High Tunnel Vs. Greenhouse: Which Wins And Why?

Are you a gardener trying to decide between setting up a high tunnel greenhouse or just a plain ‘ol “normal” greenhouse? It might surprise you that these two options, while similar, aren’t interchangeable.

In this article, we’ll delve into the differences between them starting with their structure and usage all the way down to their cost. Plus – I’ll also give your recommendations for some high tunnel greenhouse kits that are really amazing.

Stay tuned if you’re ready for an enlightening ride on which of these gardening structures takes home the gold and why!



A high tunnel and a greenhouse differ in terms of structure, usage, and materials used.

Structure

High tunnels and greenhouses show their differences most notably in their structures. High tunnels, more often than not, are temporary or movable structures. They come as hoop houses, lightweight but sturdy enough to protect crops from harsh weather conditions such as wind, rain, and extremities of temperature.

On the other hand, greenhouses are permanent fixtures. Meant for year-long cultivation under controlled environmental conditions. They can stand firm on the ground with benching setups and raised beds that further aid plant growth.

Usage

High tunnels serve as an exceptional tool for extending the growing season. Their flexible structure allows growers to plant crops directly in the ground or use other versatile methods such as benching setups and raised beds, offering a wide range of options based on crop types and growers’ needs.

High tunnels shield plants from extreme temperatures, excess rain, and gusty winds, resulting in healthier crops with higher yields.

high tunnel greenhouse

In contrast – greenhouses offer a controlled environment ideal for year-round growing. With permanent structures equipped with heaters and fans, greenhouses maintain steady temperatures regardless of external weather conditions.

The consistent environment inside a greenhouse makes it suitable for delicate plants that require specific conditions to flourish. These agricultural structures can support traditional soil-based cultivation as well as advanced horticultural practices like hydroponics and vertical farming.

Material

High Tunnels typically utilize a plastic covering over a metal frame, offering flexibility and ease of assembly on a budget. This material choice contributes to their lighter weight and increased mobility compared to greenhouses.

Greenhouses, however, often incorporate glass or polycarbonate materials. Both substances ensure durability and help maintain controlled environments for year-round growing practices.

These materials might increase the overall cost but also enhance temperature regulation and light diffusion capabilities inside the greenhouse structure. The type of material used in these agricultural structures significantly influences their functionality, longevity, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness growing plants.



High tunnels offer several benefits, including cost-effectiveness, season extension, increased crop yield, and versatility.

Cost-effectiveness

High tunnels are known for their cost-effectiveness, making them a popular choice for growers on a budget. Compared to traditional greenhouses, high tunnels are generally more economical, even when equipped with all the defining features of a greenhouse.

high tunnel greenhouse

The cost of high tunnels can vary depending on factors such as size, materials, and additional features. Overall, high tunnels offer an affordable solution for extending the growing season and increasing crop yield without breaking the bank.

Season extension

High tunnels and greenhouses both offer the benefit of season extension for growers. Season extension refers to the ability to extend the growing season beyond what is typically possible in an outdoor environment.

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High tunnels provide a protective structure that shields plants from harsh weather conditions such as wind, rain, and extreme temperatures. This allows growers to start planting earlier in the spring and continue harvesting later into the fall.

Greenhouses, on the other hand, offer a more controlled environment for plant growth, allowing growers to create optimal conditions regardless of the external climate. With temperature control and supplemental lighting, greenhouses enable year-round production of crops.

Increased crop yield

High tunnels and greenhouses offer growers the potential for increased crop yield. With high tunnels, plants are protected from harsh weather conditions such as wind, rain, and extreme temperatures.

This protection allows crops to thrive and produce a higher yield compared to open-field cultivation. Greenhouses, on the other hand, create a controlled environment that provides optimal conditions for plant growth throughout the year.

The ability to control factors like temperature, humidity, and light levels can significantly enhance crop productivity. By utilizing either a high tunnel or a greenhouse, growers can maximize their harvests and achieve higher yields of healthy and robust crops.

Versatility

High tunnels offer a remarkable level of versatility, making them a popular choice among growers. These structures are lighter and more movable compared to traditional greenhouses, allowing for easy repositioning whenever necessary.

They are also flexible in terms of the crops they can accommodate, as high tunnels can be used on the ground or with benched setups and raised beds. With their ability to withstand various weather conditions, high tunnels provide season extension by protecting plants from harsh elements such as wind, rain, and extreme temperatures.

This versatility makes high tunnels an excellent option for growers who need adaptability in their gardening practices.


Great High Tunnel Greenhouse Kits On The Market:

Let’s go through some examples of really good high tunnel greenhouse kits that you can buy in 2024.

Product 1: Quictent High Tunnel Greenhouse Kit (Best Large Sized Kit)

high tunnel greenhouse

Where To Buy: Amazon

Features & Specs:
– Dimensions of 20 x 10 x 6.6 FT

– 2 mesh zipper doors and 8 windows. Made with a polyethylene film cover.

