Category Archives: Greenhouse Information

Greenhouses can mean more heat, more shade, supplemental lights, insect screens, etc. But let’s look at some common-sense approaches and deciding factors one can use in basic site planning.

How to Design Your Greenhouse to Your Climate

How to Design Your Greenhouse for Your Climate Gothic Arch Greenhouse Greenhouse for Dry Climate Greenhouses forGreenhouse design is definitely not one-size-fits-all. What’s best suited for a cold climate characterized by low sunlight and a lot of snowfall isn’t effective for a tropical climate marked by periods of high heat, humidity and varying light levels.

By understanding their local climate, gardeners and commercial growers of any size can make fundamental decisions about their greenhouse setup. Doing so will allow their plants to thrive and also extend their growing season.

Because a greenhouse provides protection from external elements, determining how the weather and climate in your area affects your plants is essential. Ultimately, the design of the structure is influenced by whether it is shielding them from wind, rain, heat, snow, etc.  

Whether you’re considering a new greenhouse or want to optimize an existing one, these design suggestions—based on the four major climate types—will help you maximize production year after year. 

Greenhouses for Dry Tropical or Desert Climates

For climates marked by extremely high temperatures (well over 100°F year round), low humidity and high winds, a minimalist greenhouse design works best. A simple shade structure using insect screen as sidewall protection is the most practical option to manage costs. A misting or fogging system can help increase humidity inside the greenhouse, while also helping to reduce temperatures well below the arid conditions outside. This economical design can be upgraded to include automated cooling systems for even more control over the greenhouse climate.

Greenhouses for Humid Subtropical Climates

Hot, muggy conditions day and night, coupled with heavy rains, require flexible greenhouse designs, as simple as a plastic roof with roll-up sides covered with insect mesh for protection against pests or a more substantial greenhouse that can withstand higher winds and scorching sunny days. Even larger greenhouses may feature open-roof construction to allow for natural ventilation. Heating systems and insulation aren’t much of a concern in this climate, but rather misting systems, circulation fans and movable screens can help manage temperature, air flow and light intensity.

Greenhouses for Temperate Climates

Temperate climates exhibit seasonal variations in temperature and moderate rainfall year round. An optimal greenhouse design features fully clad walls, roof and sides with large areas to encourage ventilation. A double layer of insulation can significantly reduce heating expenses. Commercial growers in these conditions may find it most efficient to manage heating, ventilation, irrigation and lighting with automated environmental controls to easily maintain optimal greenhouse conditions despite the changing weather. 

Greenhouses for Cold Temperate Climates

In cold, snowy climates, greenhouse designs should be sturdy enough to handle heavy snow. Polycarbonate walls and a steep roof pitch will help prevent snow from collecting on top of the greenhouse. Adding supplemental lighting and keeping vents closed will help keep the greenhouse warmer, particularly during colder months.

Choosing a greenhouse for your type of climate can be complicated, but the experts at Gothic Arch Greenhouses are here to help! Please call us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com to view our selection of greenhouses.

When to Upgrade Your Commercial Greenhouse

Commercial Greenhouse Upgrade When to Upgrade Gothic Arch Greenhouse Mobile ALMaintaining your greenhouse can mean more than sealing doors, greasing hinges, and repairing tears or cracks in coverings. For commercial greenhouses, proper maintenance also means making necessary upgrades to keep your operation efficient and your workforce effective. Not only can this result in healthier plants, but also better profit margins.

Greenhouse technology changes quickly. For that reason, consider that a greenhouse has about 10-15 years of useful life in it in terms of its systems, such as heating, cooling, etc. The structure itself may last a lot longer, but planning to upgrade the working parts of your greenhouse operation is necessary to stay competitive.

Whether your greenhouse upgrade is imminent or still potentially several years away, take inventory of the following and the upgraded options so you’ll be prepared to make investments in your greenhouse when the time comes.

Benching. Need more space? If you have stationary benches, making the switch to movable or rolling benches can help you increase your production area by up to 25 percent.

Glazing. Manage heating costs by reviewing your glazing. It’s likely you regularly reglaze, but be especially mindful of acrylic and glass, which dulls easily. A greenhouse grade glaze that diffuses light, coupled with an infrared layer that adds energy efficiency is ideal.

Heating. High efficiency, condensing type gas systems are among the most efficient options available. To improve heating efficiency, also install horizontal air flow fans to improve heat distribution. Alternative fuels can also help reduce energy costs.

