The idea of a greenhouse isn’t from the 20th or the 21st century. It goes back a couple of hundred years in Leiden, Holland. French botanist Charles Bonaparte is known to be the first man to build a complete modern greenhouse in the 1800s. Since then, it has been used all over the world, especially in the cold regions.
And it isn’t only limited to botanists nowadays. As per the American NGA, every 35 people out of 100 now use greenhouses in their backyards. To get the most out of it, you need the best backyard greenhouse.
Of course, there is no shortage of options from big glass greenhouse to small PVC glasshouses. In this article, I’ll focus on greenhouses that are catered to people with smaller spaces.
- 1 5 Best Backyard Greenhouse Reviews
- 1.1 Home-Complete HC-4202 Walk-In Greenhouse
- 1.2 Nova Microdermabrasion Mini Walk-in Greenhouse Indoor Outdoor
- 1.3 CO-Z Lean-to Greenhouse Walk-in, Portable Mini Green House
- 1.4 Gardman R687 4-Tier Mini Greenhouse
- 1.5 TOOCA Mini 4-Tier 27″ X 19″ X 63″ Portable Plant Greenhouse
- 2 What to Look for Before You Buy?
- 3 Different Designs in Greenhouses
- 4 The Material of a Greenhouse: Which One Suits You the Most?
- 5 Greenhouse Cover Material
- 6 Other Factors to Consider
5 Best Backyard Greenhouse Reviews
In this section, you’ll be getting to know, what I think, are the 5 greenhouses suited to cold climates. Check their pros and cons to see which will serve you better.
- Home-Complete HC-4202 Walk-In Greenhouse
- Nova Microdermabrasion Mini Walk-in Greenhouse
- CO-Z Lean-to Greenhouse Walk-in, Portable Mini
- Gardman R687 4-Tier Mini Greenhouse
- TOOCA Mini 4-Tier 27″ X 19″ X 63″ Portable Plant
Home-Complete HC-4202 Walk-In Greenhouse
If you don’t have a lot of room, and looking for more of a portable solution to grow your plant, then take a look at this walk-in greenhouse from Home-Complete. This is to say that, don’t expect it to deliver high performance. Here’s a short overview –
What You’re Getting
From the outside, it looks nice and simple. And it is, but it might be too simple for some. Firstly, the overall construction of the house has steel, plastic and polyvinyl chloride. The pipes are made of steel alloy, but the connector pieces are from plastic. Then, you have the PVC cover with no ventilation.
The only ventilation you have is the front zipper door. You can make some artificial pockets as some of the customers were forced to do so.
Then, there are 8 shelves to keep your plants and pots on, and these seem to be quite sturdy. You’ll also be getting zip ties to tie the shelves tightly to prevent disjointing.
In terms of actual delivery, it’s not the best, but there are worse alternatives out there. The plastic covering is durable for a couple of seasons unless there are external factors involved. Don’t expect more than 2 years out of it.
During the summer season, the inside can get very hot, as in 100°F hot. So, pick your battles wisely. I’d suggest using this only in the winter season and keeping the door open a lot in the summer.
It will get tipped over under heavy wind, but most of the time, it seemed to end up in one piece. Ground it in cement for stability.
- Steel pipes
- Durable PVC cover
- Sturdy shelves
- Easy assembly
- Plastic connectors
- Heavy wind will tip it over
Nova Microdermabrasion Mini Walk-in Greenhouse Indoor Outdoor
Here, we have the much affordable Mini walk-in outdoor indoor greenhouse from Nova Microdermabrasion. I’d say this greenhouse is for those who’re looking to start experimenting with the greenhouse culture. It’s cheap, and it does enough for a beginner.
What You’re Getting
For the price you’re paying, there are enough goodies in the package. For starters, the frame is all metal, a steel alloy. The connectors are durable plastic in usual conditions. Then the main part, i.e., protection cover, is made from Polyethylene, and it sounds as you’d expect.