– Reinforced steel frame design that is 100% waterproof with 85% sun filtering.

– Comprehensive warranties

The Quictent Upgraded Large Walk-in Greenhouse offers an outstanding combination of durability, versatility, and plant protection, making it an excellent investment for gardening enthusiasts. Its unique dual-layered doors and windows provide the flexibility to maintain optimal growing conditions, with a mesh layer for ventilation and a PE cloth for insulation.

The greenhouse’s frame is significantly reinforced with additional crossbars, ensuring greater stability and resistance to weather elements. The heavy-duty, double-layered PE cover is both waterproof and UV-resistant, offering extended durability and effective plant protection. This greenhouse also features an overlong cover design for improved airtightness and stability, and comes with a commitment to customer satisfaction, including lifetime replacement for connectors, bases, and stakes, a one-year warranty for poles, and a six-month warranty for the cover.

These features combined make it a top choice for those looking to create a robust and nurturing environment for their plants.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Product 2: Best Choice High Tunnel Greenhouse Kit (Best Medium Sized Kit)

Where To Buy: Amazon

Features & Specs:
– Dimensions of 15 x 7 x 7 FT

– 1 mesh zipper door and 8 windows. Made with a polyethylene coated cover.

– Powder coated steel frame design that is 100% waterproof with 70% sun filtering.

high tunnel greenhouse

The Best Choice Products 15x7x7ft Walk-in Greenhouse Tunnel is a robust and practical solution for gardeners looking to extend their growing season. Its durable PE fabric not only traps and softens sunlight but also helps regulate humidity and insulate plants, making it suitable for year-round gardening.

The tunnel’s arched design creates a spacious environment for a variety of plants, while also offering ample room for gardeners to work comfortably. Additionally, the greenhouse features eight roll-up windows and a zippered door to effectively manage airflow and adapt to varying weather conditions.

With these features, this walk-in greenhouse tunnel stands out as a dependable choice for home gardening enthusiasts looking to cultivate a thriving garden.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Product 3: King Bird High Tunnel Greenhouse Kit (Best Small Sized Kit)

high tunnel greenhouse

Where To Buy: Amazon

Features & Specs:
– Dimensions of 10 x 6.6 x 6.6 FT

– 1 mesh zipper door and 6 windows. Made with a polyethylene film cover.

– Reinforced steel frame design that is 100% waterproof with 85% sun filtering.

– Comprehensive warranties

– Comes with a water sprayer (this is amazing)

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The KING BIRD Upgraded Large Walk-in Greenhouse is an exceptional choice for gardeners, offering robust construction and advanced features for effective plant cultivation. Its heavy-duty galvanized steel frame, significantly thicker than standard greenhouses, is reinforced with diagonal and vertical poles, ensuring superior stability. Included stakes and ropes further secure the greenhouse, making it suitable even in harsh weather conditions.

The UVI 6 protected, waterproof PE grid cover is a standout feature, providing excellent protection against harmful UV rays and extending the greenhouse’s lifespan. This reinforced cover is not only durable but also fits snugly over the frame, enhancing both warmth retention and wind resistance.

Temperature and humidity control is made easy with six roll-up screen windows and two door-netting, promoting healthy plant growth throughout the year. The greenhouse is designed to maintain optimal conditions, from early spring warmth to protection against winter cold. The two zipper roll-up screen doors offer additional ventilation and ease of access, with a multi-function design for temperature control and pest prevention.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon


Greenhouses offer a permanent structure that provides a controlled environment for year-round growing.

Permanent structure

A greenhouse is a permanent structure that is designed for long-term use. It is typically made of durable materials such as glass or polycarbonate panels and has a sturdy frame to withstand the elements.

With its solid construction, a greenhouse provides stability and protection for plants throughout the year. This makes it an ideal choice for growers who are looking for a more permanent solution to their gardening needs.

On the other hand, high tunnels are not considered permanent structures. They are usually made with lighter materials such as plastic covers stretched over metal frames. While they may not have the same level of durability as greenhouses, high tunnels offer flexibility and mobility.

Growers can easily move them around or dismantle them when necessary, allowing for greater adaptability in changing growing conditions.

The choice between a permanent greenhouse and a mobile high tunnel depends on factors such as budget, space availability, and intended usage. Growers who prioritize long-term investment and require year-round production may opt for a greenhouse due to its permanence and controlled environment capabilities.

However, those with limited resources or who need temporary protection from weather fluctuations may find high tunnels to be more cost-effective and practical.

Controlled environment

A key benefit of a greenhouse is its ability to provide a controlled environment for plant growth. With features like heaters, fans, and temperature control systems, growers can create the ideal conditions for their crops to thrive.

This means that even in extreme weather conditions or seasons with limited sunlight, plants can still be cultivated successfully. The controlled environment also allows for year-round growing, making greenhouses an excellent choice for those who want a continuous supply of fresh produce.

