Greenhouse vs Cold Frame (Key Differences)

Although a cold frame or a greenhouse can be commonly used for all-year-round gardening, different sizes and budget considerations are needed to determine the ideal size for your space and goals.

A cold frame is a shorter and narrower structure that’s used to harden off plants. A greenhouse, on the other hand, can be bigger and used to grow vegetables and other seasonal crops.

If you don’t have enough space in the garden, but still want to grow flowers and vegetables, then a greenhouse is the ideal place to start.

A greenhouse is a facility that allows a gardener to control the environment within which they can grow their plants. It can also control lighting, ventilation, and temperature.

A cold frame is usually used to protect plants from harsh cold weather. It provides them with enough protection from frost and wind damage.

Greenhouse vs Cold Frame: Differences

Most people tend to make false assumptions about the structures of greenhouse and cold frames, which are both very costly and time-consuming. When sold as greenhouses, these products often fail to fulfill their intended function.

A cold frame is a miniature version of a greenhouse. It’s commonly used to house seeds and other plant materials. The main purpose of having a cold frame and a greenhouse is to allow the seeds to be germinated in a controlled environment.

Although these two structures are similar, they have different functions. A greenhouse can function as a hot box or a cold house. The temperature difference between the two depends on the environment and the region’s weather conditions. In addition, both houses can maintain their temperature through automation.

Although a cold frame can be used to extend the growing season of a plant, it cannot be controlled due to its dependence on solar heat. This means that it doesn’t have much insulation.

Cold frames help keep the soil warm during the winter season and allow the plants to prepare for the spring planting season.

Sometimes, people get confused about the distinction between a cold frame and a greenhouse. Although both are big enough to be labeled as greenhouse structures, a cold frame can be made into a variety of shapes and sizes. For commercial purposes, a cold frame can be turned into a greenhouse by adding heat to it.

Another key difference between a cold frame and a greenhouse is that a cold frame can be bought from a local nursery. Also, unlike a greenhouse, a cold frame can be made from various materials. However, before buying one, it is important to conduct a proper research on the type of greenhouse that you want.

Depending on the type of task that you intend to use the cold frame for, and the budget that you have, a greenhouse or a cold frame can be a good investment.

Aside from being used for commercial purposes, a greenhouse also serves as a safe space for plants during their early development. It’s important that the environment is regularly monitored to ensure that the plants are growing properly.

Related: Should A Greenhouse Be In Full sun?

Greenhouse vs Cold Frame: Comparison

FeatureCold FrameGreenhouse
Size8’ wide x 4’ deep x 1’ tallWith 48 square feet of growth space, 6′ x 8′ x 7′
ShapesWide range of shapes and stylesForms and styles come in a variety of shapes and styles
Temperature5-10 degrees warmer than the outside temperatureThe temperature inside is 20-30 degrees warmer than the weather outside
MaintenanceLow maintenanceLow to moderate upkeep
ControlCan’t control air and temperatureAir, temperature, and humidity may all be controlled
Cost$100-$600 depending on size and materialsDepending on size, materials, and site preparation, prices range from $665 to $16,500

1. Size

A standard hobby greenhouse measure 6′ x 8′ x 7′. It has 48 square feet of growing space. You can also choose a structure that is 12 to 20 feet wide.

Cold frames come in various shapes and sizes, so if you have limited space in the garden, consider getting one. They are great for minimizing space.

2. Shape

Although I prefer a lean-to greenhouse, I also think that having enough space in the garden is important to maximize its use.

Various shapes and sizes of greenhouse structures can be found in the market. They can be used for various purposes, such as vertical gardening.

One of the most notable features of a cold frame is its sloping design, which allows the water to drain off its surface when it rains. Also, it allows air to circulate inside the structure.

The shape of a cold frame can affect the number of plants that can be grown in it. For instance, the box-like structure commonly known as the cold frame has a clear roof.

3. Temperature

It also serves as a micro-climate in the garden that can protect young plants from cold temperatures and provide additional heat for tender summer crops.

The insulation and solar energy used by a cold frame help raise the temperature inside the structure. It lets in the light and blocks the wind.

Although a cold frame can be used for minimizing winter heat, it should also be heated to maintain its proper temperature. Having the proper amount of heat will allow the greenhouse to reach a temperature of around 20-30 degrees.

Aside from keeping a cold frame warm, a heater can also be used to heat a greenhouse. This article will help you find the right type of heater and budget.

