Obviously, the cost of a greenhouse depends primarily upon its size, The simplest method of comparing the costs of different makes is to divide the priceofeachby its floor area, which will give you the cost per square foot or metre. But other factors will determine whether you are getting the best value for your money.
Your calculations as to the size of greenhouse required should be based on the types of plants you intend to grow, the amount of time you can spare for this work, the space available in your garden, and, of course, the amount of money you are prepared to spend. When calculating the fioor area needed, bear in mind that the nett area can be increased if the greenhouse lias provision for shelves to be fitted, but that the area will he decreased by the amount of space you will have to allow tor pathways, internal supports, and other obstructions. In this connection, bear in mind that long, narrow greenhouses need a relatively higher proportion of floor area devoted to paths, while circular or polygonal greenhouses may present difficulties in the spacing and tending ol crops.
The basic advertised price of a greenhouse does not necessarily tell the whole story about costs: there are often 'hidden' extras. The most important of these concerns the foundations. Many manufacturers offer a base for their greenhouses, but it usually costs extra. In some cases a concrete or brick base will need to be constructed and the cost of this, too, must be calculated. If is important to build foundations at least to tlie minimum specification re commended by the greenhouse manufacturer. Neglect to do this may later result in a large number of broken panes of glass or, at worst, the possibility of the greenhouse shifting in strong winds.
The cost of extras should also be calculated and the different types compared for quality and design. Some manufacturers offer greenhouse benching which is free standing and easily erected and dismantled. Others offer staging of a more robust design fixed to the greenhouse itself and intended to be more or less permanent. Neither alternative is better than the other: your choice will depend 011 the use to which you intend to put your greenhouse, although removable benching is obviously an advantage if you are contemplating mixed cropping programmes using benching and borders.
I have already mentioned the use of shelving, and this can be invaluable in springtime when most greenhouses are bulging with young plants. However it is unwise to fit shelving either to the side wall or suspended from the glazing bars unless this is recommended by the greenhouse manufacturer; otherwise the wreight of a shelf-full of plants in pots and boxes, which can be considerable, may distort the frame. The best shelving is both robust and light
Established plants make a fine display Ihts li-an to conservatory in weight but is also rather expensive.
Last, but not least, it is important to know how easily the greenhouse can be erected, as help with erection may be charged for. Greenhouses of aluminium alloy usually bolt together in a straightforward manner, and most gardeners will have little difficulty assembling them. Greenhouses of wood are likely to have heavier sections and assembly may be more complicated, especially when it comes to fitting doors and ventilators. The system of glazing will possibly determine whether erecting the greenhouse is within the capacity of the gardener or whether .1 specialist builder will need to be employed.
Finally, consider likely maintenance costs over periods of, say, five and ten years. With alloy-framed structures erected according to the manufacturer's directions, maintenance should be negligible. With wooden greenhouses of softwood it would be wise to calculate on repainting the exterior every four to five years and the interior every five to six years. In the case of greenhouses built of western red cedar, allow for treatment every two to three years.
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