Additionally, the controlled environment helps protect plants from pests and diseases that may affect outdoor cultivation.

Year-round growing

Greenhouses have a distinct advantage when it comes to year-round growing. With their permanent structures and controlled environments, they provide the ideal conditions for plants to thrive throughout all seasons.

Greenhouses allow growers to regulate temperature, humidity, and light levels, ensuring optimal growth even during winter months. This means that crops can be harvested consistently without being affected by external weather conditions.

Whether for commercial production or personal gardening, greenhouses offer the opportunity to cultivate plants year-round, providing a constant supply of fresh produce regardless of the outdoor climate.

Looking for recommendations on the best greenhouse on the market?
The Best Polycarbonate Greenhouses To Buy In 2024 For People On A Budget


When deciding between the two – consider your size and space requirements, budget, purpose for use, and available resources for assistance to determine whether a high tunnel or greenhouse is the right choice for you.

Size and space

High tunnels and greenhouses come in a range of sizes to accommodate different gardening needs. When deciding between the two, it’s important to consider the amount of space you have available.

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High tunnels are generally more compact and suitable for smaller areas, making them a great choice for urban gardens or backyard setups. On the other hand, greenhouses can be larger structures that require more land or dedicated space.

So if you have plenty of room to spare, a greenhouse may be the better option for you.

When it comes to size and space, high tunnels offer flexibility as they can easily be adjusted and moved around if needed. This makes them ideal for growers who want the freedom to experiment with different layouts or relocate their gardening setup when necessary.

Budget

Both high tunnels and greenhouses come with their own costs, so considering your budget is an important factor when deciding between the two. High tunnels are generally more economical than greenhouses, even when equipped with all the defining features of a greenhouse.

The cost of high tunnels can vary depending on factors such as size, materials, and additional features. On the other hand, building a permanent structure like a greenhouse can be a bigger financial investment upfront.

So, if you have a limited budget or need something more temporary, a high tunnel might be the better choice for you.

Purpose

Growers must consider their specific purpose when choosing between a high tunnel and a greenhouse. High tunnels are ideal for those who want a cost-effective and temporary solution for extending their growing season or protecting crops from harsh weather conditions.

On the other hand, greenhouses are better suited for growers who require a permanent structure to provide a controlled environment for year-round production. The purpose of the grower will ultimately determine which option is best suited to their needs and preferences.

Resources for more assistance

There are several resources available to help growers make the decision between a high tunnel and a greenhouse. These resources include:

  1. Agricultural extension offices: These offices provide valuable information and expertise on various farming techniques, including the use of high tunnels and greenhouses.
  2. Online forums and communities: Joining online forums and communities allows growers to connect with experienced gardeners who can offer advice and share their experiences with high tunnels and greenhouses.
  3. Local gardening clubs: Gardening clubs often have members who have firsthand experience with both high tunnels and greenhouses. They can provide insights and recommendations based on their own growing practices.
  4. Workshops and seminars: Attending workshops or seminars hosted by agricultural organizations or universities is an excellent way to learn more about high tunnels and greenhouses, as well as gain practical knowledge from experts in the field.
  5. Manufacturer websites: Many manufacturers of high tunnels and greenhouse structures offer resources on their websites, including tutorials, guides, and FAQs, to help growers make informed decisions.
  6. Books and publications: There are numerous books, magazines, and online publications that focus on sustainable agriculture, controlled environment agriculture, horticulture, and hydroponics. These resources often cover topics related to choosing the right structure for plant cultivation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, when it comes to choosing between a high tunnel and a greenhouse, there is no clear winner. There can’t be because each structure has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. It ultimately depends on factors such as budget, space availability, and purpose.

Understanding the specific needs of your crops and your goals as a grower will help you make the best decision for your gardening endeavors. You can succeed (and be equally happy) with both, you just have to consider your unique circumstances.

FAQs

What is the difference between a high tunnel and a greenhouse?

A high tunnel is a simple structure with no heating or cooling systems, while a greenhouse is fully enclosed and can be temperature-controlled.

Which one is more cost-effective, a high tunnel or a greenhouse?

A high tunnel tends to be more cost-effective than a greenhouse because it requires less equipment and maintenance.

Can both a high tunnel and a greenhouse extend the growing season?

Yes, both a high tunnel and a greenhouse can extend the growing season by providing protection from harsh weather conditions.

Which option offers better control over climate conditions for plants?

A greenhouse offers better control over climate conditions as it allows for precise regulation of temperature, humidity, and ventilation.

Why would someone choose to use a high tunnel instead of a greenhouse?

Someone may choose to use a high tunnel instead of a greenhouse if they have limited budget or space constraints but still want some protection for their crops.

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Jason Watson

My initial goal was to protect my loved ones from harmful pesticides & help them enjoy nature more. Now, I want to tell as many people as I can about what I've learned... I hope that I can inspire you to help cool our planet with your own little slice of paradise 🌱. Let's do this together!


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