2. Buyers Guide - Choosing a greenhouse size and style
A greenhouse is impossible to select and price up until you know the width and length of your site. When measuring your site don't be tempted to squeeze a quart into a pint pot! Remember to leave sufficient space around the perimeter of the greenhouse base, to allow you access for cleaning or to position and access water butts. An ideal minimum space would be for you to fit down – e.g., to replace a pain of glass.
Understand the standard dimensions of greenhouses
It is important to note at this point, that the actual size of a greenhouse is larger than the nominal size stated. A 6’ wide greenhouse is more likely to be 6’3”. To obtain the actual width and length of any greenhouse in this guide, please use the metric measurements (expressed in millimetres) found in the tables presented for each greenhouse.
The most important measurement is the width - traditional greenhouse styles (see below) generally offer a choice of nominal widths, in 2' increments e.g. 4', 6', 8', 10' etc.
The length of the greenhouse can then be specified to fit into the site you have measured. Again, traditional greenhouses are available in multiples of 2' lengths e.g. 4', 6', 8', 10' etc.
A similar principle applies to lean-to greenhouse styles, although you'll find a slightly more restricted choice of widths and lengths.
What size greenhouse do I need?
The answer to this largely depends on how much growing you are planning to do, and to a lesser extent how much storage space you will need within your greenhouse. However, most gardeners know that the most common complaint about greenhouses is that they are too small! We therefore advise you to choose the biggest greenhouse you can accommodate in your garden and that you can afford. If you were thinking of buying a 6'by 8', for example, but you have the space and budget, consider upgrading to a 6'by 10’. You’ll be amazed at the difference in usable space this will give you!
Why not consider increasing the width to 8’? Bigger greenhouses typically offer better value for money, and an 8’x10’ often costs only 10% more than a 6’x10’. No matter the size of greenhouse you choose, you can increase your growing and storage capacity by the clever use of staging, and the wider your greenhouse, the deeper staging you can use.
What styles of greenhouse are available?
Essentially, there are three distinct greenhouse styles available to choose from: Traditional, Lean-to or Octagonal, and each are available in both aluminium or timber.
The traditional, or freestanding greenhouse, is the UK's most popular style. Because they are available in so many sizes (i.e. many widths and various lengths) it's likely that you'll find a suitable space in your garden to site one.
An octagonal style of greenhouse makes a delightful garden feature, that is still practical for housing your seedlings and plants when optional shelving sections are added. The staging in an Octagonal model tends to go all around, so whilst there is less space, there is also less wasted space used up by a path.
The lean-to style takes advantage of an existing wall, for example a south facing house or garage wall. A big advantage of a lean-to is that the wall itself acts as a storage heater by releasing the stored warmth of the sun into the greenhouse during the night, so creating a good growing environment. They also have the added benefit of being more accessible to electricity and water supplies.
To add further style to your greenhouse, why not consider upgrading from plain, silver aluminium, to an eye-catching, coloured, powder-coated finish. Over the past ten years there has been a real change in the greenhouse market. In the 'old days', greenhouses were often considered an eyesore and were hidden away at the bottom of the garden! With the introduction of powder coating technology that has all changed, enabling a range of coloured finishes to be applied to the bare aluminium greenhouse frame.
Robinsons greenhouses can now be supplied in the colour of your choice, from the above contemporary selection, and can make your greenhouse a really special feature of your garden. Simplicity models have the option of coming in Old Cottage Green, to complement your garden.
Compared to conventional "wet" paints, powder coating is a relatively new technology, that provides a vastly superior finish when applied to metals. The entire aluminium greenhouse frame goes through a 5 stage chemical pre-treatment process. This cleans the metal of grease etc. and provides a chemical 'key' that helps the powder to stick. The bars are then individually hung onto jigs and sprayed with a dry powder of the required colour. The powder is charged with an electro-static charge and this results in the powder clinging to the aluminium. The bars are then baked in an oven at around 200 degrees Celsius.
This process ensures that you will never have to re-paint your greenhouse. All powder coating is guaranteed for 10 years but should last a lifetime.
New Victorian style greenhouses are more of a focal point in your garden. They each have an expansive 45° pitch roof, and a number of models have a porch designed into the frame and are reminiscent of old Victorian orangeries. All of the models in this range share the same attractive strengthening features, in the form of spandrels at the ridge and the eaves. Cast in solid aluminium, they are powder-coated in the same colour as the greenhouse frame itself. Optional ornate cresting and finials add the finishing touch. These are definitely not greenhouses to hide away at the bottom of your garden.