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Freestanding Greenhouse: Pros & Cons


Freestanding Greenhouses:  Pros & Cons 

A freestanding greenhouse is just what the name implies: a structure that’s not attached to another structure. It may be a simple arch shape with no sidewall, have sidewalls just a few feet high, or have sidewalls 8-10’(2.4-3.0m) high. This is in contrast to the other common greenhouse design---the gutter-connected house—in which numerous houses, or “bays”, are connected together to create one large greenhouse.

The freestanding poly greenhouses could be built, covered, and put to use in a matter of days, compared to weeks or months for a glass-covered greenhouse. The basic uses for these greenhouses were similar, but there seemed to be a greater emphasis on using the structures for starring material from seed, such as starter plants for vegetable field crops, as well as for overwintering woody and perennial nursery crops.

The plastic greenhouses were considerably tighter than glass houses, which had laps between the panes that leaked air. The solar gain was equal to or greater than glass (even with approximately 15% less light transmission), and they held temperature much longer. These environment changes were now creating distinctly different reasons to use greenhouses for a variety of cultural applications. A whole new growing environment was available for various plant material and to traditional growers as well as the new breed of poly-greenhouse growers. 

Pros and Cons

Several major issues arise when considering whether to build freestanding greenhouses versus gutter connected structures,including landvalue and tax implications,production planning,the crop type ,the labor involved,utility costs,and time to build.

 Freestanding greenhouses still offer the lowest investment dollars per square foot of facility space. However,heating and ventilation costs can be higher, as each house needs its own heating and ventilation equipment.

 Labor and mechanization costs are usually higher in individual houses compared with gutter-connected buildings once your business approaches 1/2 acre(0.2 ha)in covered production area,as it's difficult(although not impossible)to use automation such as monorails,conveyors,or movable tables to move product.

 Freestanding houses take up more space than gutter-connected houses,as you need to leave space between each house.If useable building space on your site is at a premium,by the time the plan is properly laid out with all the required outbuildings,along with all the bells and whistles you might want inside the greenhouses,the initial benefits oflow-cost individual house may diminish compared with a gutter-connected house.  

 If you need a sophisticated level of environment control and auto mation within your greenhouse for the crop you plan to grow,for the crops you plan to grow,for example with bedding plant plugs ,you may want to consider a gutter-connected structure.  

 With freestanding houses,if you have an insect or disease problem in one house,you can easily keep the problem isolated.

 Freestanding  houses can be relocated on your prop-erty more easily than a gutter-connected house if your land-use plans change.

 Many growers have been very successful using low-cost freestanding houses for the bulk of their production.Several of the nation's largest growers,such as Harts Nursery of Jefferson, Oregon,utilize hundreds of freestanding houses to produce bedding plants. These buildings offer speed,flexibility,and few complications.