Although heated greenhouse structures can be used for home gardens, they can also be turned into heated plants by following certain steps.

4. Maintenance

One of the most popular types of cold frames is the aluminum one, which is lightweight and can withstand various weather conditions. It is also easy to maintain.

Due to their size, cold frames are easier to maintain than their heated counterparts. However, they are also exposed to various elements such as rain and wind.

A cold frame is also different from a heated one in terms of its maintenance requirements. In order to maintain its longevity, it should be cleaned at least twice a year and its plastic or glass cover should be regularly cleaned.

Having the proper materials and the right drainage system can help keep a cold frame running smoothly. Having the right system will prevent pests and diseases from spreading inside the greenhouse.

The maintenance of a cold frame can be significantly reduced by building its foundation. This can be done by laying in a perimeter base and installing gravel floor.

5. Control

Having the right environment can also help control the various factors within a greenhouse, such as temperature, humidity, and ventilation.

Although it’s possible to use a cold frame to overwinter vegetables, it should be used with caution since it can’t be used for overwintering tender plants.

Although a cold frame can protect plants from harsh weather conditions, it cannot control the environment inside its structure.

6. Cost

Aside from keeping a cold frame warm, ventilation and heating costs also play a huge role in the design of a greenhouse. When planning your garden, keep these factors in mind.

According to Home Advisor, the cost of a greenhouse can vary widely depending on the type of project and area of construction. For instance, a 6-by-8-foot cold frame can cost you around $6,375.

Before investing in a cold frame, make sure that it’s made with the proper materials and has a long-term lifespan. It will provide you with the necessary nutrients and support to successfully grow and propagate plants.

The initial costs of building a cold frame vary depending on its size and materials. Usually, it costs around $100 to $600 depending on its size and materials.

Related: Can You Sleep In A Greenhouse?

Types of Cold Frames

Depending on the type of plant that needs to be grown, a cold frame can have many different shapes and sizes.

Sunken Cold Frame

A sunken cold frame is another sort of cold frame that may be simply manufactured at home. It is usually found beneath the typical surface. Cinder blocks are used to construct the walls, which are then covered with a sturdy plastic lid.

This sort of cold frame is ideal for plants that cannot withstand hard winters and seedlings that need to be stabilized before being planted in the open land.

Plastic Hoop Tunnel

To create a tunnel-like structure, this cold frame employs plastic hoops that are coated with a plastic sheet.

This sort of cold frame is ideal for warming up the soil after the winter season in preparation for spring planting. It also aids in the protection of plants and vegetation against frost.

Wooden Movable Cold Frame

These are not permanently set in one location. The lid is made of durable plastic that is wrapped over a hardwood frame.

This frame is intended to lengthen the harvesting period by a few weeks so that the plants and vegetables can reach their full potential. They also allow seeds to be planted directly in the open ground in the spring.

Types of Greenhouses

A greenhouse is a type of facility that can be made up of various shapes and sizes. There are some basic ideas about these various kinds of greenhouses.

Multi-span greenhouses

Due to their smaller size, these greenhouses utilize less space than regular greenhouses. The manufacturing capacity, on the other hand, is comparable to single span structures. The fundamental benefit of this greenhouse is that it loses less heat, resulting in significant energy savings. Furthermore, their shape allows them to survive harsh weather conditions while sustaining minimal damage.

Shade Houses

Shade houses are outdoor hydronic systems with holes that enable excess moisture, air, and heat to escape. This makes it possible to create a ventilation system that is suitable for plant growth.

Horticultural glass

These are used to create greenhouses in the United Kingdom and certain northern European nations. This greenhouse has a big glass area with sloping sides and is fairly stylish in appearance. The construction of these greenhouses is generally rather enormous. They may also be quite high-tech, utilizing computers, sensors, and regulators to better monitor weather conditions and plant development.

Screen houses

These greenhouses are commonly utilized in tropical and hot climates where bug and pest populations are greater. They create a structure made of insect screening materials to keep pests out of the greenhouse so the plants may grow. They protect plants, flowers, and vegetation against harsh climatic conditions, as well as harmful insects and pests, with a little tweaking.

There are various types of greenhouse structures that can be categorized into various categories, such as high-tech, mid-tech, and low-tech. While high-tech greenhouses are commonly used for commercial purposes, they are also commonly used for monitoring and controlling.

Recent Posts