How to Build a Greenhouse
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Avid gardeners might dream of a space to pursue their hobby year-round. Of course, it takes a handy person to know how to build a greenhouse suitable for healthy plants.
Greenhouse construction is more than simply erecting a four-sided structure with a cover in your backyard — it requires careful planning, the proper materials, and other essential elements for optimal plant growth. For instance, plants need ample sunlight, but greenhouses must also have adequate ventilation to prevent overheating in the warmer season.
If you’re ready to build a greenhouse, this guide will provide you with the most crucial recommendations and tips.
Things to Consider When Building a Greenhouse
Before building a greenhouse, it’s essential to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want a free-standing or attached greenhouse?
- How much sun does your yard receive?
- What is the climate where you live?
- Do you plan to have in-ground beds, raised beds, or potted plants in your greenhouse?
- How much space do you need?
- What materials and tools do you require?
- Do you have experience building things or need a greenhouse kit?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a much better idea of how to build a greenhouse that best aligns with your gardening needs.
How to Build a Greenhouse: 5 Steps
Want to know how to build a greenhouse? These five steps will walk you through the process.
1. Choose Your Ideal Location
The first step to building a greenhouse is selecting the ideal location. Your greenhouse will perform well with enough sunlight, drainage, and access to electricity and water.
The best location for your greenhouse is usually the south or southeast part of your home, which often gets the most sunlight from November to February — the east side of the house is the second best, while the north side gets the least sunlight.
Depending on what you intend to grow in your greenhouse, most plants need about six hours of direct sunlight — significant for herbs.
Adequate drainage is equally vital to ensure the greenhouse doesn’t get muddy and slippery. Aside from regular precipitation patterns, watering your plants could also oversaturate and damage the greenhouse floor.
Build your greenhouse somewhere you can install a proper drainage system. A drainage system will carry excess water away from the greenhouse and keep the surrounding area dry.
Electricity and Water
Of course, when learning how to build a greenhouse, it’s essential not to overlook accessibility to electricity and a water supply. Greenhouses will require some heat, especially during the colder months — you may be able to pull heat from your home to an attached structure. Otherwise, an electrician can wire a free-standing greenhouse for optimal temperature control.
Additionally, ensure your water supply reaches the greenhouse for regular watering — this could be a hose or installed ceiling sprinkler system.
2. Select Your Structure
Determine the measurements of your greenhouse structure, including the prospective layout — garden beds, supply storage, and walkways. A small greenhouse will be sufficient for growing herbs and a couple of vegetables or flowers.
Those with little construction experience might consider a greenhouse kit to make their lives easier. You can purchase a simple or more durable greenhouse kit from home improvement stores or online.
Greenhouse kits usually cost between $300 and $19,450, depending on the size, type, and other amenities. Of course, adding electricity to your greenhouse will cost more. Take your necessities into consideration and do your research to determine what greenhouse kit is best suited for your gardening goals.
3. Choose Materials
Selecting the proper greenhouse materials mainly comes down to climate, budget, and the types of plants you hope to grow. Does your region have harsh winters? Are you looking for something inexpensive? You’ll also need to think about light transmission, energy efficiency and its life span.
If you can afford it, acrylic covers have excellent light transmission and durability and are lightweight and attractive. Unlike glass, it’s less fragile and long-lasting, capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions. Other cover materials include fiberglass, polyethylene, polycarbonate, and single- or double-pane glass.
Framing materials are equally important. Aluminum framing is lightweight and easy to cut — it’s also the longest-lasting framing material for your greenhouse. However, aluminum conducts heat more than other materials. Wood, steel, and PVC are also popular framing materials — other than steel, wood and PVC usually succumb to the elements and require replacing.
You might opt for concrete, vinyl tile, or gravel flooring materials. Vinyl tiles are easy to lay and waterproof. It’s also easy to clean. Yet, if you’re looking for the most budget-friendly option, gravel has excellent drainage and is the easiest on your wallet.
4. Ensure Temperature Control
Regardless of the materials used, your greenhouse will get hot when the sun hits it throughout the day. Of course, that means your plants will wilt and dry out after some time. Your greenhouse could get 10° to 20° Fahrenheit hotter during a heat wave than at other times, so you’ll want to install a fan or windows for a cross breeze.
Even during the winter, outside air is crucial for reducing fungal growth. Fungi grow 90% faster with high humidity and condensation in the air.
For some people, maintaining temperature control in your greenhouse will require trial and error to achieve plant health. However, there are tools and strategies than can help.
5. Plan Your Interiors
Once you’ve constructed your greenhouse, it’s time to plan your interiors and start growing. Arrange your garden beds and install shelving for potted plants. Remember that companion planning is best for plant growth and improves soil fertility for your indoor garden. It also reduces the likelihood of your plants developing diseases or attracting pests.
Greenhouse plants are often susceptible to aphids, mealybugs, mites, thrips, and leafminers. In fact, aphids —also known as plant lice — can give birth to six to 10 females daily a week after their own birth, accumulating quickly and taking over the plant.
Build Your Own Greenhouse
Plant lovers might regard greenhouses as a residential luxury to feed their passion and love for gardening. If you know how to build a greenhouse, you can reap the rewards of year-round plant growth.
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About the author
Steve is the Managing Editor of Environment.co and regularly contributes articles related to wildlife, biodiversity, and recycling. His passions include wildlife photography and bird watching.