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Essential Things to Know to Build a Greenhouse

A greenhouse can make plants grow so much better.  With the humidity and warm air, plants have a better chance of surviving those cold, winter days.  Greenhouses also allow you to grow plants you couldn't grow otherwise, such as tropical fruit.  If a greenhouse sounds like something you may be interested in, read on.  This article is all about how to build a greenhouse, the supplies needed, and some design ideas.  I'll also go over the types of greenhouses so that you'll have an idea of which kind you want to build.  Are you ready to get started?  Let's take a look.

Types of Greenhouses

You probably may have only thought that there was one type of greenhouse:  The type with plastic covering a wooden/metal frame.  Maybe you also knew about the glass greenhouses. Well, those are just two of the many types of greenhouses.  Let's take a minute to look at each type.

Hoop House

This is probably the most common type of greenhouse.  It is in a tubular shape, and is rounded like a hoop, hence the name.  They most often have a plastic covering.

Underground Garden (Pit Garden)

A pit garden, also known as a underground garden, is built underground.  How is this possible?  Well, a machine will dig down into the ground as far as needed, and then you'll place a roof over the very large hole.  If you're wanting it to not be completely underground, you may use some posts to raise the roof slightly.  However you decide to build it, part of it is underground.

Image Source: Gardening Know How

Attached Greenhouse

An attached greenhouse is attached to a house, shed, or garage.  This type is usually made from glass.

Image Source: Lexis Greenhouses

Traditional Style

Traditional greenhouses can be made into many shapes and sizes.  Some are very large and look exactly like a house, while others are small and simple.

Image Source: BC Greenhouse

Growing Dome

A dome greenhouse is in the shape of a dome.  It will give your place an unique look, and can be a fun place to garden in.

Image Source: Akiro

Different Materials:

Besides the different styles, there are also different materials.  Here is a list of materials:

  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Fiberglass
  • Arcrylic
  • Double-layered polyethylene

For the frame, you can choose among these materials:

  • Wood
  • Alluminum
  • Iron
  • Plastic

Supplies Needed to Build Your Own

After taking a look at all those different types, you are probably convinced that the supplies you'll need will vary among each type.  That is why I'm going over how to build the most popular type of greenhouse:  The Hoop House.  Here are the supplies needed:

  • Rot resistant lumber
  • Screws
  • Ground pipes
  • Wooden stakes
  • 24 inch battens (if needed)
  • Metal banding
  • 2 PVC pipes
  • Hoop pipes
  • Plastic zip ties
  • Roll of plastic
  • Staples
  • Door hinges
  • Door handle

How to Build a Greenhouse

Now it's time to get building.  Hopefully you have gathered your supplies, because it is time to take a look at the steps to building a greenhouse.

Choose a Location

Start by choosing a location.  You will want the area to be flat, well-drained, and easy to reach.  You also want it to be stone free so that you can easily build a greenhouse.

Build Your Frame

No matter what size your hoop house is going to be, begin by creating a four-sided ground frame from rot-resistant lumber.  Make sure you build it in the size that you want your greenhouse to be.  Place 2-by-6s on their edge for houses 14 to 18 feet wide.  Use 2-by-4s for the ground frame on smaller hoop houses.  If the sides of the frame are longer than the lumber you have, use 24-inch battens to splice joints.  Set your frame in place, and then measure from corner to corner.  As long as opposite sides of the frame are equal in length, corners will be exactly 90 degrees if the corner-to-corner diagonal measurements are the same.  Drive temporary wooden stakes into the earth on the outside corners of the ground frame to prevent it from moving out of square.

Drive Ground Pipes Into Ground

Most ground pipes are 18 to 36 inch long pipes pounded vertically into the ground with a sledgehammer.  If your ground is hard, you may want shorter pipes and soak the area well to make driving the pipes easier.  Drive one ground pipe at each corner of the wooden frame and another every 3 feet along the long sides, all tight to the inside face of the ground frame.  Each pair of ground pipes will support one hoop pipe.

Raise Hoop Pipes

The length of your hoop pipes will depend on how big you plan on making your greenhouse.  Whatever size your hoops are, you will slide them over the ground pipes.  Screw a metal band around each hoop pipe so that they stay in place.

