenhouse Do You Need?

    The ideal greenhouse size depends primarily on your gardening goals and the space available. Here are some key questions to ask yourself:

    • How many plants do you want to grow - starters, seedlings, or full-size plants?

    • What types of plants do you want to cultivate - smaller herbs and greens or vining tomatoes and large vegetables?

    • Do you need room for shelving, potting benches, tools, and supplies?

    • What is the maximum footprint size your property can accommodate?

    • Is your budget suited for a small hobby greenhouse or a large premium model?

    • Are you physically able to handle the maintenance of a large walk-in greenhouse?

    Considering these factors will determine whether a compact 4x8 ft greenhouse meets your needs or if you should size up to a 10x30 ft model. Match the greenhouse dimensions to the scale of your gardening plans and available outdoor space. Start small if you are a beginning greenhouse grower and expand later if needed.

    Typical Greenhouse Dimensions

    Greenhouses come in a wide range of sizes to suit any gardener's needs. Here are some of the most common size options:

    Small Greenhouses (6-8ft Wide)

    Small greenhouses are quite popular for urban gardeners with limited space. They can range from mini compact greenhouses that easily fit on a balcony to portable pop-up models around 6-8ft wide.

    The smallest mini greenhouses on the market have an interior width of just 1.8 meters (71 inches) and a depth of 91.4 cm (36 inches). They are ideal for starting seeds, nurturing seedlings, or growing a few small plants.

    Slightly larger portable greenhouses around 6-8 ft wide offer ample space for serious hobby gardening. These allow growing vegetables like tomatoes and peppers or several potted plants.

    Medium Greenhouses (8-10ft Wide)

    For the enthusiastic greenhouse planter, medium-sized models are a great choice. They typically range from 8-10ft in width and offer enough room to grow a diverse range of vegetables, flowers, herbs, and other plants.

    These greenhouses provide adequate space for all gardening activities like potting, transplanting, and harvesting your homegrown produce. The extra elbow room is highly beneficial compared to more compact models.

    Large Greenhouses (Over 12ft Wide)

    Commercial growers or gardeners with acreage often opt for spacious walk-in greenhouses over 12ft wide. These large-size greenhouses can be custom-built to almost any size.

    A typical full-scale greenhouse is around 30 feet wide and 96 feet long. This allows ample room for hundreds of plants with separate growing areas and walkways. Larger greenhouses are great for plant nurseries or urban farms aiming to maximize plant production.

    an actual image of the Exaco Janssens Royal Victorian Orangerie Greenhouse with lighting and furniture inside

    Benefits of Large Size of Greenhouses

    While large greenhouses have a higher initial investment, they do offer some compelling benefits:

    More Room for Plant Growth

    The most obvious advantage of a spacious greenhouse is the increased space for cultivating plants. With more square footage, you can grow a wider variety of flowers, vegetables, and other plants.

    This allows gardeners to experiment with exotic or space-hogging plants that would be impractical in smaller greenhouses. The more growing room also results in higher yields.

    Extra Space for Supplies and Tools

    A larger greenhouse gives you ample room to conveniently store all your gardening tools, equipment, and supplies indoors. The extra organizing and workspace make greenhouse tasks more efficient.

    In compact greenhouses, you may need to carry supplies in and out each time. Storing tools safely inside the larger greenhouse saves repeated trips and hassle.

    Better Temperature and Humidity Control

    Maintaining ideal temperature and humidity levels is critical for healthy plant growth. Larger greenhouses tend to offer better climate control than more compact models.

    The greater air and soil thermal mass help minimize sudden temperature fluctuations in large greenhouses. Good ventilation and heat retention also support a more stable indoor environment.

    an actual image of the Exaco Janssens Royal Victorian Greenhouse VI 36 on a concrete base

    Possible Downsides of Large Greenhouses

    While large-size greenhouses have some clear advantages, they also come with a few disadvantages to weigh:

    Higher Upfront Cost

    The most significant downside of a large greenhouse is the higher initial construction cost. The expense goes up sharply with increased dimensions due to greater material and labor requirements.

    For example, specialized glazing for large spans, sturdy foundations, and climate control systems add to the costs compared to a basic hobby greenhouse.

    More Difficult Temperature Regulation

    Maintaining the desired temperature can be more challenging in oversized greenhouses. The vast space makes heating or cooling the greenhouse more energy and cost-intensive.

    Installing large-capacity heaters and adequate ventilation is critical, adding to the setup costs. Temperature and humidity can also vary throughout different zones in a large greenhouse.

    Require More Maintenance

    The larger the greenhouse, the more time and effort may be needed for regular maintenance. There are more surfaces to clean, components to repair, and plants to tend to.

    A large model may become a burden if you don't enjoy doing greenhouse chores. Maintenance costs like glazing and filter replacements are also higher for big greenhouses.