This PE cover has a grating design with the gaps filled up with thinner PE. Will these be able to hold up?
There are 8 shelves in total with grated racks. These will hold your plants and pots fine; use zip ties to hold them in place.
This one, too, has no ventilation system except the front zipper door.
So, the strength of the PE cover comes into question here. In short, in uninterrupted use, it will only last one year on average. For the price, don’t expect anything more.
You can increase the longevity by taking it down every 3-4 months because the PE isn’t strong enough to withstand weather changes.
That was about the cover. How about the metal skeleton? The skeleton itself is fine, but the plastics will show their weakness during heavy wind.
And yes, it is easy to assemble as expected.
- Steel skeleton
- 8 sturdy shelves
- Continuous 1-year average longevity for the cover
- Plastic connectors
CO-Z Lean-to Greenhouse Walk-in, Portable Mini Green House
This is a much smaller greenhouse than the previous two with a similar build, but I think it has a better design overall. It’s as affordable as they come and with the promise of delivering.
What You’re Getting
The overall design of this greenhouse is what I like about it the most. It’s a ‘lean-to’ shaped tent, so it’s easier to attach it to some stronger construction like your house.
One side is completely straight, and that is the ‘leaning’ side, and the other side is curved. This curvature is something to appreciate because of how it endures wind better.
Next, you have the Polyethylene cover with a kind of mesh design. But the mesh itself isn’t porous, and the holes are filled with thinner PE material. It’s waterproof and obviously UV-proof. The door is the only ventilation.
The number of shelves in this tent is 3. You’re getting only one rack, which is understandable due to the smaller size. Zip ties are given to tightening the joints.
How does it perform? Well, it performs as it should at the given price range. The skeleton itself is durable enough as it’s steel construction. But plastics are always a weak point.
These types of PE covers have a weakness with longevity. The PE material inside the mesh doesn’t last more than a year. It just simply falls off. So, you’ll need a replacement cover unless you dismantle it every 4 months or every season.
It can get hot during summer depending on where you live. So, make sure to check it up.
- Lean-to design
- Curvature holds up against the wind
- Steel pipes
- Lightweight and portable
- The cover has short longevity
- Plastic joints
Gardman R687 4-Tier Mini Greenhouse
The urge to grow plants and flowers can be tough to satiate if you have no space in your house, let alone have a yard. But that can be solved with a 2 feet wide greenhouse. This mini greenhouse from Gardman is small enough to fit on your balcony.
What You’re Getting
First of all, this isn’t a walk-in greenhouse. It’s only 27-inches wide, 18-inches deep, and 6-feet long. The structure is maintained through a selection of steel pipes colored in black. And during assembly, it uses plastic connectors to hold it in place.
The cover is a clear Polyethylene cover, and it’s UV-resistant and waterproof. In terms of durability, it isn’t something that will blow your mind.
You’ll access the inside through the roll-on zippered door at the front, and it’s also the only ventilation pathway.
About shelf space, there are 4 shelves, all with the same dimensions as the tent’s width and depth. These are durable wire shelves.
When you weigh its performance, keep its low price point in consideration.
In usual conditions, you don’t have to worry about its structural integrity. Light winds are not its enemy. A bit more windy weather will topple it over if you don’t ground it. Plastic connectors will not be able to hold it in one piece, so there’s that.
Then, the PE cover is strong enough to withstand the weather changes throughout the year. It lets in natural light more than PVC. You can expect 1 year of perfect service.
Keep the door open in summer unless you want your plants to die.
- Doesn’t need too much space
- Durable in normal conditions
- Perfect for beginners
- Easy setup
- Strong winds will destroy it
TOOCA Mini 4-Tier 27″ X 19″ X 63″ Portable Plant Greenhouse
For those who have very little space to work with, this TOOCA mini portable greenhouse is a good option. In terms of size and price, it’s exactly the same as the previous one but with better materials.
