How To Buy The Perfect Small Garden Greenhouse
A small backyard greenhouse is the perfect addition to any serious gardener’s plan. Especially if that plan involves weather, seasons, frost, zone pushing, or growing something unique and beautiful that will make your friends jealous.
I live in zone 5. We never ever plant outside before the long-weekend the third week of May. But we start seedlings indoors in March under our grow lights. The final couple of weeks used to be a daily ritual of taking the seedling pots outside for ever increasing bouts of sun and fresh air, then bringing them back in a short while later. You may be familiar with the term “hardening”.
BUT…there’s nothing like bringing your baby tomatoes back inside and finding all many of creepy crawly spring bugs on your precious plants!
So how do you defeat an early frost, get your seedlings started and thriving, and ready to grow come planting season?
If you have a back yard, or even a large patio, you can probably find a cheap greenhouse to suit your needs. They come as kits in every conceivable shape, size, material and price range for any budget. The panels can be plastic, glass or polycarbonate, the frames can be wood, tubular plastic, or metal, and they can be permanently mounted on patio stones or disassembled in the fall to store in the shed.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Small Greenhouse:
- am I going to build it once and leave it for years or take it down in the fall?
- do I want a fancy cedar and glass high end kit or a hobby DIY project with plastic?
- how much space do I actually have for my greenhouse?
- do I want to buy it new or second hand from a for sale ad online?
- am I only going to start seeds in the spring or am I going to use it year round?
My first green house kit was a cheap plastic frame with a clear film that fit it like a skin. It was about the size of a small couch. I could carry it outside through the sliding patio doors, stake it in the grass in partial sun, then place the seedling trays in it throught the zipper like a clear tent for plants. But when it came time to do research into buying a better greenhouse, I went to all the big box stores and checked out Amazon. I dug into the ratings, read the reviews and looked at the manufacturer websites for warranty info. Here are my top 5 green house kit reviews for a typical suburban gardener with a small backyard.
If you click on each item photo below, it will open a new tab for you with more information on that greenhouse model.
Choice #1 – Spring Gardener Gable Greenhouse, 6 Feet X 8 Feet X 7 Feet
This model gives you over 40 square feet of space to start your seedlings. It comes in 2 larger models, but for most gardeners this is a brilliant choice. It has built in bug netting in the walls to keep pests out of your plants.
In direct sun it gets very hot inside the greenhouse, and the windows roll up to allow cross current air to flow to keep the temperature down. The zippered doors can be opened to increase the breeze if needed. The frame is rust resistant and assembles by hand using only wing nuts. If you’ve ever tried to assemble an IKEA couch using that stupid little wrench you’ll appreciate how great it is to build a kit without needing tools!
What I really like about this model is the weight, less than 65 pounds. Even after it’s assembled it’s so light you can move it around your back yard. The translucent plastic sheeting is UV resistant and will last for years, as will the frame.
You can add at least 1 full zone to your temperature calculation. So for me in zone 5, I can easily grow zone 6 plants in the spring. I wouldn’t try to handle anything after November in here, but the peppers can finish ripening and the Thai Roselle can still flower. Snow is not the friend of this one, so for gardeners in zone 4 and below, store it for the winter in the shed or garage.
This is a fantastic first greenhouse for a hobby gardener. A serious frost can kill a couple hundred dollars worth of roses or seedlings in the spring, making this kit a smart bargain.
Choice #2 – Palram Nature Series Mythos Hobby Greenhouse – 6 x 8 x 7 Silver
We step up in weight class with this gorgeous kit! Similar 40+ square feet of footprint to the previous one, but a huge difference in material construction. I know what you’re thinking – this one isn’t portable. It is if you look at it like moving homes. You can set this up, and you can take it down if you want. It doesn’t use a poured concrete floor or girders or rafters or any kind of permanent structure. It’s not a 15 pound tent style. It’s definitely a high end quality greenhouse but priced less than an Xbox video game.
The Palram has sturdy polycarbonate panels. No they aren’t bulletproof, but they are coated to screen out plant-damaging UV rays. The frame is made from aluminum, which is nice and light but won’t rust.
