high-tunnel greenhouse

How to Set Up a Large, High-Tunnel Greenhouse

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Owning your own greenhouse is a great way to extend the growing season so you can have fresh, delicious vegetables all year long.

It’s also a wonderful way to improve your yields so you can sell produce to others, if that’s something you’d like to do.

What Does it Cost to Build a DIY Greenhouse?

In most cases, you can build a DIY greenhouse for under $1000. This will depend on the size as well as the quality of your materials.

Plastic is one of the most difficult items to save money on – unfortunately. It’s an expense that you just need to put up with, and since you’ll have to replace it every four years, it will be a recurring cost.

That being said, the dollars you will save by being able to grow all of your own vegetables – even in the winter – will make it well worth the cost.

Check Your Local Ordinances

Before you settle on the style and location of your greenhouse, make sure you check in to see if there are any rules or restrictions on what you can build in your area.

Your town’s building department may not even allow you to build a greenhouse on your property, although this is rare. Usually, you will only be limited by size.

Keep in mind that greenhouses are considered outbuildings, so you’ll usually need to apply for a building permit. The exception to this is if you are building a portable structure- more on this later – in which case, you do not usually need a permit.

One thing that makes building a greenhouse challenging is if you live somewhere that has a homeowner’s association (HOA). Often, there are strict regulations that limit the building of outbuildings.

Types of Greenhouses

Many people use the word “greenhouse’ interchangeably, but in reality, there are dozens of types of greenhouses you can build.

Each greenhouse is designed for specific types of applications, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that a greenhouse doesn’t just have to be for growing plants.

chicken and sheep inside hoophouse

We raise animals and store hay in our greenhouse, but you could also use one to:

  • House animals during the winter months – you’ll want to move them out in the summer, when the heat becomes dangerous
  • Serve as birthing sheds for animals
  • Dehydrate fruits and vegetables
  • Provide a transition space between harvest and storage
  • Cure and store vegetables for the winter months
  • Protect landscaping features
  • Seed plants earlier in the winter

Once you decide what you want to do with your structure, consider these options:

Greenhouse

A greenhouse is generally a permanent structure that is designed primarily for growing plants.

It can be any size, and may include raised beds or tables for growing plants indirectly (out of the ground). Greenhouses can have glass or plastic walls.

They are heated primarily by the sun, but many people also use heaters to keep temperatures constant.

The word “greenhouse” is often used as a blanket term for any kind of growing barn, but you can also get more specific with the next few types of greenhouses, too.

Hoop House

A hoop house is less permanent than a greenhouse, and may also be referred to as a polytunnel or a high tunnel (these tend to be larger).

Usually, a hoop house consists of a series of metal (sometimes wood, though this is less sturdy) hoops that are covered with greenhouse plastic. This creates a warm tunnel in which food can be grown.

Hoophouses serve a variety of purposes, as they can house animals and can be used year-round. Many hoophouses can be purchased or built with roll-up sides, which will allow you to keep things a bit cooler in the summer.

Although you can grow in raised beds or on tables in a hoophouse, most people just plant directly in the ground.

Depending on the size of your hoop house, it can be very portable. Many people use small hoop houses as temporary chicken pens that they move each and every day by hand or with a tractor.

Some people set the posts of their hoop house in the ground with cement to provide greater strength during heavy winds.

Cold Frame

Cold frames tend to be much smaller than hoop houses, although there are some greenhouse manufacturers who use the name interchangeably.

Generally, these are quite low to the ground, and very simple to make – really, all you need are some supports and greenhouse plastic.

Cold frames are usually designed to protect delicate plants from frost, and extend the growing season into a longer segment of the winter months.

feeding sheep inside hoophouse

Decide on the Size

Once you know what style works best for you, you need to pick a size. For the average homestead, a small portable backyard greenhouse measuring 16×20 or smaller will be fine.

