Greenhouse Cost: Are They Expensive?


A greenhouse seems like a great way to expand my garden, but I’m wondering the greenhouse cost and if they are expensive. There must be other costs involved besides just the building, so I decided to take a look. 

Are Greenhouses Expensive? Yes, greenhouses can be expensive. You have the cost of the building and then any additional equipment you have to buy, so it adds up. It’s important to remember, though, that a greenhouse is a long-term investment, so despite the initial cost, it might be worth it.

Now, I’m wondering what the greenhouse cost really is. I did a little research on all the costs involved with a greenhouse so I can share it with you.

Cost of Actual Greenhouse Building

When it comes to the cost of a greenhouse structure, there can be a lot of difference. There are just about as many greenhouse choices as there are plants to put in your greenhouse. 

For starters, you can design your greenhouse from scratch or you can buy plans and then pick up the necessary supplies. Even easier than that, you can order a greenhouse that already has everything you need and you just have to put it together. 

The first thing to consider is the type of greenhouse you want. Most home gardeners have either an attached greenhouse or a freestanding one.

An attached greenhouse is also known as a lean-to. A freestanding one is just as it says; it stands alone.  Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each type.

Type of GreenhouseProsCons
Lean-toPlaced against buildingOne sturdy wall in placeLess expensiveLimited sunlightLess space
FreestandingCan place it anywhereMore spaceMore expensive initially

You have some variety when it comes to choices with a lean-to, but mostly just what material frame and covering you want. Since it shares a wall with another building, you don’t have much freedom with design or size choice. This might make your life easier without having hundreds of options to choose from.

A lean-to is a great, low maintenance, affordable option if your budget is tight. You’ll also see some benefits in your house with it being so close. It can basically function as a greenhouse and a sunroom.

Here’s a look at some of the lean-to options available on Amazon. 

GreenhousePrice
CO-Z Lean-to Greenhouse Walk-in, Mini Green House$75.99Check Price on Amazon
Palram Hybrid Lean Greenhouse$646.39Check Price on Amazon
OGrow Aluminum Lean-to Greenhouse$391.97Check Price on Amazon

Co-Z Lean-to Greenhouse: As you can see from the price, this lean-to is the bare minimum. It’s made of steel, just over 3-feet long and about 6 1/2-feet wide. It has a zippered, roll-up entrance rather than a door and a basic greenhouse plastic covering. It does come with garden shelves, which is a nice added benefit.

Palram Hybrid Lean Greenhouse: This greenhouse costs considerably more, but has some added benefits with that price. It’s 4-feet by 8-feet and made of aluminum. It’s polycarbonate panels are thicker and allow for 90-percent light transmission. It also has an adjustable roof vent to help with ventilation and integrated rain gutters. 

OGrow Aluminum Lean-to Greenhouse: This middle of the road greenhouse is 6-feet by 4-feet and made of aluminum. The frame is coated to help prevent rust. This greenhouse also has a roof vent and a sliding door.

If you’re choosing a freestanding greenhouse, there are a lot more options as far as size. Figure out the best location for your greenhouse, how much space you have and your budget, then check things out. Here’s a look at some options.

GreenhousePrice
Palram Hybrid Hobby Greenhouse$603.58Check Price on Amazon
Giantex Walk-in Greenhouse Plant Growing Tent$315.99Check Price on Amazon
Mini Walk-in Greenhouse$49.99Check Price on Amazon
Best Choice Products Walk- in Tunnel Greenhouse$124.99Check Price on Amazon
Palram Snap & Grow Greenhouse$1,334.95Check Price on Amazon

Palram Hybrid Hobby Greenhouse: This freestanding greenhouse is 6 by 8-feet and made of aluminum. The panels block almost 100-percent of UV rays and diffuse the sunlight that enters the greenhouse. This helps prevent sunburn on your plants. 

It also comes with plant hangers, a roof vent, rain gutters, and lockable door handle. 

Giantex Walk-in Greenhouse Plant Growing Tent: This greenhouse, at half the price, is the same size and frame material. The panels for the covering are thinner but still offer UV protection.

This greenhouse also has a roof vent, rain gutters, and a door.

Mini Walk-in Greenhouse: This greenhouse is smaller than the others, but at 50 bucks can’t be beat if you’re on a budget. It’s just under 5 by 5-feet and made of steel. You can actually put this greenhouse together without any tools. 

Best Choice Products Walk-in Tunnel Greenhouse: This steel tunnel design is 15-feet long and 7-feet wide. It has a zippered door, but also eight roll-up windows. These windows help with ventilation, which is critical for a well-functioning greenhouse.

