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Although I have been gardening for many years, I am only now, about to buy my first greenhouse.  The choice is bewildering!  Should it be wood or metal, set on bricks or the ground.  I will mainly use it for cuttings and overwintering and growing salad crops.  Are there any pitfalls I should try and avoid please?  I am so excited about this project...


  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,658

    It depends on your budget as prices can differ greatly. For potting, overwintering and cuttings one set on bricks with lots of staging would be good, but they are expensive. For growing tomatoes and salad crops one with clear sides to the ground is good and is usually cheaper.

     I have a polycarbonate one as I have stony ground (limestone) with a paddock next door with horses. I thought it would be tougher with stones being kicked about! In early spring I grow a lot of bedding plants from seeds and plugs which I put on temporary staging using trestles and planks. I have a potting bench and some permanent shelves as well. Then I remove the temporary shelves and and plant tomatoes down that side. It's lovely to be out gardening when it's raining!

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Thanks for the advice.  I am leaning towards the 'on bricks' although it will depend a bit on the budget.  It will be great to do things even if it is raining outside.  I am planning to make it very comfortable! soft music, candles and all terracotta pots.  I don't think I will go for the salad crops as it's only a small garden

  • I have had a cheap plastic covered frame for the last two years.It was ideal for a beginner but I cannot find a replacement cover and the old one is now full of holes. I intend to replace it with a polycarbon one and the old frame wil lmake good staging for it.

  • Go for the biggest one you can afford and have space for.  Ideally concrete onto a solid base (single row of bricks?) so it cannot shift in the wind and twist the frame out of shape. Glass is clearer and allows more light in but poly does have the advantages of being lighter to handle and less pront breakage. As much movable shelving as you can get made out of alsorts and you will have an extremely useful piece of garden equipment.

  • Hi Pam,

    Despite being a gardener since I was 9, 2012 has been my first season as a Greenhouse Virgin. It is incredibly exciting.

    My greenhouse is aluminium (didn't have a choice as it was free) and is set onto a concrete surround. This helps to make it mouse proof. While the greenhouse was free itself, It has cost me around £850 to kit it out with timber staging, which was made by my husband, so there was only a timber and screw cost; 2 overhead lights, an internal tap for water; a waterproof electric plug for my hot box, proper flooring and sufficient weed suppressant membrane covered in chippings.

    I have already had to ditch the automatic vent purchased as it wasn't strong enough for the job. My 4 roof vents cover 32 square feet.Unfortunately the next grade of automatics come in at £80 odd per vent..ouch.

    All this cost however depends on what size you purchase and the rule of thumb is purchase a size bigger than you think you need.  I went from zero to 10ft wide x 8ft high by 13 ft long (it had been cut down from 24ft long) and I still ran out of space.

    One of the Dr Hessayon Expert series on Greenhouses will give you an excellent guide to being a glasshouse enthusiast. Good luck and happy growing.

  • Hi Pam,

    i went through this very thing last year, i ended up going for an alumimium frame with glass, i trawled through eBay for weeks tring to find one secondhand in my area and got a 12ft x 8ft for 200 pounds, it meant i had to go and dismantle it myself and get it home but doing that made it much easier to put together, i had a concrete foundation laid and 1 course of concrete blocks put down to which i attached the base, it really was straightforward, 

    id suggest you look on ebay or in your local free ads paper, youll save a lot on the initial cost and then have it to spend on a great foundation, path, vents, staging etc etc etc lol

  • Jammy2Jammy2 Posts: 30

    I bought my first greenhouse in February this year. Its been fantastic. Obviously I've not even had a whole year using it, but a few things are already evident. Firstly (as posted above) go for the biggest option. I got an 8 x 12, which seemed huge when empty but is now jammed full. Secondly getting a flat base is critical. I cannot stress this enough! Thirdly auto opening vents are a life saver, especially if you are at work during the day or go away.

    I built mine so that it was open to the earth, and have half staging and half beds for things like tomatoes and salads. I have no idea if this was a good move or not yet!

    Good luck - I've loved every second of mine.

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