Last updated on June 8th, 2022
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A solid cold frame will protect plants from frost and helps extend the growing season in early spring and into the autumn. The cold frame encompasses the plants, protecting them from harsh weather that will cause them damage but it’s more about protecting them from frost.
Cold frames are available in different designs and shapes so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a model that will suit the type of plants you are working with. Whether you are starting off with peas, your favourite vegetables or even cuttings, finding a reliable cold frame will prove very useful.
If you are in the market looking for a cold frame then you have come to the right place. We have completed hours of testing figuring out what the best cold frame would look like. The information we gathered is presented below to help you select a model that works, is generally fit for its purpose and is sturdy enough. First things first, take a peep at our best performing cold frames that include:
Our best pick is the Gardman GAST1 Wooden Cold Frame, which is spacious, robust when belt and a fan-favourite but is a little light.
The runner up is the Rowlinson Timber Cold frame is the perfect option for those looking for a natural finish wooden cold frame and one with a little more height for taller plants.
Lastly, the Hall Jumbo Cold frame takes the award for the best aluminium cold frame and is something that should outlast most models with next to no treatment needed.
BEST ALUMINIUM PICK
Another alternative to a cold frame is using a mini grow house. Read my guide here where I talk about the pros and show you have easy they are to put together, step by step, with my very own, grow house.
You can also consider a pop-up greenhouse, multi-functional and more height – Read my review of the best pop up greenhouses
Top 6 Best Cold Frames For Protecting Plants
1. Gardman GAST1 Wooden Cold Frame
The Gardman GAST1 Wooden Cold Frame is made from FCS certified timber and durable polycarbonate. The twin polycarbonate walls allow light in while still protecting the plants from the cold. It measures about 40 tall by 100cm wide by 65cm deep and it weighs around 1kg. It is considerably lightweight and therefore, it needs to be secured to the ground to prevent the wind from blowing it away or placed in a sheltered position. Alternatively, you could buy some MDF and make a base because, not only will this make it heavier, but also help keep out slugs and snails.
This cold frame model has been treated to protect the wood from the elements but we would recommend doing this with all wooden models anyway, so it isn’t really a deal-breaker. It can be kept outdoors all year round. It is, however, important to apply more protective coats over time to prevent the wood from long term damage. This cold frame features a lid that possesses locking stays. These locking stays allow you to open the lid as much or as little as you want for ventilation purposes which is a system that works well.
- Made from sustainable FSC timber that is durable.
- Features twin polycarbonate walls that protect the plants from the cold.
- Possesses locking stays to facilitate ventilation at several positions.
- Lightweight and easy to assemble (10-15 minutes).
- Easy to clean and maintain.
- Provides good value for money.
- Needs to be secured in windy situations because it is a little lightweight.
The Gardman GAST1 Wooden Cold Frame is made from quality materials and thus you are guaranteed durability. It is a little light but for the cost, it’s well worth the price. This model does not have a base and it can be secured to the floor to prevent it from moving around should you need to. As mentioned earlier, you could also consider making a floor from some MDF timber which makes it heavier and more stable, as well as helps keep out the slugs and snails.
If you have a small number of plants to protect from the cold, then this model is perfect. It cannot hold plants that are too tall so be sure that the measurements of the cold frame will suit your needs. If you live in windy areas, securing this cold frame is a must, otherwise, it will just go with the wind. Perfect for starting cuttings and seedlings.
2. Rowlinson Timber Cold Frame
Introducing the Rowlinson Timber Cold Frame / Mini Greenhouse that is made entirely out of FSC certified wood. The wood used is pressure treated to make it stronger against the elements and protect it from rotting. This cold frame model is made out of thick timber which ensures it remains robust, helps your plants to retain heat and grow healthily and protect them from the frost.
There are two independent lids that you can adjust according to what you are planting. Each lid has a Perspex glazing top that allows light to get to the plants for effective growth. You can adjust each lid into two pre-determined positions by adjusting the wooden lever provided. This model weighs 13kgs and measures 102cm x 69cm x 51cm, and there is more than enough space to house several plants. It is especially useful for taller plants that standard cold frames are too low to accommodate.
