A greenhouse shed seems like a great idea.
After all, many gardeners crave a greenhouse. And what gardener couldn’t use a storage shed?
But is a shed greenhouse really a practical concept?
If you’re intrigued with the idea of greenhouse growing, will this type of building give you what you’re looking for?
A shed greenhouse (also called a potting shed or solar shed) is a building intended to serve as a storage shed, but designed in such a way that it lets in lots of sunlight on one side.
The idea, of course, is to get double-duty out of a building.
Most shed greenhouse designs are just conventional looking buildings with pitched roofs, but with lots of windows on one side.
Some shed greenhouse designs are buildings that are covered with solid siding on one half, and with a greenhouse glazing on the other half.
Either way, a greenhouse shed is a study in compromise. Because while a greenhouse/shed combo may make for a perfectly good storage shed, it makes for a decidedly less-than-perfect greenhouse.
A shed greenhouse comes with some of the same disadvantages of lean to greenhouses - primarily lack of light and increased difficulties in ventilation and temperature control.
Since only part of the building is covered with greenhouse glazing (or just extra windows), much less light is able to enter in comparison with a ‘regular’ greenhouse. This can be a major disadvantage, particularly during the low-light days of winter.
It also makes orientation of the building critical. The greenhouse portion of the building should face the winter sun (that would be facing south in the northern hemisphere).
And if you want to heat the greenhouse during the winter, unless you devise some sort of physical barrier between the greenhouse portion and shed portion, you’ll be spending money on making your garden tools nice and comfy. With energy costs what they are these days, it would be a shame to waste money on making your rake, hoe and lawn mower nice and warm – they just won’t appreciate it!
Storing all of your tools and gardening odds and ends in the same building in which you’re doing your greenhouse growing is somewhat problematical, too, since cleanliness is an important component of greenhouse management.
Unless you’re borderline fanatical about cleaning them, bits of decaying plant matter and dust and dirt will be present on most of the gardening tools and implements that you’ll be storing in the shed portion of the building.
And that’s a good way to introduce pest or disease problems into the plants residing in the greenhouse portion of the greenhouse shed.
Is there any situation in which a greenhouse/shed combo makes sense?
If you’re just really cramped for space, a greenhouse/shed combo might be worth considering. Because there’s no question that you can save space over having a separate greenhouse and garden shed.
And if you’re not really interested in hardcore greenhouse growing, then the greenhouse portion of the combo building might work perfectly well for you.
If you don’t want to grow warm-weather plants during the dead of winter, but just want a nice, sunlit room to start your seeds, then a shed greenhouse may be perfectly suitable for your purposes. This type of greenhouse is also called a potting shed because it is often specifically used for that purpose.
If you’re thinking about building a greenhouse shed, though, just keep in mind that it most certainly is a compromise. Just be sure that it’s a compromise you can live with.