If you want to grow flowers, vegetables and fruits that don’t do well outdoors in our climate, you need at least a greenhouse that simulates a southern climate for cultivation. If you would like to see and cultivate many different flowers and fruits, you need a large greenhouse, and that can quickly cost four-digit sums in a stable version that is to be permanently in the garden. A foil greenhouse is cheaper and easier to set up. The following is about its advantages and disadvantages and tips for assembly.

The advantages of the foil greenhouse

First of all: A “real” greenhouse stays in the garden permanently, while a plastic greenhouse can only be set up when you need it. Here are the other advantages of a foil greenhouse:

  • Poly greenhouses are transformed into an enclosed space with foil, and foil is a very inexpensive material.
  • Foil greenhouses are cheap:
    • You can get a foil greenhouse with an area of ​​4.5 x 3 meters and a height of 2 meters for just over €100
  • Foil greenhouse does not require any major craftsman skills
  • the frame consists of metal tubes that are simply plugged together
  • A film is then pulled over this framework
  • This foil is mostly made of polyethylene, waterproof, resistant to many acids, salt solutions and alkalis and conditionally resistant to many other substances
  • However, the foils usually used age over the years and then have to be replaced
  • In the case of the ready-to-use foil greenhouse, windows are usually integrated into this foil, which ensure a slight draft and prevent heat build-up.
  • Ventilation can prevent fungal growth due to high humidity
  • Film greenhouses have the advantage that, unlike glass greenhouses, they usually withstand hailstorms without damage.
  • Height also allows the cultivation of larger southern crops such as kiwis or climbing vines

With that we have named many advantages of a foil greenhouse, but not the actually decisive advantage: You simply won’t think for several years before you build a greenhouse in the garden to give preference to heat-loving types of vegetables and fruits. This means that you don’t have to wait several years before you can enjoy delicious tomatoes, peppers and aubergines from your own harvest. If you know such vegetables have only been harvested half-ripe and have been imported over long distances from the supermarket, these taste sensations can certainly open the way to a healthier life. So that should be emphasized again before we get to the disadvantages.


On the other hand, the pleasingly simple construction of the foil greenhouse also has disadvantages:

If a poly greenhouse is to be set up in a garden where there is strong wind, the structure should be well anchored. This is usually possible, but a bit laborious. The greenhouse film is so generously dimensioned in the current models that it can be fixed under the film greenhouse. The prerequisite for this is that you have to dig a ditch up to 50 cm deep around the greenhouse when setting it up in order to fold in the greenhouse film. This digging makes the construction of a larger foil greenhouse quite complex.

A foil greenhouse is covered with foil, as a larger visible element in the garden, not to everyone’s taste. You should inquire exactly which foil is used. There are still foil greenhouses available, in which the foil consists of PVC, which is very harmful to the environment. Most foil greenhouses are now covered with PE foil. Although they are not among the most environmentally harmful plastics, they are still a plastic compound. PE = Polyethylene is made from crude oil, so it uses finite resources. While it can be mechanically recycled fairly well, it takes about a millennium to decompose. The resistance of PE and film in general has its limits. Foil should e.g. B. Never lie directly on the metal without a pad, otherwise it will quickly become brittle when it is hot.

Select a foil greenhouse with a view to its use

Covering with foil has specific effects on the temperature and climate in the greenhouse. This is not necessarily an advantage or a disadvantage. However, it is not unimportant that you include the planned main use before you decide on the simple variant of the poly greenhouse, because:

  • Foil does not insulate very well
  • The heat of the sun in spring can have noticeable effects very quickly
  • If the weather in spring brings high temperature fluctuations, there are also temperature fluctuations in the plastic greenhouse
    • simply hardening off for many young plants, but also too much for some
  • until the cultivations are large enough for outdoor use, the climate in the plastic greenhouse is quite suitable
  • the plastic greenhouse for spring cultivation has proven itself
  • poor insulation is noticeable in year-round operation
    • In the summer, the ventilation through the windows is sometimes not sufficient when it is hot
    • so you have to think of additional ventilation options
    • In winter, the insulating effect is usually not sufficient for continuous plant cultivation
  • Use the foil greenhouse as winter quarters for plants

However, if you actually dream of cultivating rare orchids all year round, or would like to harvest fresh lamb’s lettuce and parsley in winter, one of the common plastic greenhouses will not be able to fully meet your requirements.