You’ll have ample headroom up to 6 ½ feet high in the center, and the footprint is nearly 50 square feet. If you add a table or some basical shelves you’ll be able to start trays and trays of assorted seedlings.
You get more gain in zone equivalence because the walls are twin layered, which keeps a bit more heat in the unit than a single layer of polycarbonate. It’s virtually shatterproof and it will help minimize scalding of your plants when the direct sunlight is above.
If you live in zone 6+ and your winters are mild, you can add a space heater in the late fall and really push your zone to grow micro greens and healthy veggies for your Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.
Choice #3 – Plastic Portable 5′ x 5′ Gardeners Greenhouse Kit by EarthCare Greenhouses
And now for something a little different. This greenhouse kit is perfect for beginner gardeners and is ideal for seniors. The footprint is designed to fit on a patio or a balcony for urban dwellers to extend the growing season. This is a top portable small greenhouse kit.
This is quick and easy to set up in the spring, and is simple to take down and store at the end of the fall. Takes 15 minutes with 1 normal person, and no fancy tools required. Of course for me that means 40 minutes and a few curse words. The only thing I hate more than cutting grass is assembling stuff.
Notice that the wire shelves are included. This fancy little feature makes this a great gift for a cottage owner or an apartment dweller who wants to start some annuals and a few veggies on their patio or porch. This is an excellent model for schools and educational gardening clubs and groups, and kids who want to learn about horticulture.
The frame is aluminium, which keeps the weight down and the green mesh rip stop walls are easy to put on.
This is a tremendous portable greenhouse especially for budget conscious gardeners!
You can qualify for a discount from the manufacturer by participating in their social media promotion. Set it up, take a few photos and be part of their greenhouse club!
Choice #4 – OGrow Deluxe Walk-In 3 Tier 6 Shelf Portable Greenhouse
This is one of the lightest portables at under 15 pounds. The footprint is 56 inches wide by 29 inches deep giving you about 10 square feet of growing space. The ceiling is over 6 feet tall so most gardeners can fit in.
The frame is steel and the clear plastic sheeting is rugged. The skin attaches to the skeleton using Velcro, and the unit then can be set on a patio or pinned to the lawn. If you live in a violently windy area this may not be your ideal unit. If you have a sheltered corner of your back garden this would be perfect.
This is the ultimate DIY greenhouse for condo dwellers with little balconies. You can get your micro-greens going, and try some veggies that can be grown from store scraps like onions.
The shelves inside the unit are built in, so you don’t need to find an old table or re-purpose a set of book shelves from a garage sale.
Some creative gardeners are using this model in their basement in the winter to keep pets out of their early seedlings. If you have a cat that thinks any dirt in the house is their dirt this can keep it from digging, pooping and tracking mud around.
For warmer zones this can keep your Boston Fern moist and covered, and for orchid growers this is perfect. It snaps together without tools, and the instruction page for assembly is a single page.
Choice #5 – Flower House FHSP300CL SpringHouse Greenhouse, Clear
This past season we started 6 pots of assorted roses for the first time. April is deadly outside in zone 5, other than the fall garlic there is nothing going on in the garden other than the first green shoots of some of the perennials. Growing temperature sensitive flowers in a 4 season environment is perfect for this model.
Flower House is a well known brand of portable greenhouse kit. This model assembles in mere minutes without the need of a big toolbox. The frame is PVC plastic and snaps together quickly.
What’s really cool is it has no floor. If you have expensive shrubs or big rooted plants you can pop this right over them! It can then be anchored to the lawn or garden using stakes. In parts of the mid-west it has snowed in late August for the past few summers! The Chinook blows in, dumps 6 inches of white stuff and then the sun comes out, killing gardens and flowers. This is a perfect protection for that.
The footprint is a square 6 foot by 6 foot and weighs less than 30 pounds. It folds down into a self-contained shoulder bag in 15 minutes. It has built in screened vents for airflow and circulation and a shade cover.
So how do you choose a small greenhouse kit, especially a portable one? Click the images above to open a new tab with detailed information, specs, shipping info, and warranties. You might qualify for a discount or financing.