What You’re Getting
The frame of this tent/house is made from steel, and it’s sprayed with anti-rust and anti-corrosion coating. It’s going to take more than some rain to weaken it. I’d have liked the connectors to be not plastic, but at this price, you can’t complain.
To protect your plants, it uses a PVC cover, which is more durable than PE material. But it’s a bit less translucent than PE. It’s bug-proof, waterproof, and UV-proof. For accessing the inside, it has a roll-on zippered door. No extra ventilation is in place.
Portability becomes much easier as it weighs very little with a dimension of 27-inches in width, 19-inches in depth, and 6-feet in length.
As the standard for these types of greenhouses, it has 4 shelves in total. These shelves can tolerate up to 11lbs of the load.
It performs as you’d expect, nothing too out of the ordinary. The steel frame holds its own pretty well even after light duress from the wind. Tie to a wall to increase longevity.
The PVC cover is stronger than a PE material, so your plants will be safe for more than a year. Then, it may start to show signs of wear.
- Value product
- Durable PVC cover
- Steel frame
- Lightweight and portable
- Requires small space
- Needs support as it’s not durable on its own
- Limited space
What to Look for Before You Buy?
The days of commercial-only greenhouses are over. People are coming up with different backyard greenhouse plans all over the world.
With this in mind, the corporate people have brought forward loads of products. Are they all good enough? You can’t just do a lottery and choose one. So, how do you choose the best outdoor greenhouse? There are factors to consider before buying a greenhouse.
As I said, there are lots of options in the market. So, the first thing to ask yourself, “What am I going to do with a greenhouse?”
If you’re a pro, you need a different type of greenhouse than someone who’s only contemplating the idea. Keeping this in mind, here are the main types of greenhouses and inside environments,
This is for amateurs. These are simple and fun to build that doesn’t take up a lot of space. It could be a fun little project with your kids. Even if you don’t succeed, you are not losing much.
These are great ways to store and culture new plants as well as storing crops during winter! These can be used in three ways, such as,
Although these have a different name, these cool greenhouses are small to medium in size and quite affordable. The main characteristic of it is that the temperature is kept in the range of 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit. People generally use them as nursery greenhouse to grow starter vegetables and plants during winter.
Again, these starter greenhouses are used for different purposes. You’ll keep a temperature of 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit in this greenhouse. And this range allows you to grow your normal outdoor flower and vegetable you’d grow during summer.
Here, the temperature is kept between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. The intention is clear; it is to grow tropical plants and exotic fruits. Temperature is maintained through heaters and grow lights.
Different Designs in Greenhouses
Now, greenhouses can be of different shapes and designs as well. For example,
Free Standing Greenhouses
This type of greenhouses is made to stay tall without any external support. Sometimes, though, people use strings to ground them in place for stabilization. They generally have 4 corners and a curved or corner roof. These tents get the sunlight directly. Let’s learn How Much Sun Does a Greenhouse Need?
The lean-to type of greenhouses has a design that has one straight side and a curved side. You’ll need to attach the straight side with a wall to give it stability. It’s very weak on its own. Attaching it to your house’s back wall is a good idea. It doesn’t take up much space.
These do receive less direct sunlight due to the attachment to the wall.
Octagonal/hexagonal greenhouses have 8/6 corners; that was obvious. These generally come in much stronger and bigger frames than the freestanding and lean-to houses.
So, you can’t put this type in a starter category. I’ll be honest; for backyard purposes, this isn’t a good fit. They are more like the centerpiece of a big garden, as we saw in the movie Harry Potter.
The Material of a Greenhouse: Which One Suits You the Most?
There are mainly two parts to a basic backyard greenhouse: the frame and the covering.
In terms of frame material, you have three choices overall.
I’ll be blunt here. For starters, metal is the best option. It’s the cheapest option, which is also strong and durable. Yes, it’s heavier, and that’s a point in your favor.
