A Guide to Types of Greenhouses

While offering a diverse range of ecosystems and farming capabilities, British Columbia’s diverse climate and landscapes present some challenges for the agriculture industry. To overcome seasonal limitations and optimize crop production, many farmers in the province turn to the use of greenhouses. These structures come in various types, each tailored to meet specific agricultural needs.

Traditional Greenhouses

Traditional greenhouses, otherwise known as free-standing greenhouses, are often the most recognizable structures. They are made of metal or aluminum frames with polyethylene or polycarbonate coverings. These greenhouses come in a range of sizes, making them suitable for a range of uses from small-scale family and hobby farms to large-scale commercial operations. Traditional greenhouses provide basic controlled environments for temperature, humidity, and ventilation, allowing for extended growing seasons and improved crop quality.

High Tunnel Greenhouses

High tunnels, also known as “hoop houses”, are unheated greenhouses with curved frames that are covered in plastic. These greenhouses are typically less expensive and easier to install than traditional greenhouses. High tunnels extend growing seasons by providing a warmer microclimate for crops, making them particularly useful for protecting against late spring or early fall frosts. These structures are popular in British Columbia for their cost-effectiveness and flexibility.

Lean-to Greenhouses

Lean-to greenhouses are attached to existing structures, such as barns or utility buildings. These greenhouses are built to share a wall with the existing structure, utilizing its heat and support. Lean-to greenhouses are practical for farmers that are looking to maximize their space and resources while maintaining the benefits of a controlled environment to grow crops in.

Cold Frames

Cold frames are low, unheated structures with transparent tops that capture sunlight. They are most useful for hardening off seedlings or growing cool-season crops. Cold frames are a great option for early spring planting and can extend the growing season for various crops in more temperate regions. These structures are easily movable, making them adaptable to changing crop needs.


Polytunnels, similar to high tunnels, are covered with polyethylene or polypropylene sheets and are renowned for their affordability and simplicity. Polytunnels are effective in protecting crops from adverse weather conditions, and their design allows for good airflow. They are very commonly used by both small-scale and large-scale farmers throughout British Columbia.

Aquaponic Greenhouses

Combining aquaculture and hydroponics, aquaponic greenhouses integrate fish farming with crop cultivation. The nutrient-rich water from fish tanks is circulated to nourish plants, while the plants filter the water, creating a sustainable and versatile closed-loop system. Aquaponic greenhouses in British Columbia are a model that showcases innovation with resource-efficient farming methods.

Geodesic Domes

Geodesic domes are spherical structures that provide unique benefits for greenhouse farming. They allow for optimal sunlight exposure due to their shape and are known for their energy efficiency. Geodesic domes have been gaining popularity in British Columbia as sustainable options for greenhouse farming, offering increased structural stability with a significant reduction in energy costs.

With the ever-changing climate in British Columbia, the utilization of greenhouses is a cornerstone of successful agriculture. There are a wide variety of greenhouses available that cater to the diverse needs of farmers around the province, and these structures enable extended growing seasons, crop protection, and innovative farming techniques. Looking to buy or sell a greenhouse property? Get in touch with BC Farm & Ranch Realty to connect with realtors that know the industry well and can help you navigate the variety of options available.

Share Post: