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What is a Greenhouse?

A Greenhouse is a garden building designed to provide a sheltered environment for growing and cultivating plants. The exterior of the structure is made from transparent materials, such as polycarbonate plastic, which lets in sunlight and traps heat indoors to create a controlled growing environment. A form of ventilation is usually built into the structure to allow air circulation and prevent build ups of hot air.

This environment allows plants to be grown and maintained for longer throughout the year, while eliminating the risk of environmental damage caused by strong winds or rain. Greenhouses themselves come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with different sizes, frames, and glazing materials available.

What Are the Main Types of Greenhouse?

At Garden Buildings Direct, we have three main Greenhouse types sorted by the materials they are made from. These categories are Wooden Greenhouses, Plastic Greenhouses, and Metal Greenhouses.

Our Wooden Greenhouses are constructed with strong timber tongue and groove panels that interlock perfectly to ensure protection from the elements for years on end.

All of our Metal Greenhouses use strong aluminium framing and rust-resistant galvanised steel bases to create a long-lasting structure.

With our Polycarbonate Greenhouses, we replace glass with safe and effective Polycarbonate panels that are glazed to spread light around your greenhouse and protect what you're growing!

How Do Greenhouses Work?

Greenhouses are simpler than they might seem. Their structures are effectively built as “traps” for both sunlight and heat. Trapping sunlight is beneficial for the plants as it is required for photosynthesis and therefore for their growth. Trapping heat is essential (at least in the UK) during the winter months when outside temperatures become increasingly cold, as the warm inside environment allows you to avoid the frosts so you can start growing earlier and for longer.

As well as trapping heat and light, their designs usually include a form of ventilation. This is essential in the summer to avoid over-trapping heat in the building and drying out the plants.

Do You Need Planning Permission for a Greenhouse?

No, none of our greenhouses require planning permission, provided it doesn’t take up more than 50% of the space in your garden and isn’t placed past your front wall. Planning rules dictate that a garden building, in this case a greenhouse, that buildings must conform to certain sizes, specifically:

  • Not being taller than 3m for a pent roof, or 4m for a dual pitch roof.
  • Not exceeding a max eaves height of 2.5m.

None of our greenhouse models have heights exceeding these rules, and so won’t require planning permission to be used in your garden.

A greenhouse is a structure which creates the best possible growing environment for plants, all year round. The transparent walls and roof of a greenhouse means that they stay warm inside, even during the winter.

Throughout the day, greenhouses receive direct sunlight, allowing the air inside to remain hot, which in turn keeps plants, fruits, and vegetables at a suitable growing temperature. Styles vary from lean to greenhouses and small greenhouses to larger metal greenhouses and polycarbonate models.

Vegetables are ideally suited to be grown and cultivated within a greenhouse. Though vegetables will likely be able to reach their maximum growing potential in a large, heated greenhouse, a small and unheated greenhouse can still allow gardeners to extend the growing season beyond what it would be in the often vicious outdoors. The types of vegetables which are to be grown in your greenhouse will be dictated what time of year is best to begin the growing process. For more, check out our guide to growing in an unheated greenhouse.

You can grow just about anything you want within the walls of a greenhouse. The clearest benefit of a greenhouse is that it enables you to grow vegetables, flowers, plants and herbs at a time of year and during periods of cold weather when they couldn’t otherwise be grown outdoors.

Simply being able to regulate and maintain a warm temperature opens up numerous growing possibilities. For example, the notoriously spicy Carolina Reaper chili pepper will rapidly decline when exposed to temperatures below 16 Celsius. Though, it’s important to bear in mind that the cost of warm-weather crops during the winter will naturally be higher. So, be sure to consider these costs before deciding on what you intend to grow in your greenhouse. And for more, check out our polycarbonate greenhouse growing guide.

This is largely dependent on what type of greenhouse you have/intend to purchase. The plastic glazing on our polycarbonate greenhouses allows them to last for an extended period of time, thanks to being stronger and more durable than glass in a glass greenhouse. A greenhouse which is well looked after and not exposed to exceptionally bad weather conditions all year round can be expected to last for a number of years.

Assuming your greenhouse is of a high quality - such as the ones sold here at Garden Buildings Direct - then you’ll be able to use it effectively for the vast majority of the calendar year, with the only anomaly being in periods of exceptionally cold weather. Heated greenhouses further allow for year-round use, but often aren’t cost effective. See how other customers have used their greenhouses year-round.

There are a number of ways of heating a greenhouse. These include:

  • Insulate with bubble Wrap - Horticultural bubble wrap can withstand UV light, so can provide warmth to plants whilst minimising light loss. Simply peg it down as necessary around your plants. 
  • Horticultural fleeces - work in the same way as bubble wrap.
  • Greenhouse Heating System - Electric heating is your safest option, with another choice being a fan heater. If your greenhouse isn’t equipped with mains power, then propane and paraffin heaters represent suitable options.

At Garden Buildings Direct we believe that wooden framed greenhouses with polycarbonate glazing offer the best all-round options. They:

  • Are sturdy and durable
  • Are competitively priced
  • Maintain a traditional aesthetic
  • Are safer than glass
  • Maintain ambient temperature well

If this is a question that has been playing on your mind the answer is probably yes. Even a small greenhouse can be a great space for people who love to garden but find kneeling for long periods, or being out in the cold, hard. Greenhouses are a relatively inexpensive way to create a year-round growing environment for plants, fruit, and vegetables and can be the starting point for a lifelong hobby.