How Does a Greenhouse Work? Garden Tips 2024

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Whether you want one or have just seen one, a greenhouse is an amazing concept. The ability to grow whatever you want, regardless of your local climate, can really expand your growing expectations. Here is more information on how a greenhouse works and what you can plant inside of one.

How does a greenhouse work: A greenhouse will have either glass or plastic walls that allow as much sunlight in as possible. This light warms the air and creates a consistent temperature. As a result, plants grow bigger and better.

How do greenhouses actually work?

Greenhouses are all about light. The translucent material of a greenhouse allows as much light as possible to enter the structure. Then, the heat from this light stays trapped inside and converts to thermal energy.

The warm air stays in your greenhouse and more importantly, remains warm, which creates a consistent temperature for your plants. While temperatures will still fluctuate between the day and night, they will not be as severe as outside conditions.

What’s more, plants and soil will trap the heat from a greenhouse. Then, during the night, this heat is released, which helps to create a stable environment.

Advantages of a Greenhouse

Crops year-round

Creating a garden takes a lot of work and it’s quite disappointing when you can only use it for a short period of time. You can try to rotate your garden and be smart about various crops, but this can take a lot of work.

Having a greenhouse means you have a much larger growing season. Even if you can’t grow much in the winter, you can still use the spring and fall to grow your favorite fruits and vegetables.

Many areas have very short growing seasons as they need to contend with a late frost in the spring or an early cooling-off period in the fall. As a result, you can lose a lot of crops or miss their growing window.

Having a greenhouse is beneficial if you are busy and are worried about missing this window. You can allow vegetables to continue to ripen in the fall without the worry that a sudden drop in temperature will ruin all your hard work.

Higher production

No matter how good a gardener you are, there are many uncontrollable factors such as weather and insects. Gardeners should plan on losing at least 20 percent of their crops each year due to unforeseen factors.

Furthermore, if the weather isn’t perfect or you forget to water or fertilize, your plants can become stressed and not produce as much as you would like.

The controlled environment of a greenhouse drastically slashes these risks. The temperature will remain consistent and there shouldn’t be much damage from insects.

Fewer weeds

Most gardeners agree: weeds are the most annoying part of the experience. It’s incredibly frustrating to work all day and then spend hours weeding your garden, only to have to repeat the process the following week.

Greenhouses control what comes inside, and that includes seeds that become weeds. While you may have some weeds initially, if you remove them fully, you shouldn’t have to deal with more as the season continues.

Fewer pests

Pests, whether they are big or small, can be a huge problem for gardeners. Insects can quickly eat crops and diseases can spread with the wind. Even rodents and deer can get into the best-protected garden to enjoy a tasty snack.

Greenhouses prevent pests from coming inside. While there is always a chance insects can sneak in, they will not cause as much of a problem as they would outside.

Off-season production

With natural growing, everyone has the same crop ready at the same time. This means you need to eat your fill of strawberries before they are gone and you can’t really trade food with other gardeners because they will probably have the same crops as you.

Because a greenhouse has more temperature control, you can try to grow summer crops in the spring or fall. This way, you can spread out your crops and have access to fresh produce all year long.

Disadvantages of a Greenhouse

Expensive to build and maintain

Theoretically, greenhouses should save you money as you can grow fresh produce throughout the whole year and not have to buy it. However, there are a lot of hidden fees associated with the structures.

To begin with, a greenhouse can cost a lot of money to build. You can save some money if you build it yourself but if you don’t have the knowledge to do so, you will have to purchase a kit.

Then, when you do have the greenhouse built, you will need to spend more money on running a water system to it and heating it. These costs can add up and affect your bottom line.

Heater in winter

Greenhouses can only do so much and if you are trying to grow tropical plants in the winter, or even just summer crops, you may need to purchase a heater. This is especially true if you have cloudy winters as the sun won’t be able to warm up the air inside the greenhouse.

Basically, greenhouses work really well but are not miracle sheds. They work with the tools around them and you may need to aid them if you want amazing results.

Permanent structure

For the most part, greenhouses are permanent structures. They have walls that are anchored to the ground and more sophisticated setups can have water and electricity hooked up to them.

If you plan in advance, this is not a disadvantage but if you like to change things a lot in your backyard, you may not appreciate a permanent structure in a few more years.

Pollination problems

Greenhouses work best if they are sealed off. This way, the warm air stays inside and doesn’t easily cool off.

While you can open the door or even windows, it can be hard to attract pollinators into your greenhouse. As a result, you won’t be able to grow crops that depend on bees and other insects.

Crops such as pumpkins, blueberries, and cucumbers need pollinators. You can pollinate these crops by hand but it will take a lot of time and effort.

How does a greenhouse help plants grow?

Plants need a specific number of hours of sunlight to grow. If they don’t get enough sunlight, they will either produce stunted fruits and vegetables, or none at all.

Furthermore, you can’t plant crops in your garden until the soil and air reach a certain temperature. Then, in the fall, if it becomes too cold, your plants will start to die.

A greenhouse regulates these elements better. It keeps the air warmer throughout the year and whether it is glass or plastic, allows as much sunlight in as possible.

How do glass greenhouses work?


Glass greenhouses have walls and roofs that are made from glass. This allows light to penetrate the structure at all hours of the day.

While you will get more light on the days it is sunny, even when it is cloudy, there are UV rays to be found. The more glass, the easier it is for light to reach your greenhouse.


As light passes through the glass of a greenhouse, it becomes warmer. That warm air is then trapped inside the greenhouse.

During the day, plant matter and soil absorb the heat and then at night, release it. This way, the temperature stays consistent.


Plants inside a greenhouse still need water but they may need less of it. The warm air inside a greenhouse will become humid as water evaporates into the air.

However, unlike outside, where water evaporates into all the air in your yard, the moisture is still contained inside a glass greenhouse. As a result, plants are constantly exposed to moisture through the humid air, which makes the process more efficient.


One of the benefits of a glass greenhouse is that you can set up heaters for more control, especially during the winter. A glass greenhouse will not be as warm in the winter as it would in the summer, especially in more northern climates.

Having the ability to control heat and water in your glass greenhouse means better and larger crop yields.

How do plastic greenhouses work?

Plastic greenhouses work similarly to glass greenhouses but on a smaller scale. They are usually not as permanent, so if you need to you can move them or dismantle them with ease.

Plastic greenhouses will still be attached to the ground for stability but won’t be as deep in the ground. Furthermore, they are much lighter and you can roll up the sides as need be.

With a plastic greenhouse, you still get plenty of warm air that circulates inside the structure. Your plants will get the same benefits including access to consistent heat and light.


There’s a lot to think about if you want to build a greenhouse. These structures can cost a lot of money to build and maintain but if you are serious about gardening and want to have access to fresh produce throughout the year, a greenhouse can be a good investment.

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