Tips for building

In principle, the construction of a plastic greenhouse should not overwhelm you. However, a few considerations about the structure are recommended:

  • Before you get started, you should of course briefly consider where the poly greenhouse has the best place in the garden.
  • It’s all about the optics, you probably don’t want to look directly at the greenhouse from the garden seating group, but also about optimal sun exposure and wind protection.
  • If you want to plant the garden soil in the foil greenhouse, it should first be checked and prepared for planting if the area has never been planted.
  • The frame actually just snaps together, which will overwhelm you if the instructions are in Mandarin or not, so check beforehand.
  • As already mentioned, the foil should be hidden in windy areas, the digging of the trench should be done first.
  • Because difficulties could still arise here that force you to move the location, for example strong roots in the ground.
  • Keep a cover handy too, if your trench fills up with mud the next downpour it would be beyond annoying.
  • You should have some helpers when you apply the foil, otherwise it will be quite a strenuous endeavor.

Alternatives to the conventional foil greenhouse

Everything mentioned above applies to the “normal” plastic greenhouses that you can buy in the garden center or hardware store. When it comes to foil greenhouses, there are many other options besides purchasing the prefabricated products:

1. You could build the frame for your poly greenhouse yourself, in exactly the dimensions that best fit into your garden. Or in exactly the design that best suits your house. There are plug-in elements available today that you can use to design your plastic greenhouse as an unusual design object.

These plug-in elements are called “Vario quick”. They are sold by GeKaHo GbR in 77960 Seelbach. Information at www.gekaho.de. The plug-in elements cost a few euros per part. They can be used to connect standard 24×48 mm wooden strips quickly and easily, and not just at right angles.

2. Of course, this self-designed framework needs a foil, which can be bought from many retailers. The foil of a foil greenhouse that has already been purchased must also be renewed every few years. Polyethylene film is z. B. under www.pe-folie.de offered as a greenhouse film. PVC foil can sometimes still be found. However, the purchase of serums cannot be recommended for ecological reasons.

However, today there are also completely new and much more exciting foils that you could use to dress up your greenhouse frame. For example, a film made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), which has been causing a sensation for several years. The dome-like greenhouses of the “Eden Project”, the unique botanical garden in Cornwall, Britain, are covered with ETFE. The geodesic domes were used as backdrops in the film “James Bond – Die Another Day”. Gondwanaland, the giant tropical hall in Leipzig Zoo, the tropical theme park Tropical Islands near Berlin, the Olympic Stadium in Kiev and the roof and facade of the Allianz Arena are also covered with ETFE or ETFE foil cushions.

Greenhouse film made from ETFE is marketed under the brand name F-Clean by AGC Chemicals Europe based in 1077 XV Amsterdam. Information at www.f-clean.nl. F-Clean ensures early harvest and maximum fruit quality because it transmits 94% of UV light. It cleans itself, is guaranteed to last 10 years and makes greenhouses usable all year round. It’s not exactly cheap, but it’s a worthwhile investment (which also looks far more attractive than the other slides).

Plastic greenhouses, in many smaller and larger versions, enable a considerable expansion of the menu and the exotic plants in the garden. Have you ever thought about growing artichokes, they are both? The range of variation was only indicated above. There are also poly tunnels and cold frames, mini greenhouses and tomato domes, raised beds with greenhouse covers and bamboo grow bells, Victorian grow bells and zip-up instant grow systems, all ready to buy and most do-it-yourself.

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