    Here is a quick overview of the pros and cons of large-sized greenhouses:

    Pros Cons
    More space for plant growth Higher upfront construction costs
    Extra room for supplies, tools Challenging temperature regulation
    Better climate control Increased maintenance needs
    an actual image of the Outdoor Living Today Garden in a Box With Birdnetting Cover | 8 x 8 with plants inside it

     

    Tips for Maximizing Space in Small Greenhouses

    Limited room doesn't have to limit your greenhouse gardening ambitions. Here are some tips to make the most of compact greenhouse models:

    Use Vertical Growing Methods

    Installing shelving, wall-mounted planters, and hanging baskets makes use of vertical space. This expands the planting area without requiring more floor space.

    You can also train vining crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans vertically using trellises. Opt for compact or dwarf plant varieties suited for tight spaces.

    Optimize Layout and Shelving

    Carefully plan the greenhouse interior layout to optimize every square foot. Position benches and shelving to maximize growing space while allowing room to work.

    Growing different types of plants with different height requirements also helps use space efficiently. Take advantage of micro-climates in different zones.

    Consider Attached Lean-To Style

    Attached lean-to greenhouses are a great space-saving option. By utilizing the existing wall of a building for one side, you can create a greenhouse in unused outdoor space.

    The angled roof slopes down from the wall of your home or garage to let in ample sunlight. Lean-to greenhouses work well even in small gardens.

    For more tips on choosing the best greenhouse design and layout, check out our greenhouse buyer guide.

    Recommended Greenhouse Sizes Based on Your Needs

    When selecting a greenhouse, consider the following recommended sizes based on your gardening needs:

    For Home Gardeners

    A small hobby greenhouse between 6-8 feet wide is ideal for urban gardeners with limited space. This compact size lets you start seeds, raise transplants, and grow a few plants like herbs and tomatoes.

    For Avid Gardeners  

    Step up to a medium 8-12 foot wide greenhouse if you want to grow a diverse range of flowers, vegetables, and other plants. This gives you enough room for potting, transplanting, and harvesting fresh produce.

    For Commercial Growers

    Opt for a spacious freestanding greenhouse over 20 feet wide for serious large-scale production. The increased space allows specialized zones for propagating, maturing plants, and workflow.

    Consider Height Too

    The height of the greenhouse is also an important factor to consider. Greenhouses are typically 7 to 14 feet in height, with taller models ranging from 10 to 14 feet. Choose taller 10-14 foot models for ample overhead clearance and better air circulation.

    Start Small & Expand 

    It's best to begin with a smaller greenhouse, especially if you're a first-time grower. You can always add on sections or additional greenhouses as your gardening ambitions grow.

    Let your specific needs, climate, budget, and site constraints guide your ideal greenhouse size. With good design, even a small greenhouse can produce bountiful harvests!

    Conclusion

    Carefully think through your needs and constraints before choosing the best greenhouse for yourself. Let your specific needs, climate, budget, and site constraints guide your ideal greenhouse size. 

    With some creativity, greenhouse gardening can be rewarding at any scale. The freedom to have your own year-round crops is possible with greenhouses both big and small.

    FAQs

    What type of greenhouse size is best for a small backyard garden? 

    For a small backyard, a 6 to 8 ft wide greenhouse is ideal. This compact size gives enough room to start seeds, raise transplants, and grow a few small plants like herbs and vegetables. Lean-to greenhouses attached to walls maximize space.

    How much greenhouse space do you need per plant? 

    In general, allocate 1 to 2 square feet of greenhouse space per plant. Leafy greens need 1 sq ft while tomatoes require 1.5-2 sq ft. For vines, provide 4-6 sq ft per plant. Ensure proper spacing for healthy growth.  

    What factors should you consider when choosing the perfect greenhouse size?

    Key factors to take into consideration when it comes to choosing a greenhouse are your gardening goals, space available, budget, types of plants, climate, maintenance ability, and vertical growing potential. Start small if you're a beginner gardener and expand later if needed.

    When would you need a larger greenhouse versus a medium greenhouse?

    If you want to grow commercially or need room for hundreds of plants, shelving, potting benches, tools, etc., choose a large over 12 ft wide greenhouse. For urban gardening with space constraints, a medium 6-10 ft greenhouse will suffice to grow a good variety of plants.

    Previous article What Direction Should a Greenhouse Face for Optimal Plant Growth?
    Next article What is a Cold Frame Greenhouse? Everything You Need to Know

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    About The Author

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu is the resident backyard products expert and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for crafting outdoor retreats began in 2003.

    As a fellow homeowner, he founded Backyard Oasis to provide top-quality furnishings and equipment, collaborating with leading manufacturers.

    His main focus is on sheds and generators!

    In his spare time he like to hike the tallest mountains in the world and travel with his family.

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