Unless a big storm passes, it won’t lose its shape. They come in various colors and are almost always sprayed with anti-rust coating. And that reduces the maintenance hassle you may be thinking of.
Greenhouses with aluminum frames are much lighter, and that makes their portability a big plus. But there’s the high cost of aluminum. Seemingly, it does let in more light due to its finer structure. I reckon it’d be a hefty investment for beginners.
This is for the pros. Wooden frames are regarded as the best and more preferable method to build a greenhouse. No argument there, but it’s a high cost and high maintenance option. It’s also the heaviest and hence the strongest option. I know most of you would be dreaming of having one.
But it isn’t sold as a package, especially online. Gain a bit more experience and get more space for this to happen.
Greenhouse Cover Material
Now, regarding the covering to be used as protection and also as insulation, there are quite a few choices. But I’ll focus on beginner-friendly starter options here, and these are all UV-proof and waterproof.
PVC or Polyvinyl chloride is the most used material in starter greenhouse covers. There are mainly two reasons; low cost and durability.
This material doesn’t cost much, and it can be recycled back. And they last 5 years in the outside environment on average. This is a good period for someone to get their foothold in the greenhouse culture.
I don’t prefer Polyethylene as it doesn’t dissolve easily. Nonetheless, this is a good cover material for a greenhouse. Although it is 5% less strong compared to PVC, it’s still durable enough to last 2 years on average.
Both PVC and Polyethylene are more preferable due to their simplicity. It makes assembling the greenhouses easy and swift, unlike the options below.
That being said, these aren’t UV-protected, meaning with time, UV rays will break the structure. You’ll need a replacement.
Completely shatterproof safety glass could be your budget-friendly premium option. It doesn’t degrade under UV light. And it’s safe for children.
If you have the budget, you can go for an acrylic cover. Maybe it could be your replacement cover when the PVC/PE cover breaks down. These are much more expensive than polymer options. Cost-wise, this falls between Polycarbonate and Styrene.
Styrene is quite strong, almost two times to safety glass. It’s the cheapest plastic glazing solution but still more expensive than your friendly PVC/PE options.
Other Factors to Consider
Apart from environmental and structural factors, there are factors like ventilation, insulation, etc., that you’ll have to consider before setting up.
The clarity of your greenhouse cover can matter, especially for sunlight. Opaque or diffused covers let in less light than a clear see-through cover. PVC is more on the opaque and translucent side as opposed to Polyethylene.
Glass and acrylic can be of both types depending on the construction. Of course, the better option is to have a clear cover unless you want to control the temperature inside.
Your plants need to breathe. But also it needs to be warm during winter. To manage this, you need a good ventilation plan. Unfortunately, mini greenhouses don’t have separate windows for ventilation. The zipper doors are the only way to let air in. So, you’ll have to maintain a schedule.
You can customize and make little windows on the sides to let in air.
In the colder regions, insulation will be a must during winter. If your cover isn’t enough, you can use a second cover and put insulation between them. A good and cheap insulator is bubble wraps.
Also, in some garden centers, they have UV-stabilized Polyethylene bubble wraps. Two layers of Polyethylene are better than glass in terms of insulation.
All cover material will protect your plants from UV rays. But what will protect them from UV rays? Some of the more expensive materials, such as glass, polycarbonate, or styrene, are not damaged by UV rays. But PVC and PE are prone to damage.
You can use light acrylic color or latex paint to spray on the PVC/PE cover. It’ll significantly increase their UV-resistance.
Also check Best Place to Put a Greenhouse
As you’ve seen from the reviews, there is much to appreciate about mini greenhouses with very few hiccups. Of course, glass greenhouses are the optimal way to go. But if you haven’t got much space inside or outside your house, these are your best bet at growing plants and producing flowers and vegetables.
Those who are starting out in their greenhouse journey shouldn’t break a sweat over choosing the best backyard greenhouse. Start small and affordable. Take any of the greenhouses from the shortlist above, and you won’t regret it.