Ventilation. Making the move to natural ventilation will have a significant impact on your energy costs as well. Roll-up side walls, large roof vents and open roof designs make this a widely available option. If you must use fans, switch to those with a ventilation efficiency rating of 16 and up.

Controls. Another option to help cut your energy costs is to upgrade your control system. Some of the latest technology now combines heating and cooling in one device. By streamlining the monitoring, this helps the systems work more efficiently, ensuring they don’t overlap.

Irrigation. Manage water usage and labor and energy costs by upgrading your irrigation system to an automatic one. Ebb-and-flood benches and flood-floor recycle systems can also help conserve water and help save on fertilizer.

Materials Handling. Increase productivity by automating the way you move plants. Many automated options are available, including rotating basket systems, container filling, potting and labeling, etc. Also consider conveyors and carts to move plants, as they offer the most inexpensive option.

Have questions about a particular system or upgrade cost? We’re greenhouse experts! Call us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

 

How to Control Pests in Your Greenhouse

Gothic Arch Greenhouse SuppliesManaging the environment in your greenhouse is crucial, but just as important is keeping pests out of it.

The warm, humid conditions of a greenhouse help extend growing seasons or create an ideal setting for plants to thrive. Unfortunately, those same conditions make for the perfect breeding ground for pests.

Because they can flourish without the presence of their natural predators inside the greenhouse, pests can inflict severe damage very quickly if not detected and controlled early on.

Fortunately, before it gets to that stage, there are many things you can do to minimize the threat of pests in your greenhouse. Prevention is the best way to control pests in your greenhouse, so keep these helpful tips in mind.

Thoroughly inspect new plants introduced in the greenhouse. This is the most common way pests get in your controlled space, and if they go undetected, they have the potential to create devastating damage.

Check and secure all greenhouse openings. That means doors, screens and vents. Repair any holes or tears, replace seals, etc. Proper maintenance now can prevent bigger problems later.

Always use clean equipment and materials. Everything in the greenhouse must be free from the threat of pests. Make sure potting material, containers, tools and other equipment are clean or sterile.

Prevent pools of standing water. The resulting algae and moss growth can lead to development of pests. Avoid overwatering, ensure proper drainage and good ventilation in your greenhouse.

Keep the greenhouse area clean. Remove all trash and plant debris regularly, and give your greenhouse a thorough cleaning after each production cycle. Also mow the area around the outside of the greenhouse to control weeds.

Taking these steps can set you up for growing success in your greenhouse, and we are your source for all the supplies you need. Please call us at 800 -531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com, and we’ll be happy to help!

How to Heat a Greenhouse on a Budget

Gothic Arch Greenhouse snow runoffWorried about the cost of heating your greenhouse this winter? Rising fuel prices and extreme cold weather can add up quickly if you don’t know how to maximize every strategy that could help you cut your energy bill.

Depending on your zone, you may be able to employ some of these options longer than others. But with their help, you may only have to supplement with heaters rather than solely relying on them.

These are some of the best low-tech tips available to help you heat a greenhouse while trying to reduce your energy costs.

Paint It Black. Paint the outside of 55-gallon plastic containers with flat black enamel. Fill them with water and locate it in areas where they can absorb the most sunlight throughout the day. When the temperatures fall at night, heat emitted from the water will help keep your greenhouse warm. This technique—whether for growers with little extra space or those with smaller greenhouses (they can use gallon jugs and paint buckets)—can maintain an average of 20-30 degrees warmer in your greenhouse than outside temperatures!

Gimme Compost. Get the most out of your organic waste by creating a compost pile. Tea bags, fruit and vegetable scraps, dryer lint, newspaper, grass clippings and more can help not only provide essential nutrients to your plants, but also they can provide heat that is released during their chemical breakdown. Place your scraps and trimmings in 55-gallon drums or a ring of wire mesh. Be warned that they can create immense amounts of heat—well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit—so be aware that you use this option with safety in mind.

It’s All Over Row Covers. Garden fabric, also known as row covers, is a simple way to help turn up the heat when the weather outside demands it. Not only can row covers protect plants from cold and wind, but also they shield them from insects and prevent overheating in the summer. This fabric can be draped over hoops or secured to the ground. Row covers can be reused if handled with care, though certain styles can last much longer. Even if yours last one or two seasons, row covers are easily repurposed as weed barriers or covers during milder weather.