That will allow you to grow quite a few vegetables. However, for us, wanting to house 50+ sheep and 100+ chickens during the winter months in addition to growing vegetables during the summer, we needed something bigger, so we went for a second hand one that is 30×96.

chickens inside a hoop house

Choose the Shape

There are essentially three types of shapes you can choose for your greenhouse: a lean-to, a Quonset, and a rigid frame.

A rigid frame will require you to put down a foundation and a frame, and it can take any form (including an A-frame). A Quonset will consist of a domed ceiling and will have steel supports for PVC tubing.

You’ll get less headspace, but this is generally easier for a novice to build. A lean-to is perfect if you’ve chosen to build your greenhouse up against a building. It’s quite easy to make yourself, too.

This article will walk you through building a large yet movable greenhouse. The plans in this article are based on a Quonset-style frame (which is a semicircle).

Unfortunately, Quonset-style frames aren’t the best at dealing with snow load. There is some risk of them collapsing under heavy snow. You can add snow trusses for extra support if you’d like, too.

The reason for going with this less supportive style is that it is very difficult to DIY a greenhouse in the alternative form – which is known as a Gothic arch. Gothic hoop houses are much better – and include more bracing – to reduce snow load and improve wind resilience.

Building a Quonset-style is much easier because you will need to be able to bend your own hoops (if you purchase your own greenhouse, the hoops often come pre-bent, as ours were).

You can further snow-proof this Quonset-style design by adding wooden bracings down the center.

The 3 Ways to Set Up a Greenhouse

Option #1: buy a greenhouse kit

There are plenty of greenhouse kits that will make the process much easier. They’re a good option for people who don’t have a lot of technical skills or know-how.

In many areas, you can even hire workers to complete the entire installation on your property. Of course, this will cost you some money.

This is the absolute zero DIY route, and is a good choice if you have no carpentry skills to speak of.

Option #2: build it from scratch

The second option is to build a greenhouse completely from scratch. This is the cheapest option, but generally, also the least permanent.

It will involve purchasing either metal bows or PVC pipes, which you will then flex to the curved shape that meets your greenhouse’s specs.

You will also need to buy all of the equipment that I list in the equipment list below separately, as you will be piecing everything together from scratch.

If you go this route, just know it likely won’t be as wind-resistant, so if you live in a windy or very snowy area, you may want to opt for a fabricated unit with metal bracing and supports to help it withstand tough winters (as we did).

Otherwise, building your own greenhouse comes down to just a few simple – albeit time-consuming! – steps.

Option #3: but a second hand one

The third and last option is to do what we did, which was to purchase a pre-built, used greenhouse (ours was a large 30×96 high tunnel), take it apart on the previous owner’s property, and then reassemble it on your own property.

We got a great deal on this from the previous owners. It included everything except the plastic, which was ripped anyway. We were required to take the greenhouse down on-site, and then had to reassemble it on our property.

Between the greenhouse, some replacement hardware we had to buy (along with bits and pieces for building end walls and the new replacement plastic) we probably spent around $5,000 for a greenhouse that originally cost two or three times that amount!

Whether you’ll be buying all of the materials, or if you’ll be taking down a second hand greenhouse, the setup process is more or less the same, as you’re about to see.

Decide on Materials

You also need to decide what your greenhouse will be made out of. A traditional greenhouse is made out of glass, but it’s both heavy and expensive- along with fragile.

Glass does not need to be replaced over time, unlike other building materials that gradually wear out, but again, is more prone to breakage so you might end up having to replace it anyway.

If you choose glass as your covering of choice, you have to have a foundation. Any misalignment can cause damage.

Therefore, most DIY greenhouses are made out of plastic, polyethylene sheeting, fiberglass, acrylic, or polycarbonate. Polyethylene sheeting is affordable and easy to install, but it’s also easy to puncture.

Hard, double-walled plastic is another good choice. It can be curved around your frame, and offers significant energy savings.

It’s also more durable than glass and has a high light-transmission, letting in up to 80% of all outdoor light.

If you’re building a traditional framed greenhouse, fiberglass is a good choice, as is acrylic. Fiberglass is cheaper, but it will yellow and lose much of its transparency with time. Acrylic, though more expensive, stays clear for up to ten years.

