If you’re like many gardeners, your homesteading dreams aren’t complete without a backyard greenhouse, bursting with fruits, veggies, herbs, perennials, and flowers. But is the effort and cost of building and maintaining a greenhouse really worth it?
Let’s look at that dream of a bountiful year-round harvest and see if it matches up with the realities of owning a backyard greenhouse.
Is Owning a Backyard Greenhouse Worth It?
There are plenty of reasons to have a greenhouse, but the most enticing has to be the ability to grow a bunch of your own produce in the manner of your choosing. Speaking of choosing, which type of greenhouse is right for you?
Grow More Plants, Have More Fun
Every season is growing season when you have a greenhouse in your backyard.
For many gardeners, extending the gardening seasons and discovering new varieties of plants is worth any disadvantage a greenhouse might bring. That’s the whole reason you’ve been daydreaming about a home greenhouse, right?
Not only will you grow more crops, you’ll be able to enjoy gardening every day of the year. Your greenhouse can become a cozy, relaxing haven for you in winter months and a seed-starting paradise in the early spring.
To decide whether your yield will be worth the effort and cost of a greenhouse in your backyard, you really need to know your climate. Start looking into what plants you could grow in your greenhouse and reflecting on how satisfied you are with your current outdoor growing seasons.
Do you want to build your backyard greenhouse DIY style? It’s a great way to save a little money as you can aggressively up-cycle!
Pest and Disease Control
No deer, rabbits, or squirrels in a greenhouse! And since you control the environment, you can make sure airflow, temperature, and humidity are perfect to keep bugs and disease away from your plants.
Using a personal greenhouse over a community garden can greatly increase the space for plant-growing activities by using shelves, containers, and other vertical growing tools. Check out our guide on Vertical Greenhouse Gardening for more ideas.
To be sure, the initial cost of building a backyard greenhouse can be daunting. You’ll likely need to spend a huge chunk of change on buying, building, or installing your greenhouse.
And it’s not simply the materials for panes and the frame you need to think about. Consider all the gadgets, lights, fans, and other appliances that go along with a greenhouse.
How much does a greenhouse cost? Read this guide to find out.
Even after the cost of building and setting up your home greenhouse, you need to factor in continuous operating expenses. While they may not be as high as initial building costs, remember that your utility bills will go up and things will break within your greenhouse. Expect to keep investing in that greenhouse long after it has been built.
I could go on and on about unexpected costs of greenhouses—and, in fact, I did go on about it in our Complete Guide to Greenhouses article! Take a look before you dive into greenhouse ownership.
Attention, Maintenance, and Frustration
Maintaining the proper climate for our plants doesn’t just take money, it takes energy and attention from you!
While you’re probably used to the attention your outdoor garden needs, a greenhouse requires all those chores and then some. Unlike an outdoor garden, in which Mother Nature controls the climate, you create the weather in a greenhouse.
In winter, you’ll most like need some sort of heating system or at least a heat-storing system. In some climates, you’ll also need a cooling system for hot summer months. Take a look at our full exploration of Greenhouse Cooling and Ventilation for more info.
Monitoring temperature, humidity, and airflow takes skill and focus, as well as keeping the house clean and maintaining appliances. If you’re the kind of person who gets easily frustrated with mechanical work, cleaning chores, or appliances instructions, a self-maintained greenhouse may not be for you.
Of course, many of these tasks can be made easier by investing in automated devices like thermostat-linked fans and heaters, automatic vent openers, and the like.
Easy Spread of Bugs and Disease
While the controlled environment of a greenhouse does help control some pests and diseases, a walled-off environment creates a hotbed for “contagions. (A topic we humans now know all too much about.)
It will require some extra vigilance to ensure that any disease that pops up in your greenhouse doesn’t spread.
Not all plants are self-pollinating. Even in a greenhouse, self-pollinators generally don’t need any help getting fertilized in order to produce fruit. But cross-pollinating plants need pollinators like bugs and birds in order to grow fruit.
If you’re growing a cross-pollinating plant in your greenhouse, you’ll have to do the deed by hand.
Even if you are growing only self-pollinators (like tomatoes), building a sufficient greenhouse airflow system with fans and vents is important for successful pollination.
So, What’s The Point?
The most obvious advantage of owning a greenhouse is the ability to keep your garden going year-round and to grow crops that you may not be able to cultivate in your climate without a greenhouse.
That in itself is an advantage, but if you’re growing food, you can even save money on grocery bills by growing your own greenhouse produce, herbs, and flowers.
Greenhouse vegetable plants indeed tend to grow faster. But do they grow stronger, better, and more productively?
That all depends on the environment and how you treat them. Just like your outdoor garden, there are so many factors that help you plants become hardy and prolific. Growing in a greenhouse requires you to create and monitor all of those factors—whereas outdoors, nature can do some of that for you.
Many gardeners yearn for a life that relies less on commercial products, produces less waste, and is more tied to a local lifestyle. A backyard greenhouse can be the perfect step toward that homestead-y life you’ve been dreaming of. Not only will you grow more of your own food, but you’ll likely learn a lot about building, climate, and even mechanics.
While the initial cost may be great, the benefit and joy of having a functional greenhouse are worth it for many backyard gardeners and homesteaders.