Seal It Up. Retain as much heat in your greenhouse by preventing as much warm air as possible from escaping. Seal all joints and gaps in the greenhouse with silicone caulking or installing weatherstripping around doors, seams of glass and at the foundation. Repair any tears in film, coverings or cracks in glass to hold on to all of your hard-earned heat! Regular maintenance like this is one of the simplest ways to help you improve the energy efficiency of your greenhouse.

Heat What You Need. Particularly for larger greenhouses, heating the entire space can get expensive quickly, but the good news is that it might not all be necessary. Separating plants into zones inside the greenhouse with partitions makes it possible to heat the needed space more efficiently. Not only is this a more economical approach, but also it provides the grower with more control over the temperatures, which helps create a more ideal environment for each plant that is grown.

Got questions about preparing your greenhouse for the winter or what works best in your zone? Let us know! Call Gothic Arch Greenhouses at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

Best DIY Gifts for Gardeners

Gothic Arch Greenhouse greenhouses durable affordableGardeners can be some of the best do-it-yourselfers around, so they of all people would appreciate a considerate DIY project—or gift—during this time of year!

If you’re not crafty, creating a DIY gift can seem pretty intimidating, but we’ve put together a list of what we think are the best do-it-yourself gifts for gardeners out there.

The best part? They span all crafting abilities so anyone can give their favorite gardener a thoughtful gift this year.

Here are seven DIY gifts for gardeners that made our “best of” holiday wish list:

Antique Spoon Plant Markers: Any gardener could use a little signage in his or her garden, putting plant markers at the top of our recommendations. Using antique spoons—whether culled from your extra stuff or a secondhand store—can add a vintage flair to any garden. Stamp them or paint them with plant names; you can even create a collection!

Decorative Watering Cans: Functional and fun, personalized watering cans can add a bright spot to an otherwise everyday gardening accessory. Make your selection from dollar stores or thrift stores, if you like. Create or use a stencil if you don’t consider yourself much of a painter, and paint your design. Your gardener can use your gift to water plants or even as a planter.

Gardeners Gift Basket: If crafting isn’t your thing, you can still put together a thoughtful and useful gift by collecting gardening essentials and presenting them in a unique gift basket. Find a pot (you can go the inexpensive route and paint it), then fill it with small tools, gloves, seed packets and more! The bonus is that you can truly personalize it to your recipient.

Seed Tape: What’s a great do-it-yourself gift for a gardener to DIY? Seed tape! Again, if you know your gardener well, you can use the seeds of plants you know he or she will love. Especially if you have a budding gardener on your shopping list, seed tape is a great way for them to get started because it’s so easy to plant and get practice nurturing the sprouts.

Fresh Garden Gift Tags: Is your gardener one to share his or her bounty? If so, you can help them customize their gift with these Fresh From The Garden gift tags. Ideal for the person who preserves their harvest by canning or making jams, these homemade gift tags make a great gift for gardeners who use the fruits of their labor to keep on giving.

Gardener’s Soap: Gardeners are known to get their hands dirty, so it helps to have an extra bar of soap around. But you can make it extra special by making it yourself! This orange and clove recipe makes several bars that you can give to one lucky recipient or split it up among several gardeners on your list. Ideal for cleaning dirt of your hands and keeping them moisturized too!

Garden Glove Rack: If you’ve got some time but maybe not much of a budget, transform leftover plywood and metal clips into an upcycled garden glove rack. It’s a great way for gardeners to keep track of their gloves, plus you can paint it and customize it. This one will take a couple of hours to complete based on how detailed you might get with the painting.

Gothic Arch Greenhouse: Get your gardener what he or she really wants—a greenhouse! So maybe it’s not a traditional DIY gift project, but for your favorite grower, it just supports their own DIY efforts in their garden. Just in time for the holidays, our signature greenhouse is on sale, so you can get a great deal on a great gift!

If you’ve got a greenhouse or greenhouse supplies on your shopping list this year, let us know! Our friendly representatives are happy to help you. Call us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

 

Greenhouse Innovations You Need to Know About

Greenhouse Innovations Gothic Arch GreenhousesFor larger operations, automation can significantly improve efficiency and reduce the cost of labor—which is the biggest production concern. Thanks to innovations, from software and sensors to robotics, water and lighting, greenhouse gardening can be more efficient and effective.

These technological advances in gardening tend to have their roots in Europe before they make their way to North America. Based on what was featured in one of the latest greenhouse technology showcases this year, this is what U.S. growers have to look forward to.

Pointed Microclimate Sensor: Wireless sensor that captures dew point, vapor pressure deficit, temperature and humidity to help monitor heating needs. This tool helps growers cut unnecessary energy costs and reduces the risk of plant disease.