As for the frame of your greenhouse, you’ll need to choose from metal or wood. Metal is stronger and more weather-resistant, meaning it will last ten times as long, but it’s expensive. Wood is also easier to work with.

You don’t have to build a floor, but you can, especially if you plan on planting in raised beds or on benches. Good options include flagstone, gravel, wood decking, poured concrete, and metal.

You can also go for bare dirt, but remember that this can be a hassle in the spring, when everything turns to mud.

In this article, I’ll tell you how to build a plastic-covered hoop house with a metal frame, which is the most common kind of greenhouse most people DIY on their properties.

So go ahead and make a trip to the hardware store, and stock up on the following hardware:

Self-tapping TEK screws

When you’re connecting metal frames, you are going to need self-tapping (or self-drilling) TEK screws. This kind of screw is unique. They have sharp tips that let you screw into metal without damaging your bit.

You may want to get Pan Head TEK screws, as these have rounded heads that are less likely to rip your plastic. You’ll need a mixture of these screws in various sizes, including ⅜” drive 1” long screws, and 5/16” drive hex head self tapping TEK screws.

Purlin clamps

Purlin clamps, also known as cross connectors, help you attach pieces of steel bows that cross perpendicularly.

To install, all you do is put the hardware on the two pieces of tube that come together, then tighten the nuts and bolts of the clamp.

In the plans I’ll give you, you might not need these – you’re going to use wooden beams as snow bracing instead of metal ones. However, they may be good to have on hand if you decide to DIY some metal braces instead.

Aluminum channels

These can be purchased from most greenhouse suppliers.

Plastic attachment

Don’t overlook how you’re going to attach the plastic to the channels mentioned above!

Single-aluminum channels will be attached over your end bows, and you’ll use what’s called “wiggle wire” to serve as the plastic attachment.

Plastic

Every hoop house or greenhouse needs plastic. Most people use six-mil UVA clear greenhouse plastic. This is considered industry-standard, and it will need to be replaced every four years.

It is shipped to you with a special fold so it will be easier to unroll. You can also opt for anti-drip IRAD plastic or nine mil woven greenhouse plastic.

Metal bows, purlins and snow trusses (purlins and snow trusses are optional)

You can also use wood, but again, I’m going to recommend metal as it is more durable.

You can bend the bows for a metal frame relatively easily. Ours came pre-bent, but if you choose those that are not pre-bent, know that it won’t be a major undertaking to do so.

The length and number of these will vary depending on the size of the greenhouse you build.

Metal bows, purlins and snow trusses
In this picture above, you’ll see the metal rods we used, along with the purlins and snow trusses. This is everything attached.

In the plans I’ll give you, the metal bows or “ribs” were repurposed from a 10′ chain link fence top-rail. You can also substitute the metal bows for PVC pipes, but these aren’t as strong.

The ideal spacing for metal bows will be one every four feet. You can space them closer together if you’d like, too. If you’re spacing any further than this, you will want to add purlins for extra support.

Again, if you get a lot of snow, purlins can add additional support between bows, as can snow trusses.

Endwalls and base

You can either use plastic to form the endwalls (great if you only intend on growing plants in your greenhouse), or you can build your own endwalls out of wood.

The best option will be pressure-treated lumber in dimensional lumber sizes. The base should be made out of pressure-treated lumber, too.

Doors

How will you get inside your greenhouse? Again, you don’t necessarily have to have doors on both sides, but it can make things more convenient.

Inflation fan

If you install a second layer of plastic (which can be more resilient when it comes to rips and damages) you will want to get an inflation fan.

This will shoot air between the layers of plastic, and will increase the insulation of your covering and help insulate the building better.

Roll up side equipment

If you decide to put in roll-up sides, you’ll need a gearbox operator, universal joint handles or simple handles, wiggle wire, snap clamps, anti-billow rope hardware, and of course, the sides themselves.

You’ll also need a litany of basic tools and supplies like wood screws, a drill (or impact driver), a chop saw, etc.

