Is the time and money needed to set-up a greenhouse worth it in the long run?
We like to garden and use greenhouses frequently - but for the busy individual who doesn't do all this full time, is a greenhouse is really worth it? Do the time and money involved really result in a more productive garden and give you the incentive to jump in and start one?
If you’re even asking yourself the question then, yes, a greenhouse is worth it. A greenhouse provides you with an environment where you can grow plants and vegetables year round. Despite some investment of money, the fruits of your labor make it worth it.
You may be thinking you don’t want to spend the money on a greenhouse or you don’t have time to put together a greenhouse. If you have more than one or two plants you grow in your yard, though, a greenhouse is worth it.
Pros and Cons of a Greenhouse
Obviously, any decision involves some pros and cons and a greenhouse is no different. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a greenhouse and then talk a bit about each one.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
The obvious benefit of a greenhouse is that you can have fresh fruits and vegetables.
Maybe you only have a small garden right now because you feel like you don’t have a green thumb. A greenhouse helps those with more of a black thumb control the environment for better growing. Forget a trip to the store for produce; you can hop in your own backyard.
You can start a seedling inside and move it outside to your greenhouse without having to worry that rain, frost or too much sun will damage your new plant.
It may sound trivial, but when everything else is cold, gray and bleak in the middle of winter, your greenhouse will be a warm place full of living, breathing plants. Talk about a breath of fresh air.
Grow plants not native to your region
Perhaps you want some tropical plants as part of your garden, but live in Tasmania - or the more common reverse here - you live on the Sunny Coast but want to grow your favourites from Sydney or Melbourne. A greenhouse allows you to grow whatever you want by allowing you to control the temperature.
No insect problem
While greenhouses are not immune to the occasional insect invasion, it’s certainly better than a garden in the open air. Since a greenhouse is a closed-off structure, most insects are kept out. The occasional insect may sneak in, especially if the environment gets too humid.
On the flip side, there are some cons to a greenhouse. Let’s take a look at those.
Initial investment to build
Yes, there will be some sort of initial investment to build your greenhouse and it’s more than just throwing a few seeds in the soil. There are ways to build your greenhouse according to your budget, though. We’ll talk about those later.
Cost of heating and cooling
While you can control the environment in a greenhouse, it takes some money to do that depending where you live. You may have to take steps to warm up your greenhouse in the winter or cool it down in the summer. Again, there are multiple options available to work within your budget.
Constant monitoring and maintenance
A greenhouse may require more of a time commitment than you’re willing to make. When you have an open-air garden, the season changes and the plants die off. You’re free until next season.
With a greenhouse, you’ll have to monitor the temperature and humidity all year to make sure the conditions are ideal for plant growth. You’ll also have to maintain any parts that fail; misters, panels, shelves, etc.
Increased water bill
Depending on how much gardening you do, owning a greenhouse could increase your water bill. You’re water plants all year rather than just a few months out of the year.
No one can make this decision for you. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of owning a greenhouse and compare it with what you want out of it to make the best decision.
Build Your Own Greenhouse or Buy Premade
If you decide to start a greenhouse but lack the handy skills to build it on your own, there’s no need to worry. Greenhouses are popular enough that there are premade kits if you don’t want to build it yourself.
If you’re deciding whether or not to build your own greenhouse, once again, it’s important to weigh the benefits and costs of each.
Build your own greenhouse
If you build your own greenhouse, you have complete freedom to create your own design. Part of choosing your design is choosing the frame material and the coverings. You can also build it in the shape and orientation that is best for your area.
Depending on where you live, the total cost of materials is most likely cheaper than buying a premade kit.
The downside of saving money is that it most likely will involve more of a time commitment than a premade one.
If you’re like me and would like to build your own greenhouse, but lack any creativity to come up with a design; there are plenty of plans available online.
Buy a premade greenhouse
Obviously, the number one benefit of a premade greenhouse is that it’s all put together for you already. You might lack some say in design, but many greenhouse manufacturers let you choose everything from the frame to the covering to the size.
You might be limited in the exact location you put your greenhouse because you can’t design it to fit into your yard just right, but for the most part, you’ll have plenty to choose from.
Tips for a Successful Greenhouse
It’s important to get all the right elements set up in your greenhouse to make sure it’s fully worth it. If your greenhouse is only operating at half of its ability, you’ll feel like you’ve wasted your money and time.
The elements that are critical to your greenhouse are a good ventilation system, a heating system, and a cooling system.
A ventilation system is important no matter what the temperature. While it does help regulate the temperature a bit, it also helps with humidity and provides the necessary air exchange for plants to produce sugar for healthy growth.
Ventilation systems are run either naturally or mechanically. Since you’re asking if a greenhouse is worth it, a natural ventilation system might be the way to go. The initial cost will be close to that of a mechanical system, but in the long run it will save you a few dollars.
Depending on where you live, you might need to heat the greenhouse or cool it down depending on the temperature. Some solutions cost a bit while others won’t cost much at all. The heating and cooling solutions you choose depend on how much temperature moderation you have to do and your budget.
Again, you will have to invest some time and money when it comes to monitoring the temperature and adjusting as needed, but it will be worth it when you grow healthy plants all year long.