Service Engine (Royal Brinkman): Software that helps managers identify everything in the greenhouse that requires service or maintenance and keeps those tasks on schedule. Streamlines management of greenhouse upkeep and provides up-to-date and easily accessible maintenance records.

Moisture Balance Module (Priva): Automated module that constantly monitors water evaporation and plant water usage, then schedules irrigation and duration that automatically adjusts based on the environment and plant needs. Encourages not minimal, but optimal amounts of water usage.

SmartPAR Wireless Control System (Lumigrow): Wireless platform that can be used to automate lighting zones and adjust LED lighting remotely. Adjustments can be tailored to crop types and growth stages. Lighting modes can be changed between grow and view modes.

IRIS! Scout Robot (Metazet FormFlex): Robotic system detects crop stress, so pest, diseases or other deficiencies can be treated early on. This robot is is also equipped to measure humidity, temperature and carbon dioxide levels to assist growers in managing an ideal environment in their greenhouse.

Wondering how to innovate your greenhouse? Let us help! Call our friendly staff at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com to learn more.

7 (More) Crops That Grow Best in Winter Gardens

Gothic Arch - Winter GardenIf you love gardening, there’s no reason to let the cooler weather interrupt you! There are plenty of crops that thrive when the temperatures fall, so don’t think you have to take a break until the spring.

Depending on your local climate, you can plant outdoors or in a greenhouse. If you’re in the South, outdoor gardens will work for you throughout most of the winter. But if you’re in the northern zones, your best bet is to rely on a greenhouse to help you extend the growing season.

A couple of years ago, we discussed the “7 Best Cold Weather Crops.” But now we’re going to detail seven more that will grow best in your winter gardens!

Radishes: Don’t limit yourself to the typical radishes you may see in the produce aisle at your local grocery store. Varieties like French Breakfast, White Icicle, Pink Beauties and Easter Eggs yield interesting shades of purple, pink and white. And they grow fast! Some are ready within a month or less of seeding.

Peas: Plan to plant these in November or February, as those are the best months for this plant to flourish. Shelling or snap pea seeds should be placed an inch or two deep into rich soil, but give them a stake or something tall to wind around as they grow. Be mindful that birds like to feed on pea shoots, so you’ll want to protect them, yet allow sunshine and rain in.

Potatoes: Ideal for planting in February, potatoes are harvested usually three months after planting. They can also thrive as a late-season crop, particularly in the South, where there are only a couple of frosts per year. Potatoes can be successful for northern growers; they just have to ensure that the ground is well insulated for the crop to survive the cooler season.

Turnip Greens: For crisper, sweeter turnip greens, plant them in the fall. If the weather gets too hot—even if just for a few days—they can taste strong and bitter. Plant from late August to October for a fall crop in most areas. They don’t need much room, but at least six inches apart, and make sure they get plenty of water, especially during drier fall weather.

Cauliflower: Cauliflower can be temperamental, making it one of the best late-season crops. Not recommended for spring, unless summers are cool. Start seeds indoors ealy in summer otherwise. For early harvests, particularly where fall weather doesn’t last long, select varieties like Snow Crown, Denali and green-headed Panther. For larger, more dense and sweet yields that mature in the main season, opt for Candid Charm, Skywalker and Graffiti.

Brussels Sprouts: Plant in early autumn to late winter for an early spring harvest. Some varieties mature earlier if you want to enjoy these veggies even earlier. These include: Prince Marvel, Jade Cross, and Lunet, which mature within 80-125 days from seed. Though they can be planted directly in the ground, your chances of success increases if you start them indoors.

Broccoli: Excels when planted outdoors in the fall, especially in warmer climates. A mid- to late-summer planting is recommended everywhere else unless you are using a greenhouse to extend your season. Be sure to give your plants 1 to 2 feet apart depending on the size of the heads you want to harvest. If you overseed, you’ll have to thin seedlings later to allow for growth.

Wondering what you need to get your winter garden going? Gothic Arch Greenhouses can help! Call our friendly representatives at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com. We’ll be happy to help you get growing!

 

Designing a Retail Garden Center

Retail Garden Center Design Gothic Arch GreenhousesGarden centers are uniquely designed for retail sales, though they may have areas for living plants, hard good products, storage, and shipping and receiving.

But a garden center’s approach and design must be methodical to be successful—from the big picture even down to the small details.

