Many gardeners dream of someday having their own greenhouse, especially if they live in a colder climate. In this do-it-yourself tutorial, you’ll learn how to make a homemade greenhouse in just 5 easy steps. In addition, you’ll discover the benefits that ensue when growing plants inside these structures.
Benefits of Growing Plants in a Greenhouse
The advantages of growing your plants inside a greenhouse are endless! These structures open up many doors to beyond what you can achieve in a traditional outdoor garden. For example, you can take advantage of the following benefits:
- Grow varieties your zone can’t support outdoors: A greenhouse allows you to house your plants in a safe, temperature-controlled area. This means that you can plant varieties with different needs than your yard has to offer. Now, you can experiment with new, exotic plants you wouldn’t otherwise be able to grow.
- Extend your growing season: You can grow plants that require warmer temperatures throughout the winter even in cold climates, as the temperature won’t vary as much inside a greenhouse.
- Weather is always permitting: Gardening in bad weather is difficult, but a greenhouse allows you to care for your plants as needed. It also protects tender seedlings from the elements, and inclement weather.
And there are even more benefits:
- Protect your plants from pests: Insects and animals that would prey on your plants can’t get inside a greenhouse. As such, they’ll be protected from caterpillars, moles, squirrels, and deer. You’ll no longer need dangerous pesticides, which is always a bonus.
- Trap beneficial insects inside for your needs: The walls of a greenhouse allow you to bring in the beneficial insects that’ll help your plants. Alternatively, those that can combat nuisance insects, such as ladybugs sorting out an aphid problem.
- Easy to customize: No matter your needs, you can customize your homemade greenhouse to align with the types of plants you want to grow.
- Save money on food and energy bills: A homemade greenhouse allows you to grow the foods you would normally buy at your local supermarket all year round. Additionally, you can cut back on your utility bills by conserving water.
- Stress relief and relaxation: Gardening is proven to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation, which are two contributing factors to a happier, healthier life.
Types of Greenhouse Structures
A greenhouse is a structure that commonly includes rafters, side posts, an end wall, side walls, and purlins (beams that reach the rafters horizontally). Your homemade greenhouse’s design will determine how productive and energy-efficient the space is. As a result, the design may impact the type of materials you’ll need.
Three main types of greenhouses for home use include:
- Lean-to: Attached to your house, this type of greenhouse is mostly used to house a personal garden.
- Detached: Larger structures that can be placed anywhere on your property. They’re also used for commercial purposes.
- Gutter-connected: Less likely to see in a home greenhouse, gutter-connected greenhouses connect multiple, large spaces to grow a huge amount of plants. You can, however, have multiple tiny gutter-connected greenhouses as well, but they’re less common.
Tools and Materials Needed for Your Homemade Greenhouse
The materials you select for your greenhouse will determine how effective it is later, as the environment you create will help your plants succeed. You’ll need materials for the main structure, covering, and floor.
To build a homemade greenhouse, you’ll need a few tools, including:
- Hack saw
- Cordless drill
- Hand gardening tools, such as a hand shovel
Collect the following materials before you begin this tutorial:
- Cable ties
- Shade cloth (cover)
- 2 pieces of conduit
- 4 planks
- 4 hula hoops
- 8 iron bars
- 4 corner brackets
- Potted plants of your choice
Alternative Materials for Building Your Homemade Greenhouse
Many of the materials you select may depend on your budget, as well as the size of structure you envision. Greenhouses can range from being large, house-like buildings to smaller structures just big enough for a few tiny plants.
Consider the following common alternative materials for your homemade greenhouse, but keep in mind that swaying from those in this tutorial will change the steps needed. You may also need the help of a contractor or other professional if you want an extensive, large, or luxury greenhouse.
The main option for a greenhouse cover is glass, which lasts a long period of time and look beautiful. Glass retains sunlight and helps the greenhouse remain warm throughout the coldest winter months, but it doesn’t diffuse light. If you use glass, you’ll need to choose between single or double panes as well. However, there are also plastic, fiberglass, and double-layered polyethylene options available.
