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By Amy Hanlon on 01 Nov 2022

Potting Shed vs Greenhouse: What’s the Difference (and Which is Right for you)? 


Summer in a garden is like the yearly show at a dance school. Bright colours, graceful performances, dramatic entrances. The culmination of a whole lot of hard work, love and commitment behind the scenes.

Gardeners need spaces for performers that need extra care and attention, which is why potting sheds and greenhouses exist.

But which one should you choose?

Why do gardeners use greenhouses and potting sheds?

Both of these buildings are for growing plants that are too delicate for the changeable Scottish climate. You know how it goes – you get excited around mid-April and buy a load of beautiful bedding plants. They look gorgeous for a few weeks, before a cold snap comes along and carries them all off.

There’s a limit to the hardiness of even hardy plants on a frosty Scottish morning!

The canny gardener keeps these precious flowers out of the cold until the weather gets warmer, so they can have a beautiful garden year-round.

How?

By cosying them up in the sunny light and warmth of a greenhouse or potting shed.

A greenhouse or potting shed stretches your repertoire of exotic plants that would never make it in the Scottish weather.

Tomatoes?

No worries!

Passion Flowers?

Why not?

Whether you’re trying to nurture cucumbers, peppers or some fancy-looking flowers a greenhouse or a potting shed (or maybe both) is essential in Scotland.

What’s the difference between a greenhouse and a potting shed?

The main difference between a greenhouse and a potting shed is the building materials. A greenhouse is made mainly of glass or polycarbonate glazing (ie. plastic).

Whereas a potting shed is usually made of timber with some glass windows, to give you some natural light in the building.

Pros and cons of a greenhouse

First off, greenhouses are generally cheaper than potting sheds.

They are usually made of glass or polycarbonate glazing panels. Polycarbonate is arguably better for your plants than glass, as it protects them from direct sunlight. Polycarbonate greenhouses are competitively priced and have a life expectancy of around ten years.

greenhouse vs potting shed

If a plastic greenhouse isn’t for you, glass greenhouses still tend to be cheaper than potting sheds. However, glass is a famously-breakable material. Expect more maintenance and repairs if you go for the traditional option. 

The glass or polycarbonate panels let in the sunlight. This maximizes the amount of heat trapped inside the building, which is exactly what your plants love. If your gardening goal is to grow plants that thrive in the sun all day, every day, you need a greenhouse.

Because of the cheaper materials, greenhouses come in a wide range of sizes – from petite to polytunnel! However, this also means that they are less-durable buildings.

Of course, not all greenhouses are the same. Cheaper buildings won’t last as long, whereas more expensive ones will be sturdier structures. Some greenhouses cost as much as some potting sheds. This depends on the size of the building and the quality of the materials used.

If your primary goal is to incubate plants, a greenhouse is an excellent choice that will suit almost any budget.

Pros and cons of a potting shed

Potting sheds are generally more expensive than greenhouses, especially if they’re built to a decent specification. However, this also means that they’re more durable, and will need less maintenance than a greenhouse. 

A potting shed is a great choice for a newbie gardener who keeps knocking their seedlings off their window sills and fretting about where to keep them until they’re ready to be planted outside.

By combining the storage space potential of a shed with the incubation potential of a greenhouse, a potting shed gives you the best of both. The extra windows allow plenty of natural light and heat into your shed, but they also provide extra storage space for garden tools and supplies. You can stash lawnmowers and bags of compost neatly but still keep them handy for when you need them. Everything can be tidied away and it won’t be visible to the world through a glass wall. 

Potting sheds also feature a workbench and shelves, which places everything within easy reach and avoids repetitive bending down. While they may not be available in the same range of sizes as greenhouses, potting sheds provide enough space to get your garden on, and if you buy one from a manufacturer rather than a supplier you’ll be able to customise the building to suit your needs. 

And since timber is a better insulator than glass, your potting shed will continue to harness the sun even in the colder months. Greenhouses continue to allow sunlight in during the winter, but the poor insulation properties of glass mean that they aren’t warm for long.

potting shed

Potting Sheds or Greenhouse: Which one should I choose?

If I have to choose between two delicious options, my answer is usually BOTH! 

I could say the same about greenhouses and potting sheds. If you have space in your garden, you’re an advanced horticulturalist, and your budget allows, you may well want the option to nurture and protect your seedlings in your potting shed before transferring them to your greenhouse for maximum sun and warmth. A potting shed is a perfect place to keep your greenhouse tools and equipment.

If your priority is plants and plants alone, a greenhouse is an affordable way to expand your gardening horizons and protect your seeds and plant babies. An environment dedicated to growth and growth alone.

But if you’re looking to combine incubation and storage for your garden tools and other garden equipment, a potting shed gives you the storage benefits of a shed and the suggestion of what a suntrap greenhouse can do. If you’re new to the gardening game and can’t quite commit to a building that’s dedicated entirely to horticulture, a potting shed is a good way to spread your green-fingered wings.

While a greenhouse is a dedicated stage for the grand dance show of summer, a potting shed is a community theatre with other facilities. Or maybe you’re working towards an entire complex of garden buildings to cultivate vegetables and flowers ready for the big performance. After all, great oaks from little acorns grow! 

If you want to check out our Deluxe Potting Sheds, there’s one here in our Show Area. While there aren’t any seedlings in it yet, you can inspect the shelves and workbench, and start dreaming of next year’s colourful summer.

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