So whether you’re starting a retail garden center or you plan to update an existing one, keeping these design guidelines in mind will help you create an environment in which your business can thrive:

  • Include a greenhouse as part of your garden center design. Not only will this help keep plants healthier in an environment over which you have control, but also this will help customers associate you as being a grower or as an expert they can trust.
  • Keep retail areas separate from all other areas for various functions of the garden center. Your retail space serves a different purpose from production or shipping, for example, so this will help you invest more in the customer experience.
  • High-roof structures are ideal for garden centers, as they create a better environment for customers and plants. By adjusting trusses, you can still make use of space, while allowing customers the ability to reach hanging baskets.
  • Typically located on high-traffic streets, garden centers must have some curb appeal. Using glass—at least on the front of your building—is recommended so potential customers can get a peek at what you’re selling, even as they are driving by.
  • You have the first 20 feet from the entrance to make your impression on shoppers. Change displays regularly and seasonally to engage interest in various products. Some recommend making these changes every two to three weeks. Bench systems should be flexible so they can be used for such displays as they can be moved around to create different looks.
  • Choose an appropriate greenhouse structure. For example, hoop houses can be used year ‘round or even temporarily. Sometimes, they function as both a production and retail area. Gutter-connected greenhouses are typically used by larger operations, and polycarbonate structures have the advantages of permanence and less maintenance.
  • Lay out your space with the customer in mind. Aisles should be wide to allow for foot traffic to flow easily, as well as space for wagons and carts if provided. Multiple doors may also be an options, as they can also assist in this flow.
  • Design specifics can also help direct customers through your space. Signage provides direction, but you want to route shoppers through as many categories of items—plants, pots, potting soil, garden decor, etc.—as possible as this can help boost sales. Stock heavier items at waist-level as customers are more apt to select from middle or higher locations than picking up from the floor.
  • Retail garden center floors are ideally paved, providing convenience for customers and level surfaces for benches that support your displays. Concrete or asphalt is recommended, but asphalt should be painted a light color to reflect heat. Appropriate placement of drains helps keep floors dry to help minimize hazards that come with slippery, wet floors.
  • Promote products in bundles, such as containers with potting soil, shrubs, flowers, fertilizer, garden tools, etc. These can provide ideas for your displays or specials that you want to advertise.
  • Last, but not least, be unique! Approach your garden center design as creating a memorable experience that your customers will not only enjoy, but also share with others to generate invaluable word-of-mouth recommendations.

Our experienced team is ready to help you create your garden center design! We start by evaluating the technical aspects of your project in terms of equipment, interior layout and your specific needs. The possibilities within our range of structures and products are endless, whether your approach is classic or modern. Call us today at 800-531-4769 to begin!

Greenhouse Safety Checklist for Commercial Growers

Being vigilant about greenhouse safety is a must for any commercial grower. Multiple potential electrical, chemical and equipment dangers exist in commercial greenhouse settings, so growers must take steps to protect their structures, plants and, of course, employees.

Many of the most common safety hazards can be managed with proper training, maintenance and vigilance. Adherence to this approach is important since very often greenhouse operations may not always be convenient to fire stations and water sources to extinguish a blaze, for example.

For commercial growers, educating employees on equipment safety, chemical safety, fire prevention, personal protective equipment and more is one of the most proactive ways to prevent downtime due to injury or damage.

With that in mind, here are some safety tips to consider as you take precautions to protect the most important assets that contribute to the success of your commercial growing operation.

  • Keep aisles and walkways clear and even or level to prevent accidental slips, trips and falls.
  • Ensure adequate clearance of exits, breaker boxes, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, etc., so in the event of an evacuation safety equipment can be easily identified.
  • Encourage employees to: hydrate regularly when working in hot conditions, even when they aren’t thirsty; wear hats and light-colored clothing; keep an eye on fellow workers; and be mindful of their location in case they need to call for assistance.
  • Work in teams in the greenhouse so no one is alone in case assistance is needed or an emergency occurs.
  • Wear closed-toe footwear and safety glasses or eye protection, particularly when using chemicals, pruning or using machinery.
  • Be cautious when using tools, as many used in the greenhouse are sharp. The same goes for benches or shelves, which typically have sharp corners.
  • Monitor weather conditions, and in the event of lightning, hail or high winds, move from the greenhouse to a sturdier structure.
  • Compartmentalize your greenhouse into as many fire zones as possible. Use non-combustible materials for walkways and partitions, as well as firebreaks in glazing and shade cloth.
  • Protect boilers from glazing by using non-combustible materials to provide a protective barrier.
  • Locate electrical panels, switches, heating pipes, CO2 generators, etc. a safe distance away from glazing materials or shade cloth.
  • Separate storage rooms, utility rooms and heating plants from the main greenhouse floor when possible.
  • Evacuate the greenhouse immediately if there is a fire. Set off the alarm and notify authorities. Acrylic greenhouse coverings are highly flammable and the fumes are hazardous. Acrylic should only be installed using polycarbonate as a firebreak.
  • Use electrical equipment that is well-grounded and power is supplied by extension cords that can adequately support the current. Do not use electrical equipment if the floors are wet or it is near moisture pads.
  • Greenhouse floors become slippery when wet, particularly when algae forms on floors in propagation areas. Stay on rubber mats as much as possible, and plan to treat floors to treat algae growth.
  • Conduct regular walk-throughs with other team members to identify and address hazards proactively.