Pick a Location

Next, consider the best location for your greenhouse. You’ll need to measure out your ideal space, and then find the location that will allow you to take advantage of that space, yet pose minimal risk when it comes to falling trees, branches, and other hazards.

Your greenhouse should be facing south or southeast. This will help it capture the early morning sun. However, if you need to, your greenhouse can face east, too.

Either way, make sure your greenhouse gets at least six hours of sunlight each day. All structures should be to the north of a greenhouse.

You can also choose a greenhouse design that takes a lean-to shape so that it can be affixed to the south wall of a building. This can save space, and reduce your overall footprint, too.

You also want to pay attention to winter versus summer sun. If you’ve lived on your property for a while, you probably have a decent idea of the differences between the two.

If the area is open to the east and sunny, it will usually get more sun from November through February.

Winter sun is important to take into account because it has a lower angle, so trees and other tall structures can provide more interference.

You will also want to choose a location that has good access to water and electricity in case you plan on running these amenities to your greenhouse.

Steps to Setting Up a Large Greenhouse

Step 1: Do Your Dirt Work

Get the ground as level as possible before building. Try to choose a location that is sheltered from the wind, and not in the direct path of any trees or debris.

You’ll want to avoid overhanging limbs especially, as these can be devastating to your expensive greenhouse plastic in a windstorm!

If you plan on building a more permanent greenhouse, you’ll also want to do some extra prep work ahead of time because you’ll need to pound the metal ribs into the ground. This means removing any extra stones that might be in the ground.

Step 2: Lay out Your Frame and Base

Lay out your baseboards to form the outline of where you want your greenhouse to go. You should also lay out your metal hoops (if you have them already), and make sure they are relatively even and will stand flat on a level surface.

Another option is to use strings to measure out where you want your support set. Do this by pounding stakes into the ground and making a string line between them to measure.

If you plan to build a Quonset or lean-to structure, you may want to reinforce the frame with rebar and PVC. This should be done at this time by pounding rebar into the ground every four feet or so.

While a foundation is not necessary if you are building most types of hoop houses or greenhouses, you may want to put out gravel to provide extra drainage.

Step 3: Attach the Metal Ribs and Bracing

Lots of people (us included) actually drove our metal posts several feet into the ground to provide more permanence and stability against the wind.

Since we were housing large animals during the winter, this was essential. Again, probably not necessary for a portable hoop house.

You will need at least four metal ribs for this project, but I’d recommend more if you want additional support. As I mentioned, you can cut the ribs from two sections of 10’ chain link fence top rail. You can also buy pre-bent ribs.

Instead, you’ll attach your ribs to your wooden frame and endwalls (if you choose to build these first – if you want to build them later in the game, I’ll include instructions for this later on) with the self-tapping screws mentioned above.

You may have to predrill holes into the pipes ahead of time if you’re meeting a lot of resistance as you work.

Before you can attach your hoops, you will need to bend them. You can either purchase a hoop bender (at around $50) or make one yourself. You really just need something in the shape of a semicircle to bend the hoop around.

For example, you can use a piece of 2×6 with a six-foot length of string. Attach one end of the string to the end of a table and then pull it tight to scribe a radius curve on the wood.

Cut the curve with a jigsaw, lag bolt it to a stump, and attach an opposing 2×4 to the end. Bend away!

Note that your hoop will bend back a bit after being pressed around the curve, so this may take you some time.

We purchased hoops that were prebent (since they came with the greenhouse we bought) so we were able to skip this step. In my opinion, that was money well-spent. It’s not necessarily difficult to bend your own hoops, but it is time-consuming.

Once you have your hoops where you want them to be, attach them to the wooden frame with yourself-tapping screws. Level everything with temporary bracing and bolt the frame together.

If you are adding extra metal supports, like purlins and snow trusses, you can insert these now. If you aren’t, add some extra support by installing a central wooden beam at the top of the structure that runs the entire length of the hoophouse.

