10 Tips for Building a Small Greenhouse

attractive-wood-and-glass-greenhouse-kitA Small greenhouse in your garden has several benefits. Not only can it be considered an educational and enjoyable experience, but there could be economical benefits as well.

You should always start by selecting a well drained and fairly level lot. If your greenhouse is used only in the summer time (ex. propagation of plants), then you should consider a fairly shaded spot to avoid excess build-up of heat. In such a case you should build your greenhouse on the North side where possible. Ideally a nearby large deciduous tree would be perfect. You can always make use of cloth for shade or white plastic if no trees are available.

New transplants that will be matured inside the greenhouse will require a different setup. With this type of greenhouse you want as much sun as possible. This means choosing the East and South sides of your house for optimum exposure. Higher areas would be preferable. Always keep airflow, electricity, drainage and a sufficient water supply in mind.

Sunshine-Greenhouse-KitWhen staring a greenhouse project you should keep your ambition in check. Have you asked yourself if you will have enough time to properly manage your greenhouse? By having the right automated systems in place, you can greatly reduce the workload required to operate a greenhouse.

In order to reduce the workload required, you will have to automate the following elements; watering (misting), ventilation, humidity, heating and lighting. Your first plants should ideally be easy growing and therefore easy to care for. When planning your greenhouse you should seriously consider incorporating automation form the word go.

A prefabricated greenhouse is always an option, but this will generally be more expensive than building your own. Even a simple wooden frame can be sufficient, but be sure to use plumbers and electricians that are certified for the automation process.

DIY kits are another option. Styles differ and so will be the materials required and the cost involved. Generally speaking, this should be the most cost-effective option. Being good with your hands can save you a lot of money. A great option for a small greenhouse would be the lean-to type. These type of structures are normally supported by other structures such as a garage or the side of your house. Keep in mind space for sitting.  

Details such as leakage, humidity and ventilation are already taken care of when purchasing a kit. The will usually be included in the plans. If you decide to build your greenhouse from scratch, then all these factors should be accounted for.

Constructing Your Own Greenhouse: 10 Tips

  1. Do not over complicate the design and use readily available materials. Using recycled materials such as re-purposed doors, re-milled wood and window sashes could provide an attractive design.
  2. Be aware of your unique location and the climate that goes with that. Be adaptive and the solutions will come easy.
  3. Standard materials should be part of your plan. The benefit is that they usually come in multiples of four and are readily available.
  4. Your gardening habits should also be considered for they can make or break your greenhouse project. A greenhouse project is very different from normal gardening.
  5. Make sure to regulate the heat and lights using timers.
  6. Be sure to have a back up plan in case of extreme weather conditions and possible power failures. In other words, be prepared for the worst.
  7. Should your greenhouse be constructed of wood then make sure it is pressure treated. Cypress, redwood, cedar and other hardwoods would be ideal. Regular wood can also be used, as long as it has been treated for building and construction.
  8. greenhouse-kit-plasticPaned glass should be your first choice when it comes to transparency. You can also make use of fiberglass, acrylic, plastic film or poly-carbonate plastic. The pro’s and con’s are different for each type of material, so make sure to do your homework.
  9. It is recommended to make use of permanent foundations for the greenhouse structural support. Although flooring is not necessary you can always install it if you choose to do so. Just add gravel a few inches deep to ensure adequate drainage.
  10. When growing tall plants make sure that there is ample height provided. Never use more than 2/3ds of the greenhouses’ area as to leave space for benches and work areas.

Happy Growing!

Related Reading

Planning and Building a Greenhouse

Greenhouse Wikipedia