Best Coverings for Commercial Greenhouses

Greenhouse Coverings Gothic ArchSelecting the best greenhouse covering for your operation means more than simply choosing among glass, fiberglass, polycarbonate or film—the most commonly used options.

While each choice offers advantages and disadvantages, understanding specifics about your local climate, your budget and your site will help most accurately determine the greenhouse covering that is suited for your needs.

Two more factors to take into account when evaluating the greenhouse covering itself are both the R-value and U-value. R-value is a measurement of the material’s insulating ability. In other words, the higher the value, the more it insulates. U-value is the measurement of heat loss. The lower the U-value, the less heat that is escaping the greenhouse.

In general, greenhouses in cooler climates benefit from twin-walled polycarbonate and Solexx coverings for their insulation properties and ability to withstand substantial snow loads. Warmer climates should avoid glass and single-walled or twin-walled polycarbonate, which easily overheat, and instead select plastic film coverings for their light diffusion qualities.

Glass: Though expensive, glass greenhouse coverings are the most aesthetically pleasing. Available in single-pane and double-pane options, energy efficiency is one of the biggest concerns. Single-pane greenhouses aren’t recommended for northern growers because not only are they fragile, but also they have a low R-value (about 0.9). Double-pane structures can reduce energy costs (compared to single-pane) by half because they have a higher R-value (1.5 to 2.0). Often glass coverings are treated with a wash or film to help diffuse light and increase their insulation properties.

Fiberglass: Extremely strong and durable, fiberglass has an R-value similar to that of glass, but options, such as fiberglass reinforced plastic, are available that provide good diffusion and light transmission. If left untreated, UV rays can break down fiberglass panels, making them brittle and diminishing their efficiency. When the product is new and well-maintained, it can be extremely strong and long-lasting, with some manufacturers offering a 10-year guarantee against yellowing and structural failure. Low R-value indicates it provides insignificant insulation.

Polycarbonate: Available in corrugated and flat forms and single-, double- or multi-wall thicknesses, polycarbonate is stronger than fiberglass or acrylic and resistant to impact and fire. R-values range from around 1.5 up to 2.0 based on different thicknesses, so it offers slight light diffusion, but provides more insulation. Prized for its light weight and durability, polycarbonate can last for years in an outdoor application. If cost is a concern, know that polycarbonate is one of the most expensive materials on the market. It also tends to scratch easily, is difficult to cut and expensive to ship. Periodic cleaning with a soft cloth can help add to the longevity of polycarbonate greenhouse coverings and help keep them looking new.

Polyethylene Film: The least expensive and most commonly used greenhouse covering in North America, polyethylene film is easy to install, but not as permanent as other greenhouse coverings. High quality films are typically available in one or two layers. Being treated with any one of multiple coatings available may also provide added UV protection, thermal protection, anti-drip protection and protection from heat. Based on thickness, the R-value can range from 0.87 up to 1.7. Polyethylene film allows plants to breathe due to the porous or higher U-value of the material, but yields less heat loss than glass.  

Solexx: Highly recommended for its ability to diffuse light and its high R-value, which makes it easy to heat and cool, Solexx is similar to double-wall polycarbonate with a translucent tint. Available in thicknesses ranging from 3mm to 5mm, it comes in a variety of sizes. Solexx is flexible, so it can bend around corners and it is easy to cut. Engineered for prolonged outdoor use, this sturdy greenhouse covering is impact resistant as well. While Solexx is significantly more expensive than film, it costs less than polycarbonate.

Choosing the right greenhouse covering for your operation can make all the difference! If you have more questions and need more assistance making your selection, contact Gothic Arch Greenhouses at 1-800-531-4769 today!