Once your bows are where you want them to be, you need to decide whether the structure will be permanent or impermanent (ideally, you’ll have figured this out ahead of time – but now is the time to make a move).

ground post in ground

In this picture, you’ll see where we had to brace our ground posts in the ground. They are pounded several feet into the earth and then shored up with additional sand and organic matter to keep them in place.

We also had to build sideboards around the ground posts, and up to the sidewalls.

The sidewalls (not to be confused with the endwalls) are only necessary if you are building your hoophouse on an inclined or sloped area.

Our hoophouse slopes gradually downhill so it’s not 100% level. We had to add this terrace-like sidewall system to add additional support so the structure was fully enclosed to keep our animals warm.

Again, this is not necessary in most cases. If you decide to build your hoophouse on a slope, like we did (which is not recommended if you are growing plants, due to the erosion issue, but is okay for housing animals) you will need to add a few boards to make up the difference between the ground and the bottom of the roll-up side.

Your ground posts don’t have to be pounded into the ground at all if you don’t want them to be. In fact, if you decide to make PVC bows instead of metal ones, this likely wouldn’t be practical or feasible.

It also would not be a smart choice if you planned on a totally portable hoophouse that could be moved to sit atop raised beds or similar structures.

Only pound your posts into the ground if you plan on making your hoophouse a permanent, mostly snowproof structure.

You can add concrete to further secure them, too, although we skipped this step.

Otherwise, leave them be.

Step 4: Attach your channels (optional – for canvas roll-up sides only)

Next, you’ll need to attach your channels to the ribs. This will be used to secure the plastic and the roll-up sides. This is usually done by running horizontal lumber so that it adjoins all of the ribs.

Cut your lumber so that it runs the span between two posts and so that no board ends up halfway between two posts – you won’t have anything to secure it to.

You can purchase the metal channels at any greenhouse supply store. You’ll attach the channels to the lumber using your screws.

If you don’t intend to use roll-up sides, you can skip the process of making and attaching metal channels. In that case, the plastic will be attached directly to the ribs.

Step 5: Order your plastic

If you haven’t yet already, order your plastic. It can take a few weeks to arrive. While you’re at it, recruit some extra help. It’s going to take a few sets of hands to put plastic on your greenhouse.

While you can schedule a date ahead of time to have a “plastic party,” keep in mind that this could change. The best time to put on the plastic will be a clear, windless day – even the slightest breeze can turn the entire roll of plastic into a parachute!

When you order your plastic, match it to the dimensions of your greenhouse, but consider getting a few extra feet on both sides (width and length). This will give you some extra room in case of missed measurements or accidents.

Step 6: Attach the plastic

roll up sides attached with wiggle wire
Roll up sides attached with wiggle wire to aluminum channel.

In this picture, you’ll see where both the plastic and roll-up sides are attached to the channel. If you choose not to install roll-up sides, you’ll simply install plastic with the wiggle wire instead of the canvas roll-ups.

You can also choose to skip this step altogether, and simply attach your plastic to the metal ribs.

When you put your plastic on, you’ll attach it to the channel by pressing it to the channel with the wiggle wire. Pop the wiggle wire into place. You may want to wear gloves as you do this, as the wire can wear out your thumbs.

attaching the plastic halfway done

Be careful not to poke a hole in the plastic as you’re attaching it. It may help to have someone playing watch for you!

Here’s a video that shows you how to install plastic on a greenhouse.

Step 7: Build your endwalls and doors

If you choose to build end walls and doors (versus using plastic) you can do this before attaching the plastic or after. The benefit of doing it after is that you’ll have a roof to work under if it rains.

However, if you do it beforehand, it will serve as a helpful frame that you can build the rest of the hoophouse around while you are working.

To build your endwalls, you will need 8’ 2×4’s with a 12’ long baseboard. You can use any door you want and build your door frame to fit it, or you can custom build your end wall with a door frame and then build in a greenhouse door out of extra wood.

Connect your endwalls to the base with 2×4’s.

I’ll also add that another downside to building your endwalls after assembling is that it gets hot in there once that plastic is on! So you might want to consider the time of the year before you make that decision.

