How to Choose a Greenhouse or Cold Frame

Are you already in the market for a greenhouse or cold frame? Or did you stumble upon this blog post in your search to extend your growing season? Either way, you’re in luck! Check out our simple guide to help you determine which greenhouse or cold frame is for you:

Cold frame vs Greenhouse

If you’re new to gardening in general or even if you’re a seasoned gardener looking to improve your yield, you may be wondering what a cold frame is and how it differs from a greenhouse. Both structures are used by gardeners and farmers to extend their gardening season up to the entire year. Which one you need depends on your budget, available space, and growing goals.

Cold frames are usually used to protect crops from cold weather, hence the name. They tend to be smaller than greenhouses and are traditionally simple box-like structures with a transparent top.

Greenhouses, on the other hand, tend to be larger and are used to toughen up crops and to continue growing off-season crops. They usually require more time and effort to manage compared to cold frames.

How to Choose a Greenhouse or Cold Frame

Consider three points when determining if you need a greenhouse or a cold frame:


As always, budget is going to be an important factor in choosing a greenhouse or cold frame. Greenhouses are the more expensive option in terms of initial investment and upkeep. However, they offer a higher level of functionality, which may make the investment worth it to you.

Greenhouses typically range from about $500 to $35,000. However, you can find a few smaller, portable options for less than $400 like this portable steel frame greenhouse or this folding walk-in greenhouse

Cold frames, on the other hand, are much cheaper. You can build or purchase a basic cold frame for $100 or less. However, larger, high quality pre-built cold frames can cost up to $300 – like this wooden cold frame or this pre-built wooden cold frame


When shopping for a cold frame or greenhouse, your goals are going to be the most important factor when choosing which product to purchase. If you are trying to protect your dormant perennials during the winter months, start your seedlings, or if you would like to extend the growing season of a few plants, a small cold frame will likely serve you well. However, if your goal is to grow year-round, if you need more control over the environment you are growing your plants in, if you want to grow organic plants, or if you want to grow larger plants, a greenhouse is likely the better option.


As we stated above, greenhouses are larger than cold frames, so the space you have to dedicate to one or the other will be a determining factor in which type you purchase. 

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