Build your own greenhouse : Choosing a Greenhouse, Where to Site?

Build your own greenhouse

Build your own greenhouse

If you’re handy with tools, Enter a greenhouse and you’ve crossed the threshold of an extraordinary place.

You now greet by a profusion of flowers and the rich textures of foliage.

Sweet fragrances mix with the earthy smell of soil.

Diffused light shines through the misty air.

In the silence, you can almost hear the plants growing.

Traffic rumbles by unnoticed, and the distractions of the “real” world seem miles away.

Although the experience is similar from greenhouse to greenhouse, the structures themselves are amazingly diverse.

They can be large and complex or small and simple.

They can be unheated or heated, built of glass or covered in plastic.

You’ll find greenhouses on city rooftops and tucked into suburban gardens.

No two are identical, even if they’re constructed from the same kit, the contents of a greenhouse make it unique.

aluminum framed greenhouse

aluminum framed greenhouse / Build your own greenhouse

Some house vegetables (tomatoes and cucumbers), some shelter tropicals (scheffleras and dieffenbachias), and some are home to flats of germinating begonias.

This section is focused on leading you through the many variables among greenhouses.

Finding the perfect structure for you and what you want to grow means making the right decisions along the way.

The sections that follow

will help you Build your own greenhouse. In this article :

Choosing a Greenhouse

Where to Site Your Greenhouse

Greenhouse Elements

Greenhouse Styles

Gallery of Greenhouses

Choosing a Greenhouse

Greenhouses can take many forms, from simple, three-season A-frame structures to elaborate buildings the size of a small backyard.

They can be custom designed or built from a kit, freestanding or attached, framed in metal or wood, glazed with plastic or glass.

Spend a little time researching online greenhouse suppliers and you’ll discover almost unlimited options.

Although it’s important to choose a design that appeals to you and complements your house and yard, you’ll need to consider many other factors when making a decision.

Answering the following questions will help you determine the type, style, and size of greenhouse that suits your needs.

How Will the Greenhouse Be Used?

What do you plan to grow in your greenhouse?

Are you mostly interested in extending the growing season seeding flats of bedding plants early in the spring and protecting them from frost in the fall?

Or do you want to grow flowers and tropical plants year-round?

Your intentions will determine whether you need to Build your own greenhouse.

Unheated greenhouses, which depend solely on solar heat, are used primarily to advance or extend the growing season of hardy and half-hardy plants and vegetables.

Although an unheated greenhouse offers some frost protection, it is useful only during spring, summer, and fall, unless you live in a warm climate.

Build your own greenhouse far more versatile and allows you to grow a greater variety of plants.

By installing equipment for heating, ventilation, shading, and watering, you can provide the perfect environment for tender plants that would never survive freezing weather.


The cost of a basic freestanding greenhouse can range from the very economical (plastic sheeting and PVC hoop frame) to the surprisingly expensive (customdesigned and built).

It all depends on your tastes and aspirations, and on your budget.

The following real life samples will give you a sense of the cost variations (remember, though, that prices can vary widely, depending on features and accessories you choose to include).

How you plan to Build your own greenhouse will also determine its size, type, and location.

If you only want to harden off seedlings or extend the growing season for lettuce plants and geraniums, a small, unheated structure covered with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheeting or even a cold frame a glass or plastictopped box on the ground might be all you need.

If your intentions are more serious, consider a larger, more permanent building.

A three season greenhouse can be placed anywhere on your property.

And might even be dismantled in the winter, whereas year round use calls for a location near the house, where utilities are convenient and you don’t have to trek a long way in inclement weather.

Do I Want a Lean to or a Freestanding Greenhouse?

Build your own greenhouse styles are divided into two main groups:

attached lean to and freestanding.

Lean to are attached to the house, the garage, or an outbuilding, usually on a south-facing wall.

An attached greenhouse has the advantage of gaining heat from the house.

It’s also conveniently close to plumbing, heating, and electrical services, which are required to operate a heated greenhouse.

Lean to come in just as many variations as full scale freestanding greenhouses do.

This means you can find or build a lean to that suits an endor side wall space and the style of your home.

As with greenhouses, lean to can be simple enclosed structures meant to be used in three seasons or they can include vent fans, misters, heaters, and the other accessories that increase the usefulness of the structure.

On the downside, lean-tos can be restricted by the home’s design.

They should be built from materials that complement the existing structure, and a low-slung roofline or limited exterior wall space can make them difficult to gracefully incorporate. Siting can be tricky if the only available wall faces an undesirable direction.

In cold climates, they must be protected from heavy snow sliding from the house roof.

Lean to are typically smaller than freestanding greenhouses and can be subject to overheating if they aren’t vented properly.

Standalone greenhouses can be portable or permanent.

It’s wise to keep that in mind if you anticipate moving in the near future or just aren’t certain exactly where you want to fit the greenhouse into your existing landscape.

A freestanding greenhouse can be sited anywhere on the property and is not restricted by the home’s design.

It can be as large or as small as the yard permits.

Because all four sides are glazed, it receives maximum exposure to sunlight.

However, a freestanding structure is more expensive to build and heat, and depending on its size, it may require a concrete foundation.

Utilities must be brought in, and it is not as convenient to access as a lean to.

Because it is more exposed to the elements, it can require sturdier framing and glazing to withstand winds.

You can also secure lighter greenhouses with an anchoring system.

How Big Should the Greenhouse Be?

In all likelihood, you’ll shop for a greenhouse that fits the “hobby” category.

Larger, estate greenhouses are categorized as “conservatories,” while much smaller greenhouses, which are usually portable, are labeled “mini.”

Some experts recommend buying the largest greenhouse you can afford, but this isn’t always the best advice.

You don’t want to invest in a large greenhouse only to discover that you’re not up to the work it involves.

Of course, buying a greenhouse that is too small can lead to frustration if your plant collection outgrows the space.

It is also much more difficult to control the temperature.

One compromise is to buy a greenhouse that’s one size larger than you originally planned, or better yet, to invest in an expandable structure.

Many models are available as modules that allow additions as your enthusiasm grows.

When choosing a greenhouse, take into account the size of your property.

How much space will the greenhouse structure consume?

Most of the expense comes from operating the greenhouse, especially during winter.

The larger the structure, the more expensive it is to heat.

Be sure the greenhouse has enough room for you to work.

Allow space for benches, shelves, tools, pots, watering cans, soil, hoses, sinks, and a pathway through the plants.

If you want benches on both sides, choose a greenhouse that is at least 8 feet wide by 10 feet long.

Give yourself enough headroom, and allow extra height if you are growing tall plants or plan to hang baskets.

How Much Can you Afford to Spend to Build your own greenhouse?

Your budget will influence the type of structure you choose.

A simple hoop greenhouse with a plastic cover is inexpensive and easy to build.

If you’re handy with tools, you can save money by buying a kit, but if the greenhouse is large, requires a concrete foundation, or is built from scratch.

Maybe you may need to hire a contractor, which will add to the cost.

Greenhouse Location is important

In a windy area, you’ll need a sturdy structure.

Buying a cheaply made greenhouse will not save you money if it fails to protect your plants or blows away in a storm.

And cutting costs by using inefficient glazing will backfire because you’ll wind up paying more for heating, Build your own greenhouse.