Step 8: Adding the Doors

I mentioned in the how-to section above that doors are important in your greenhouse. These can be simply made out of wood or they can be well-insulated to prevent heat from escaping.

The amount of heat that will escape from around a door may seem minimal, but it’s actually quite substantial.

greenhouse main entrance
The main entrance, along with a couple of windows, and some vents.

Step 9: Heating, Cooling and Ventilation

Most DIY greenhouses aren’t equipped with cooling and ventilation systems because most people only use them throughout certain times of the year.

However, you can easily add a fan to help keep air moving in your greenhouse. You can use a commercial greenhouse fan or a simple box fan to add circulation.

Whatever you do, just make sure the fan is rated to withstand dust and debris so you don’t have to worry about a fire hazard.

To figure out how much ventilation you need, calculate the length and width of your greenhouse and multiply it by five. This will give you a rough estimation of how many CFMs (cubic feet per minute) your fan will need to be able to cover.

The higher the CFM, the more air a fan will move. Obviously, the larger your greenhouse is, the higher-powered a fan you will need.

If that’s too complicated, keep in mind that you can buy a fan or ventilation system directly from a greenhouse manufacturer. They’ll tell you what size fan you’ll need based on the size of your greenhouse.

When you install fans, place them diagonally in the corners so that they create good airflow. Keep in mind that you’ll run these during the winter, too, so that the heat can be adequately distributed about the building.

Vents may also need to be opened in the winter, although they are more essential in the summer. Here’s a quick video that will show you how to put fans in place:

Another way to add ventilation is to equip your greenhouse with roll-up sides. This is something that can be done regardless of whether you choose to build your own greenhouse or purchase a pre-built one.

Here’s a video showing how these roll-up sides work:

You can also add things like shutters and louvers to help increase the airflow in your greenhouse. These are usually installed toward the roof of the building to help draw cool air in, and push warm air out.

Heating isn’t necessary for many greenhouses, even if you live in extremely cold climates. Again, your decision to install heating will depend primarily on what you plan to do with it.

If you want to grow all kinds of vegetables during the coldest days of winter, you may ultimately need some kind of supplemental heat.

You can add oil, propane, or natural gas heat to your greenhouse. Other options include hot water heaters and convection tubing.

Something as simple as an electric heater should do the trick. If you use a wood or oil-based heater, make sure it’s vented to the outside of the building to prevent carbon dioxide poisoning.

If you plan on housing any kind of animals in your building, I don’t recommend heaters as they can pose a serious fire hazard if tipped over.

Many of these systems can be equipped with advanced environmental controls so that you don’t have to manually do everything yourself.

There are computer modules as well as simple thermostat systems, all of which can be controlled digitally or set to automatic presets.

These aren’t usually systems that the novice grower will include in a backyard greenhouse, but if you want to grow crops for profit, you may want to consider them to make your life a little easier.

Another way to keep things cool? Use shade cloth. This will help block out solar heat gain.

If you plan on running mechanical heating, cooling, or ventilation systems, make sure you look into your electrical capabilities before you start building.

If you’re operating a large greenhouse, you might need 120-240V in order to keep things running. You may also need supplemental lighting, so you’ll want to figure out a way to run power for those.

Step 10: Thermometers

Even If you don’t plan on installing any temperature control devices, make sure you have a system in place that will allow you to monitor temperatures inside your greenhouse.

Ideally, your greenhouse will need to stay a minimum of 45 to 60 degrees F (7 to 15 C) in the winter – but warmer in the summer.

Get a working thermometer so you can pay close attention to the conditions inside your building.

Step 11: Irrigation

Don’t fall victim to the foolish assumption that you can simply walk out to your greenhouse every morning with a watering can and take care of your plants that way!

When you are growing vegetables or other types of crops in a greenhouse, you’re going to have a lot of plants that grow extremely quickly. Make sure you have the systems in place to tend to those plants.

Installing a basic irrigation system will help your plants stay watered at all times. There are multiple systems available depending on the size and layout of your greenhouse.

