Do Not Buy a Plastic Greenhouse

February 25th, 2012

In 2010 I blogged about a new little greenhouse I had bought covered in plastic. I bought it at Lowes and was pretty happy with it, it allowed me to start seeds early outdoors (I have problems indoors due to a lack of a south facing window, kids, and cats).

I gave it a pretty good recommendation, I hereby rescind that. In 2011 during the summer, one year old, I noticed the plastic had started to fail at the top. I even kept it in the shade most of the time. By now the plastic is all but gone on top, so much for holding in heat and moisture eh.

plastic greenhouse fail

You know how we’re told that plastic takes decades to rot in a landfill? Maybe so, buried and deprived of light and oxygen, but exposed it sure degrades pretty fast.

So now all I have is a flimsy top heavy stand with flimsy trays, perhaps still useful, but not very.

Plexiglass might be strong enough for a greenhouse, but that is probably the only plastic I would ever consider for such an application again, I’m afraid in the future I won’t waste my money on things not made of actual glass. Glass doesn’t have to be expensive either, sure, new stuff could be, but you can often find old windows on Craigslist or elsewhere, they can be repurposed into small green houses or cold frames. Not just windows either, old storm doors, sliding doors, shower doors. Reuse and recycle.

14 Responses to “Do Not Buy a Plastic Greenhouse”

  1. Carol  Says:

    Sorry about your bad experience with your greenhouse! I want you to know, that this is not the norm with ALL plastic greenhouses! But you do have to use plastic that is specifically made for greenhouses (a much heavier grade of plastic!)
    If yours came as a kit with the plastic included, you should contact them about the problem.
    Just to let you know, My green house has been up for almost 5 years now, and the plastic is still fine. I live in zone 5 with horrible winters!
    Take a look at mine here: http://www.allaboutrosegardening.com/How-to-build-a-greenhouse.html

  2. Amanda Best  Says:

    I bought the same greenhouse. I realized after the first winter I should have taken the plastic off after the growing season. I was able to get a replacement one from Lowes. I did buy another one to get the phone number but I wanted a second one.

  3. James Mann  Says:

    I have seen plastic do that but that was after years of weathering.

    We have the same problem with south facing windows as big trees along the driveway which block the sky. I was thinking I would build a little greenhouse along the south side of the garage/shed. I was going to use plastic. Now I will do some more research to find what kind of plastic will last.

    My dad built his own greenhouse about 15 or 20 years ago. Once he retired from farming he became a handy man for all the old ladies around and collected a lot of windows. Which he eventually turned into his greenhouse and it was amazing.

  4. Daniel  Says:

    I would have to disagree with you saying to never buy a plastic greenhouse. I will say though, never buy a plastic greenhouse made out of the type of plastic that yours was made of.
    That stuff is just too easily torn and deformed. There’s a greenhouse I’ll be buying soon that is made of plastic, but it has a reinforcing wire grid built into it, so it should last a lot longer than yours.
    You can buy reinforced plastic covers for greenhouses like yours, I suggest you look into that option so your frame doesn’t go to waste :)

  5. Dianna  Says:

    Thanks so much for this post. We’ve struggled with the “should we” question and you’ve helped us make up our minds.

  6. Pamela  Says:

    After a storm in Tucson that knocked my Lowes Greenhouse over – it was on its side in the hot sun – and it caught fire! melting the plastic cover – so its a shelving unit now – :)

  7. michele  Says:

    We use plexiglass in the greenhouse. We had glass at one point but as it broke through the years the plexiglass became the better choice. Our neighbor though has a similar type plastic greenhouse as the one above he put up this year. I don’ know how long it will last.

  8. john evans  Says:

    I live in Spain were the climate is very dry and on my travels around the coast you see lots of plastic greenhouses.

    They use them mostly for tomatoes and boy do they grow lots of them.

    On the highways the entire landscape in some areas are covered with the sight of these plastic greenhouses.

  9. Jackie Dietz  Says:

    I have the same one, which just kicked the bucket after ONE season! I agree with other folks about looking for something more heavy duty. And I took it apart to use the pieces for a pea trellis :) I really wanted to be able to find another purpose for it so I’m pretty happy with that.

    If someone has a product they are happy with I would love to hear more about it! I will never buy one of these little rolly ones again though :(

  10. Ron Haskell  Says:

    Plastic cannot withstand the sun and then cold from season to season; however, UV Polyfilm does and has a guaranteed life span of at least 4 years or more.

    Contact GothicArchGreenhouse.com and they will sell 4-yr Polyfilm to order. To cover your seed rack would be less than $20 with shipping and will be worth the investment; or any other structure.

  11. Linda  Says:

    I appreciate the comments on the plastic greenhouses. Glass is out of the question for me as there is a golf course across the street and the balls have already broken our house windows more than once. I am interested in knowing which kind of plastic to use and where to get the kind with the mesh ingrained in it, such as one person mentioned he had. Where did you get it? :)

  12. Andy  Says:

    avoid plastic greenhouses if you live in Yorkshire… it rains a lot….. its windy all the time. 2 have blown away this year into the bottom of the Valley also my composter!

  13. Kristen  Says:

    Lexan or polygal is what I have seen recommended in Elliot Coleman’s book. You can get Lexan at Lowes but it is pricey stuff. In the same book he describes a greenhouse inexpensive to make that uses greenhouse plastic. This plastic is the type someone already mentioned meant to be used in the sun. It is more expensive then he regular 6 ml construction plastic or painters plastic. Anyway best of luck. I am off to go find where to get some. Building cold frames

  14. Denise  Says:

    I’m wondering about the dioxins that leach into the plants when the plastic gets hot. Any ideas about this?

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