Palram Snap & Grow Greenhouse: This large 6 by 16-foot aluminum greenhouse costs a pretty penny, but gives you plenty of growing space. It comes with a roof vent, rain gutters, and a lockable door. 

Because it’s a snap and grow greenhouse, you won’t need many tools to put it together. The frame snaps together and the panels slide and lock into place.

If you’re designing your own greenhouse from the ground up, the cost will vary depending on which materials you choose to work with. 

I’m sure you are overwhelmed with all the choices, but here are a few more to think about. Greenhouse frames are generally made from steel, aluminum, wood, and sometimes plastic. There are pros and cons to each of the choices.

Plastic is probably the most affordable of the four, but it’s not very strong, so you would be super limited in your choices for covering. There’s also a good possibility it will blow over in strong winds or collapse under heavy snow, so depending on your climate, it might be out of the question.

Wood is probably a middle of the road choice price wise for a greenhouse frame. Don’t just go with the cheapest wood to save money, though. A cheap wood will decay over time. Naturally resistant hardwoods like cedar, redwood, or cypress are your best bets. Wood also is a good insulator and easy to work with.

Steel and aluminum frames cost a bit more but are probably the sturdiest material for your frame.  The downside of this material is that they allow for more heat loss. They’re also not as nice to look at as wood.

Finally, you have to consider the cost of your covering if you’re building your greenhouse yourself. Once again, there are pros and cons to each choice. 

Obviously, the most important factor is that your cover is transparent so sunlight reaches your plants. Here’s a look at four common materials and what it would cost for 48 square feet of the material.

MaterialCost per sq ftTotal cost for 48 sq ft
Glass$2.50$120
Polyethylene (plastic)$.12$5.76
Fiberglass$1.50$72
Polycarbonate (similar to glass)$1.71$82.50

Another factor to consider with your greenhouse is the need for flooring. You can leave a dirt floor, but be prepared for a muddy mess the first time you water. A better idea is to use concrete, pavers, or gravel. Here’s a look at the additional cost to lay floor for a 6 by 8-foot greenhouse.

Ground MaterialAverage Cost per Sq. Ft.Total Cost for 6X8 ft
Concrete$10/sq ft$480
Pavers$8-11/sq ft$384-$528
Gravel$.75-3/sq ft$36-$144

As you can see, the cost of the actual greenhouse varies by hundreds of dollars. How much you spend depends on a number of different factors. These are the things you should think about.

  • Type of greenhouse you need
  • Materials desired
  • Your budget
  • Amount of growing space desired
  • Appearance of greenhouse

Cost of Additional Systems for Climate Control

Once your greenhouse is built, you’re not done with the initial investment. No matter what time of year it is or the current climate when you build, you’ll need a ventilation system.

A ventilation system helps control the temperature and humidity, but it also serves a vital purpose in circulating air and providing the necessary carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. This is when plants use the sun’s heat energy to turn carbon dioxide and water into sugar, which they use to grow.

You can choose a natural ventilation system or a mechanical system. Here’s a look at some considerations for each type.

Natural Ventilation SystemMechanical Ventilation System
Initial cost for installation cost-free after installation more time investment requires best for small or very large greenhousesInitial cost for parts and installation electrical costs after installations time investment best for medium greenhouses

A natural ventilation system uses vents at the roof to remove hot air and vents in the side to pull in cool air. 

You can save money and install these vents yourself by cutting or removing panels. It’s important to make sure that the area of the roof and side vents each is equal to 20-percent of your greenhouse’s total area. 

If you’re not very handy, it’s an easy enough job for a handyman. The hourly rate for labor depends on where you live, but the national average is between $60 and $65.

There is a way to save on the time investment of opening and closing vents by buying a solar-powered vent opener. It automatically opens a vent when paraffin wax inside the device expands due to a rise in temperature. 

This one on Amazon is less than $30. (Check Price)

A mechanical ventilation system uses an exhaust fan at the roof of your greenhouse to push warm air out and special openings opposite the exhaust fan to pull cooler air into your greenhouse. 

The cost of your equipment depends on the size of your greenhouse. Exhaust fans are rated for how many feet of cubic air they move per minute (CFM). You’ll want a fan that changes air once a minute during the summer.

To calculate which rating you need, you’ll need to determine the volume of your greenhouse. Volume is length times width times height. Here’s a look at how much equipment is depending on the fan rating. 