Secure Hoops

To secure the hoop pipes, connect two PVC pipes together and cut them to measure the length of your greenhouse.  You can attach them to the hoops with zip ties.

Build the End Wall

Now it is time to build a wall frame for the front of your greenhouse.  There are many different ways to build the wall.  Basically, you'll use 2 x 4s to create a frame for your door.  You'll need to attach that frame to something, so you'll need to make some sort of wall.  To find the best wall frame for you, search online for greenhouse plans.

Cover Greenhouse with Plastic

Drape the roll of plastic over the length of the greenhouse.  Make sure you have enough overlap at the ends to cover the end walls.  Pull the plastic snug and attach to 2 x 6s at each end using staples.  Do this at the center too, and then along the rest of the length of the greenhouse.

Build and Attach Door

Once the wall is built and the plastic is attached, you'll need to build and attach the door.  To build your door, first measure what the length and width of the door frame is.  Using four 2 x 4s, screw them together in the size needed.  Lay a 2×4 diagonally across the frame and screw it into place.  Screw the hinges onto the door.  Next, lay plastic over the door, leaving about 4 inches of plastic overhanging on each side.  Staple the plastic to the door.  Attach the door handle, and hang the door onto its frame.

Grow Some Veggies and Fruits!

You have completed making a hoop greenhouse.  Now it is time to grow some vegetables and fruits.  Great veggies to grow include peppers, carrots, beans, spinach, and cucumbers.  You can also grow fruit such as lemon trees, or even flowers if you want to grow cut flowers.

Image Source: Pexels

Greenhouse Design Ideas

Not all greenhouses have to be traditional looking.  Some can be made from windows, or even mason jars if you want a small container that has the same effect as a greenhouse.  As you'll see, you can even make a greenhouse from an umbrella!  Let's take a look at some creative greenhouse ideas.

Barn Greenhouse

A shed or barn can be a great place to grow plants.  This site goes through how to build one step by step.  If you are wanting to be extra creative, add some color to your barn greenhouse.

Image Source: Ana White

Umbrella Greenhouse

Is a greenhouse too expensive for you?  Don't worry, you can make one out of an umbrella.  To learn how, read the tutorial at Garden Therapy.

Image Source: Garden Therapy

Dome Greenhouse

A dome greenhouse can give your yard an unique look.  This type of greenhouse is also pretty easy to build.  Learn how to build it by clicking here.

Image Source: Northern Homestead

CD Case Greenhouse

Do you have some CD cases that you've been meaning to throw away?  Don't throw them away just yet, because you can make a beautiful greenhouse out of them.  Read the tutorial on how to build it by clicking here.

Image Source: Mega·Crafty

Mini Grenhouse

Create an adorable mini greenhouse by following the steps from Empress of Dirt.  This mini greenhouse is made from windows, chicken wire, and it is placed on a wooden table.

Image Source: Empress Of Dirt

Stylish Window Greenhouse

A window greenhouse is a great option, especially if you have extra windows that you don't need.  You can make your window greenhouse extra stylish by painting the window frames with creative colors.  By following this site's tutorial, you'll also find out how to turn your greenhouse into a fun place to hang out at.

Final Thoughts

Greenhouses allow you to plant vegetables in the fall, winter (depending on your growing zone), and/or early spring without you having to worry about them freezing.  There are many types of greenhouses, as well as many different types of materials to use.  In this article I have instructed you on how to build a greenhouse out of plastic, also known as a hoop house.  As you can see, building a greenhouse is fairly easy.  After only 9 steps, your greenhouse will be built.  Homemade greenhouses are also much cheaper than greenhouse kits, which can be thousands of dollars.

In this article I also went over different designs to inspire you.  Remember when building to be creative and unique.  Some greenhouses are made from windows, while others are made from umbrellas and CD cases.  You can make a greenhouse from almost anything.  Just use your imagination and have fun.  So go get building!  Your work will soon be rewarded with fresh veggies and fruits during the winter.

Image Source: Unsplash

Mariann Foster

I am one of our content writers for Everything Backyard. I am a mother and business owner of Big Horn Mountain Alpacas in Wyoming. I love farm life, cutting my own firewood in the mountains, and participating in local trail run races.

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