- Made from durable timber with a natural finish.
- The wood used is pressure treated to avoid rotting and pests.
- Comes with two individual lids with two closure settings.
- Sold at an affordable price.
- Provides enough room to house several plants, especially taller ones.
- The lids feature Perspex glazing that allows light into the cold frame.
- Easy to assemble.
The Rowlinson Timber Cold frame is robust and stable in strong winds and is the tallest model in this guide at 4ft tall. The 13kg wood frame is also one of the heaviest and most spacious, so you can have as many plants as you can comfortably fit in there. We love the lids with the Perspex glazing as it is more durable than glass and just safer in general, especially if you have little helpers on hand. If anything drops on the lids at least you can be confident there will be no significant damage.
For those who live in windy areas, the weight of this cold frame is perfect because it allows the cold frame to be stable. No matter how strong the winds are, it is difficult for the cold frame to be blown over. This model may be supplied without instructions and may make assembly a bit challenging. However, you can find instructions online or call a handy friend to come to help you out. Other than that minor flaw, this cold frame is perfect.
3. Hall Jumbo Cold frame with Toughened Glass
BEST ALUMINIUM PICK
The Hall Jumbo Cold frame is perfect if you want to completely enclose your plants but still let them get as much light as possible. It’s also a perfect example of a traditional model and one that could outlive you. As the saying goes, ‘they don’t make things like they used to’, well this is the exception. This model is made of toughened glass that is supported by an aluminium rustproof frame.
The design of the cold frame apex roof permits you to house some medium to taller-sized plants. Because the lid cannot remain open by itself, you will have to find something that can be used as a wedge if you want to keep the lid open. A little trick is to use a chain with hooks on both sides which you can place over two opened window lids and are opposite each other to prevent them both from closing.
The cold frame when assembled measures a length of 120.5cm x 78cm deep x 67cm high so to give you an idea, it is just over 4ft wide. The glass used has been toughened to provide longevity. The glass can take some impact but it is susceptible to damage if too much force is used. Along with a set of instructions is a free set of polycarbonate that you can use at your disposal so at least you have spares.
- Made from toughened glass for durability and includes spare polycarbonate windows you can use instead.
- Features an apex roof to house taller plants.
- Easy to assemble.
- Requires little to no maintenance.
- The lid cannot stay open without using a prop.
The Hall Jumbo Cold frame is durable and it can house a large number of plants at 4ft wide. For those who want to emulate greenhouse conditions for their plants and appreciate a good quality cold house, this model would suit the purpose well. The apex roofed cold frame possesses an aluminium frame that supports the glass panels and roof effectively. The glass is reinforced to reduce its susceptibility to damage and it allows adequate light in for the plants to flourish.
You will pay more for this model compared to the wooden cold frames because of the material used but we think it’s worth every penny. At least you are guaranteed that the cold frame will hold its own and not get blown away by the wind. We would recommend this model to those in search of a glass cold frame that requires no maintenance.
4. Woodside Cold Frame
The Woodside Cold Frame measures 100cm long by 65cm wide and 40cm tall providing enough space for most gardeners. This cold frame model is made from a wooden frame and polycarbonate panels. The wood supports the panels ensuring that the plants are protected from the elements whether rain or snow.
As with all models, the English rainy weather can make wood disintegrate quickly if left unprotected. That is why the wood used to make this frame has been treated to ensure that it can survive against pests and rot. You should continue to apply protective coats to keep the wood protected over the years if you want it to last for many years to come, however, this is the same for nearly all wooden models.
The cold frame is designed to hold small-medium sized plants. It comes with locking stays to prop the lid open. This easy to maintain cold frame can be secured to the floor to hinder any unwanted movement. For those who have many plants that require a cold frame, you can purchase two of these at an affordable price.
- It is spacious and can hold many small plants.
- Made of treated wood and polycarbonate panels that let in light.
- Comes with locking stays to keep the lid open for air circulation.
- Easy to maintain.
- Provides good value for money.