RatingCost
1,400 CFM$149.98Check Price on Amazon
1,750 CFM$132.41Check Price on Amazon
2,473 CFM$119.99Check Price on Amazon
3,000 CF$208.48Check Price on Amazon

Like the natural ventilation system, you can choose to install your equipment by yourself; otherwise, you’ll have to pay a handyman. If you have to run any wires, you’ll need an electrician as well, which will cost you anywhere between $50 and $100 per hour.

Once you have your ventilation system, you need to figure out if you’ll need additional heating and cooling equipment. 

You don’t have to add this equipment right away depending on the current temperature where you live. You want to keep your greenhouse between 80 and 85 degrees, though. 

Options to heat your greenhouse include water barrels, coverings for your plants, an electrical heater, and compost.

Water barrels: A 55-gallon water barrel painted black and filled with water then put in your greenhouse can warm up the temperature. It collects heat during the day and then puts it off at night. These barrels are around $75 on Amazon. (Check Price)

A cheaper alternative is to save some gallon milk cartons, paint them black and fill them three-quarters full of water. You’ll need enough to place all around the greenhouse.

Coverings for your plants: You can cover your plants with a tarp or special plant cover to help them keep in their temperature. 

You can find an 8 by 10-foot tarp on Amazon for 10 bucks. (Check Price

Here’s an 8 by 24-foot plant cover for less than $15 on Amazon. (Check Price)

Electric Heater: An electric heater can help warm up your greenhouse. One with a thermostat, fan speeds and auto shut off is your best choice. 

Here’s one on Amazon for under $50. (Check Price)

Compost: Many gardeners use compost as plant fertilizer, but it can also warm your greenhouse, too. When it’s laid in a trench or pit in the middle of the greenhouse, it puts off heat as it breaks down.

You can get a 40-pound bag of compost for under $30 on Amazon. (Check Price)

 When it comes to cooling down your greenhouse, you also have a few options. The cost of them depends on which you choose. Shade cloth, misters, an evaporative cooler, and a portable air conditioning unit are all options.

Shade cloth: Shade cloth is probably your most affordable cooling option. You can get a 10 by 20-foot shade cloth on Amazon for around 30 bucks. (Check Price) The price may vary a bit depending on the density you need, but not much.

Misters: Installing misters in the greenhouse also lowers the temperature a few degrees. A 33-foot line of misters is around $25 on Amazon (Check Price)

Evaporative cooler: This option costs a bit more than the other two choices but is pretty effective is cooling things down. It’s especially useful in areas with less than 60 percent humidity. Amazon has a pretty good-sized one for $362 (Check Price).

Portable air conditioning unit: An AC unit uses more electricity than the cooler but is still an option. Here’s one on Amazon for just under $400. (Check Price)

All the options I mentioned will do the job. If you’re trying to keep your budget down, consider the more affordable options or even a combination of a couple more affordable options.

Keep in mind, with any of the electrical options like the heater or air conditioner, you also have added costs anytime you run the equipment.

Cost of Additional Design Materials

You probably thought there couldn’t possibly be any other costs associated with a greenhouse, but you can’t forget about all the little things. Without benches, shelves, hooks, pots, soil, tools, and plants, you don’t have much of a greenhouse.

These accessories may seem small, but don’t cut corners to save money, they all play an important role in a well-run greenhouse. 

Benches, shelves, and hooks open up more floor space for other plants. You can also store tools under benches and pots on shelves. These options really help maximize what you can do in your greenhouse.

The other pots, soils, tools, and plants are sort of essential to a greenhouse.

The amount you spend on these items depends on how much of each you want, but here’s a look at some of the prices on Amazon.

AccessoryPrice
Benches$79.99Check Price on Amazon
Shelves$41.99Check Price on Amazon
Hooks$8.68/10 hooksCheck Price on Amazon
Pots$24.75/48 potsCheck Price on Amazon
Soil$7.99/6 quartsCheck Price on Amazon
Tools$36.99Check Price on Amazon
Seed packetsVaries depending on seedCheck Price on Amazon

As you can probably see now, some may consider a greenhouse expensive. If you start small, you can probably save money, but most likely, you’ll want it bigger later and end up spending the money anyway.

Keep in mind, also, that a greenhouse might be an investment initially, but once it’s up and running, there isn’t much cost involved. You’ll also reap the fruits of your labor, homegrown vegetables, herbs, and beautiful flowers.

Eyerly Family

The Eyerly Family is a family of 8 that loves gardening. Over the past several years we have been applying what we learn about gardening to our own 16x16 raised back yard garden. Our garden is very prolific and we grow a wide variety of vegetables which we love to eat! Click here to learn more about the Eyerly Family.

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