Greenhouse plants can be irrigated in one of these way,s or a combination of them:

  • Applying water via drip tapes or tubes
  • Watering by hand with a hose
  • Using overhead sprinklers and booms
  • Watering through the bottom of the container with subirrigation

Generally speaking, a drip irrigation system will be the most efficient, as it will give you greater control over the amount of water you apply.

The foliage will not become soaked so your plants will be less likely to succumb to disease. This is particularly important if you don’t have great ventilation in your greenhouse.

If you are growing in a bed, pot, or bag, drip irrigation will work great. You can install tubing on the ground or weave it through bags or into containers.

You can also use a sub-irrigation system, which is eco-friendly, and also conserves water. These can be expensive but can take the form of a trough system, ebb and flood benches, capillary mat systems, or flood floors.

Here’s a quick, cheap way to irrigate your greenhouse:

Watering by hand with a hose will save you the most money and time upfront, but it won’t do you any favors later on.

It’s a good temporary solution while you figure out what kind of sub-irrigation or drip irrigation system you can install.

Overhead sprinklers can work, too, but I’d recommend steering clear of these if you can afford to set up a drip irrigation system.

The amount of time and effort involved in installing both drip and overhead irrigation systems are about the same, but overhead watering can lead to fungal diseases as the plants get too wet. They can also waste a fair amount of water.

Step 12: Benches

If you plan on growing your crops directly in the ground, you don’t need benches or raised beds. However, if your greenhouse has a floor or if you don’t want to plant in-ground due to poor soil or some other concern, you’ll need a bench.

Most greenhouses can be equipped with store-bought or handmade benches.

You can easily make a greenhouse bench or bed out of wood, but keep in mind that the high heat and humidity in your building will cause them to warp and rot more quickly.

You may be better off with a more expensive material, like galvanized steel, that will last longer down the road.

Other DIY Greenhouse Ideas to Try

If you don’t like the plans I laid out above, don’t worry! The Internet is filled with potential greenhouse ideas for you to try. Here are a few to get you started.

Idea #1: Classic Greenhouse

This greenhouse is made out of glass and wood and gives you about 10×16 feet of growing space. It’s set up in a traditional A-frame structure, and will likely require you to build shelving or raised beds inside.

It’s a permanent structure that would work well if your only goal for your greenhouse is to grow plants.

Idea #2:Floating Row Cover Greenhouse

If you love the concept of floating row covers but want something a little larger for your garden, this option is a good idea.

You’ll be able to pull back the plastic and hoops easily once the weather heats up and can simply use it to extend the life of the plants in your raised beds.

Idea #3:Budget Hoop House

This tiny greenhouse is a great option if you want a quick little structure to grow a few plants or raise your chickens. It costs less than $50 to build, and can be put together in a matter of a weekend.

Idea #4:Dome-Shaped Greenhouse

Personally, I wouldn’t want a dome-shaped greenhouse because it would be difficult to make the most of the growing space. After all, seed trays, benches, and other equipment aren’t dome-shaped – they’re rectangular.

However, proponents of this system say it actually offers the most possible growing space because you don’t waste space in the corners.

It is a more challenging option to build, but it’s said to be better at withstanding high winds.

Idea #5: Window Greenhouse

You can make a greenhouse out of repurposed items, too. You can use secondhand storm windows to make a simple (yet very small) 1×1 or 10×6 greenhouse by following the simple plans.

Idea #6:The Lazy Man’s Basement Greenhouse

Okay, maybe you aren’t necessarily lazy for building this kind of greenhouse… you might actually be just really, really smart! Otherwise, I love the idea for this greenhouse.

It’s pretty basic – it’s just like any other greenhouse except that it’s built so that it’s attached to the door of your walk-out basement.

There are some plans you can follow here. I’d imagine you’d want to be careful to make sure there is adequate ventilation, and that the drip edge of your house doesn’t come directly into your greenhouse, but otherwise, it’s a smart idea!

Here’s a few more:

Good luck, and happy planning!

DIY greenhouse setup Pinterest image


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