- Can be secured to the floor to prevent unnecessary movement.
- It may be a little more flimsy than you might expect.
Sometimes what you pay for is what you get. The Woodside Cold Frame is affordable and the quality is manageable. You may have to do a few reinforcements here and there if you have curious pets around that like to jump on things. This model would be perfect for a cold frame situated in a sheltered position. Otherwise, it is a decent cold frame sold at a good price.
5. Garden Grow Wooden Cold Frame
The Garden Grow Wooden Cold Frame is a simple structure that will house different sizes of plants. This model is made from a wooden frame with polycarbonate panelling that allows light in. The wood used needs to be treated to prevent it from getting damaged by pests and too much moisture.
This cold frame is lightweight and it measures L90 x W48 x H49.5cm, you will have to find a way to anchor it down to prevent unnecessary movement. If you have it on soft ground this can be easily done with some pegs and eye hole screws. It comes with a lid with one locking stay which may not support the lid fully over time. You can get another locking stay and prop the lid open for easy accessibility when tending to the plants.
- Made from fir wood frame and polycarbonate panels.
- Features a locking stay to open the lid but ideally could do with 2.
- Offers adequate space to hold short and tall plants.
- Comes with a 1-year guarantee for full peace of mind.
- Requires two stays to fully support the lid properly.
The Garden Grow Wooden Cold Frame is suitable if you need something temporary. This affordable model is made of light materials but for the price, it’s not a bad product and gets the job done. It is easy to assemble and it offers adequate space for different sizes of plants.
For those seeking a dedicated cold frame, this needs treating first because the wood is not treated to withstand the elements outside. You may have a few challenges here and there with this cold frame but with a bit of ingenuity, nothing is impossible and for the price, it’s not a bad choice.
6. Rowlinson Hardwood Cold frameNo products found.
The Rowlinson Hardwood Cold frame takes growing season elongation to the next level. This primarily wood and polycarbonate cold frame comes with two independently adjustable lids and a central double door. The double doors together with the independent lids allow the user to tend to the plants without any hindrance. They are also great when looking to promote air circulation among the plants.
Another admirable feature is the three slatted design shelves that hold plants of different sizes. The slatted shelves permit air circulation and also light penetration to the plants at the bottom shelf. You can secure your plants from pets and toddlers by locking the doors and the lid. This high-quality model measures 120cm H x 69cm W x 49cm D and it is easy to assemble.
- Made from a hardwood frame and polycarbonate panels.
- Comes with three slated shelves to store various plants.
- Features independently adjustable lids and a double door.
- Offers lockable doors and lids for security.
- Easy to assemble.
- The wood needs protective coatings to survive year-round use outdoors.
The Rowlinson Hardwood Cold frame is completely different from the other cold frames featured in this review. This is because it is the only model that has shelves and a base and is more of a mini greenhouse design. To put it better it feels like a hybrid between a cold frame and a small greenhouse. We love that the lids can be opened or closed independently and that the doors are lockable.
We would recommend this model to those who need a cold frame with a base and shelves for different plants. The price is a bit high and the wood requires a bit of maintenance, but other than that, it offers good value for money.
No products found.
There are many cold frames available on the market, but what matters is that you get the best cold frame for your needs. Before selecting a cold frame model, you have to make a few logical considerations. By taking time to understand the features you require from a cold frame, you will be able to navigate easily through different products noting what you like and do not like. Some of the important considerations to make include:
The material used to make the cold frame is important because it determines the durability of the model and the conditions that your plants will grow in. You want to select a material that not only allows light in but it can properly insulate the plants from the elements.
Wooden frames are believed to be the best because of their ability to retain heat. Whether you are using a pure wooden cold frame or one that has polycarbonate panels, your plants should be completely protected from the cold. The best wooden cold frame will possess some panels of polycarbonate or glass to let light through to the plants.
There is the option to select a cold frame that includes a metallic aluminium frame. These types of models are usually fitted with glass or polycarbonate panels that allow light in. Models that possess a metallic frame are usually robust, especially if the cold frame is designed for year-round outdoor use.