The cover you select is perhaps the most important choice for your homemade greenhouse. In simplest terms, it will determine both the amount of light your plants receive, and the entire efficiency of your space. You want enough light to pass through to keep your plants alive, but too much direct sunlight will cook them.
This is the best option, as it can handle heavy snow and is perfect for cold-climate greenhouses. This fabric is translucent and treated with UV stabilizers to give your plants the light they need, while reducing the amount of yellowing as the fabric ages. It’s flame retardant—which home insurance companies love—and it’s easy and quick to install alone.
Plastic is the cheapest choice, while fiberglass may become discolored over time and polyethylene requires replacement every few years. PVC fabric or glass covers are the most expensive, but they hold up well over time.
Polyethylene covers, on the other hand, are lightweight, cheap, and easy to use. They allow carbon dioxide and oxygen to pass through and give the plants some breathing room. Plus, they come in customizable materials. Some offer coating such as a UV stabilizer to reduce yellowing or sun degradation, while others diffuse light or provide anti-drip coatings to prevent condensation build up.
The main structure of a greenhouse is usually made from wood, aluminum, plastic, or galvanized steel. The material that’s best for your greenhouse depends on the type of cover you want to use. For example, polyethylene sheets or PVC fabric work well with steel. Plastic is a good budget-friendly option as well because it won’t rot from water the way wood can over time.
Options for the framework commonly include wood, iron, aluminum, and plastic. Depending on the one you choose, you may have curved or flat eaves, and each option comes with benefits and disadvantages. Wood, for example, rots easily, while plastic doesn’t hold up well over time.
Most greenhouses use concrete or porous concrete for the floor. That said, you can also use dirt or gravel if you’re on a budget, or making a tiny greenhouse. The type of material you choose for the floor affects both light transmission, and how the space holds in heat.
Gravel and dirt won’t hold in heat the way concrete can, and they’re not as great at protecting your plants from outside pests. Porous concrete is perhaps the best option because it protects plants from pests, allows water to drain rather than puddle up, and locks in heat better.
If you have a large budget, you can install automatic controls to control the heating and cooling. The equipment required to control the environment can include a space heater or forced-air heating or cooling systems that require a professional for installation. There are also steam or hot water systems, radiant heat, or soil heating pipes you can install under the plants.
Automatic watering is another nice feature in huge greenhouses, which can take a great deal of time to care for. Lights, windows, and ventilation are also important considerations.
5 Easy Steps to Build a Homemade Greenhouse
After you’ve considered all the features you want and drawn up your plans, it’s time to build. Here’s how to get started on your own homemade greenhouse:
Step 1: Create a Raised Garden Bed
Start by creating a raised garden bed or plant box out of the planks you’ve acquired. Assemble the wood planks in a square, and drill holes into the corners to attach the brackets and screws. Connect the planks to form a box. Then, use the iron bars as stakes to hold the corners in place, using your mallet.
Step 2: Transfer the Potted Plants
Once the box is built, add soil and compost into the bed and begin transferring your plants.
Step 3: Finish the Greenhouse Frame
Use the hula hoops to create an easy greenhouse frame. All you have to do is cut the hula hoop near the connector piece and slide both ends into the iron bars located at each corner of the box. Alternate frames may last longer, but this option is easy and works well for a single season.
Step 4: Create the Shade Cloth
The shade cloth slides over the hula hoop frame to offer protection for your plants. Just measure the sides of the frame and cut out semi-circles to lay across the top, securing them using cable ties. Simply lay a piece of cloth conduit across the frame and cut out another piece of cloth to create the roof.
Step 5: Attach Your Finishing Touches
Finally, cut the hosepipe into 6-inch-long small pieces and cut those along the middle. Use a clamp to close the open sides of your greenhouse with the pieces you cut. Lay the final piece of shade cloth across the bottom, then roll and tie up the pieces using cable ties to create rolling sides.
A Final Word
You can customize your homemade greenhouse by using different materials and shapes. If you’re looking for a larger or more in-depth tutorial, check out these easy and free DIY plans.