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Forms and Frames

Previously, we discussed the three types of greenhouse users. It is the first thing to consider before choosing a greenhouse. Now it is time to look at the types of greenhouses out there.


  • Even-span: This is a full-size structure that has a gable end attached to another building. This type of greenhouse provides flexibility for those that have existing structures and may not have the room to build a freestanding structure. In addition, it provides more uniform temperatures because of air flow and structure location.
  • Lean-to: This is more like a “half-greenhouse.” This is the product one gets when space is limited; therefore, it is attached to the side of a fixed structure. Any utilities (i.e. electricity, water, heat) are likely to come from the fixed structure. However, there is less ability to regulate temperature than an even-span because of air flow.
  • Freestanding structure: This building is detached from another permanent structure. The flexibility of these is much more than an attached structure, and the only restriction on size depends on available land. This gives you the most flexibility, but it also requires that you install heat, water, and electricity.


In regards to freestanding structures, you have various frame types:

  • Quonset: A circular frame that has lower headroom on the sides.
  • Gothic: The gothic frame has an almost oval shape, with wooden arches that may be joined at the ridge. The size allows for headroom on the side of the building, unlike a Quonset hut.
  • Rigid-frame: The rigid-frame structure is a conventional structure with vertical sidewalls and rafters, and with a traditional gable roof.
  • Post and rafter: Similar to a rigid-frame structure, but with strong sidewall posts and deep post embedment to withstand the weather.
  • A-frame: Similar to a rigid-frame structure, except a collar beam ties the upper parts of the rafters.


In a future blog post, we will discuss some of the benefits (and drawbacks) these structures have, and some options for your structure.