Think of how long you want to use the cold frame and think of its positioning whether indoors or outdoors. If you are looking for something that will last decades then the quality of the materials has to be fantastic.
Aluminium cold frames are also maintenance-free, unlike wooden alternatives that need treating once a year if you want them to last many years.
The location of your cold frame is important because it determines the amount of light that gets to the plants. It is advised that you place your cold frame facing the south to maximise the amount of sun the plants get. It is also important to place the cold frame away from human traffic or animal activity to prevent any physical impact that might damage the cold frame, especially glass ones. Also, place the cold frame in an area that allows easy accessibility between the greenhouse and the cold frame to minimise exposure to cold during winter.
Size of plants
What type of plants are being kept in the cold frames? Are the plants generally small plants such as seedlings or cuttings or are you overwintering some taller plants like geraniums? Understanding the general size of the plant will help you select a frame size that can comfortably accommodate the height. There are cold frames designed with an apex roof like the Hall Jumbo Cold frame. These types of cold frames provide adequate space to hold both tall and short plants.
Finding a cold frame that possesses a robust lid allows you to use the cold frame as much as you want with little damage. Flimsy lids tend to collapse over time leaving the plants susceptible to the elements. Look for lids that can be easily propped open for ventilation and easy access to the plants. Models like the Gardman GAST1 Wooden Cold Frame come with locking stays to prop the lid open as wide as you want.
For those who want to find a cold frame that has individual lids for sectioning, make sure that the lids can be propped up independently like the ones found in the Tasker 3.5 Ft W x 3.5 Ft D Cold Frame.
Whether it is made of wood or it is the best aluminium cold frame, durability is important. Regardless of the material used to make the cold frame, the cold frame has to be able to survive the outdoors. Before purchasing a cold frame model confirm if it is intended for year-round use or just for a season.
If the cold frame is designed to handle year-round use outdoors then you have nothing to worry about. Flimsy cold frames may require regular maintenance to keep up with the elements.
Many cold frames come requiring assembly before they are used. If you are not the handiest person around there is no need of getting complex cold frames. Read through customer reviews for your potential cold frame before purchase to see if there are any problems with assembly. If you like the cold frame but the assembly might be difficult then you can call in a handy person to assist.
You will find that some models like the Rowlinson Hardwood Cold frame come with lockable doors and lids. This lockable feature protects the plants from unwarranted access from animals or children.
Another additional feature that you can find in a cold frame is a base which is convenient if you want to turn the cold frame into a raised bed kit.
Also, additional shelves go a long way in providing additional storage for plants or gardening tools that you need nearby.
Tips for using a cold frame
- Always select a location that allows the plants to absorb as much light as required.
- Remember to ventilate the plants on hot days to prevent overheating.
- Avoid placing things on the cold frame lid because it may block the plants from getting enough light.
- Pick a material that will offer insulation for the plants even in the dead of winter.
- Don’t forget to tend to the plants over long periods as they might die off.
- Clean the cold frame regularly with something like Jeyes Fluid to reduce plant infections or mould.
- Convert a simple wooden cold frame into a raised bed kit if you no longer require the cold frame.
- Do not overpopulate the cold frame with many plants as there will be competition for oxygen.
There are very many cold frames available on the market so you are not limited to the ones presented here. Look for a model that will not only satisfy your plant’s needs but is also appealing to the eye. It is not hard to find the best cold frame if you adhere to the information presented in this review.
Our best pick the Gardman GAST1 Wooden Cold Frame proves that it is not only a favourite with the customers but it also provides good value for money.
Our runner up, the Rowlinson Timber Cold frame, is made from durable wood and quality Perspex glaze lids. This model provides good insulation and it is perfect for year-round use.
Finally, the Hall Jumbo Cold frame is the best option for those looking for an aluminium cold frame. With that being said, we hope you have spotted a potential cold frame that will work for you.
Since we are promoting the healthy growth of plants without being affected by the elements, check out these raised bed kits and see what you think. That is all from us as we wish you a fruitful planting season.
Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API