How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

Starting with the basic concepts of the problem, let’s see what exactly is a greenhouse. The Wikipedia definition indicates that a greenhouse (also called greenhouse in some areas) is a building covered with a transparent layer of plastic sheet glass that allows the sun to freely enter and not allow heat to escape. These buildings can vary in size, from small to industrial sizes, and are used to grow several species of plants that can not grow in the outdoor climate or if you want them to develop faster.

Now that we have clarified the basic aspects of greenhouses, you should also know that they are not difficult to build. With only the right elements and some skills, you can build one in your backyard and this is the main purpose of this article.

We will guide you step by step and help you build your own greenhouse. This skill is extremely useful in case of a global disaster because it will help you to grow plants and make your own garden.

The food you have stored will not last forever and it is highly recommended to have the necessary skills to become a farmer for a while. In addition, you must make sure to add some seeds in your survival pantry, so that you have to cultivate in your garden.

The first thing you should know, before considering the materials and making the plans, is the fact that there are two types of greenhouses: glass and plastic. As the name implies, the glass structures are covered with a special type of glass called horticultural glass. This type of glass is not as clear and perfect as the glass used to make the windows, but it is perfect for growing plants. The plastic structure is usually covered with polyethylene or polycarbonate sheets.

How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

Of course, if you do not have a limited budget and you want a completely high-tech greenhouse, you can buy a special type of glass that is integrated with all kinds of sensors, heating and cooling installations and monitoring facilities that can be automatically controlled by a computer. These are used in professional greenhouses and, in case of a SHTF situation, they will not help you. The old classical forms will be useful then!

So, now that we know what a greenhouse is and how they are classified, let’s start the discussion on how to actually build one in your backyard with traditional methods and materials.

Choose the location

The main request that has any type of greenhouse is lots of sunlight so make sure that the structure is located in the south zone and that there is nothing blocking the sunlight. The building can be an inclined structure or completely independent. The lean-to structure is a bit easier to build and if you choose this type, Make sure to place it on the south wall. The building is going to support.

If you do not have a sunny location all day (highly recommended), be sure to choose one that has Morning light. This will help the plants grow faster and healthier. Pay close attention to the bushes or trees that can project your shadow and block the morning light. Nothing should interfere with sunlight until late in the afternoon.

Since you can grow plants in the greenhouse throughout the year, you should be careful What will sunlight be like in summer and winter?. For example, winter sunlight reaches the Earth at a lower angle, so any tree or bush that does not cause problems during the summer can be a big problem during winter.

Also, do not place the greenhouse near evergreen plants, as they do not shed their leaves and the shade they project will be thick throughout the year. If this is not a problem during the summer, in the winter the plants will need all the sunlight they can get.

How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

The following two things you should look for when choosing the location are: Easy access to electricity and flatness and elevation of the area. The greenhouse is going to be located in. Access to electricity is very important since you will have to supply some heating and ventilation devices to keep the interior temperature at an optimum level. If you decide to build an independent structure, you may need to call an electrician to make the connection to the main network.

With respect to the area in which the structure will be located, you need a flat area that is slightly elevated from the rest of the terrain. This ensures a Good drainage and water flow. during the rainy seasons. Excess water must be drained away from your plants, otherwise they will draw and die.

It is also recommended build cisterns around the greenhouse To collect the rainwater that drains from the eaves. This will help you save money with water and your greenhouse will be a bit greener.

Choosing the structure

Once you have chosen the location and are sure that sunlight can reach it throughout the year, it is time to start thinking about the real structure. Well, now is the time to make a brief classification of the different types of greenhouses so you know what to choose and why.

How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

There are mainly 3 types of greenhouses and you can choose one according to your budget, the space you have available and the climate in which you live. Therefore, there are:

  • Slanted structures that generally rest on the south wall of your house or in a barn. These are usually small and cover the need for a small home, but if you do not need more, this type is perfect.
  • Independent structures: can be as large as your land allows and require a separate electrical panel and water drainage systems. They will also need a little more work during the construction phase, but they are worth it.
  • A walipini structure (the “walipini” is an Aymara indigenous word and means place of warmth): this is actually one of the most affordable structures of this type, but it is used mainly in cold climates. A walipini is actually an underground greenhouse, in which the natural and warm properties of the earth are used as side walls and sunlight only reaches through the roof. We will discuss this structure later in the article.

Now, according to your needs, the budget and the area of ​​the world in which you live, you have probably made a decision about the type that will work for you. If so, the next thing you will need are plans or plans. We recommend going online and downloading those that suit your needs. Here are two good examples of greenhouse plans:

  • Plans for greenhouses: how to build a simple and portable PVC hoop house
  • How to build your own greenhouse

but you can find more in a simple search, so do not limit yourself to these.

Building an independent structure / lean-to

Because these two structures require approximately the same amount of effort and materials, we will discuss them together. The first thing is to decide if you want to do this from scratch and learn the basics of building a sturdy structure, or simply want to buy a kit and follow the instructions to put it together.

If you are a type of kit, We have some recommendations that you should consider before buying. For example, the Mythos Hobby Greenhouse from the Palram Nature series is a good and reliable kit that comes with polycarbonate panels for use on the ceiling and walls, a corrosion-resistant aluminum frame, an adjustable vent to install on the roof, a lockable door handle, rain gutters and a galvanized steel base. With all this, you will receive a 5 year warranty and you can build a 49 square foot greenhouse for your plants.

How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

Another fantastic example of a kit is the Portable Greenhouse without door OGrow Deluxe. Actually, this is the mini version of a regular greenhouse where you can move to let the plants take some sun, even if the location is not so good. It does not take up much space in your yard and does not require much effort to maintain it, so if you just want to grow some flowers or vegetables, this is a fantastic option. This kit offers the possibility of growing plants on the shelves, creating a type of vertical garden.

The kit comes with strong metal bars to support the entire structure, transparent covers made of resistant material, the shelves are reinforced to maintain heavy floors and a steel frame resistant to corrosion.

How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

These kits offer you the materials and plans necessary to build the greenhouse, but they also cost around $ 600. Of course, being a DIY project, you may realize that you need some additional materials, which means that costs do not always they will respect the graphics.

If you want to do all this for yourself., Well, congratulations, you finally understood what it means to be prepared for a global disaster! According to the space you need for your plants, your structure may vary in size and this implies costs with the materials and the time to build it. Be sure to calculate your budget and always leave something extra, in case something does not fit the initial plan, with this type of project the unexpected is no longer such an amazing element.

The most popular size for these structures is 8 by 6 feet, but this does not have to be their standard too. Just make sure you plan enough space for your plants and that you have all the necessary materials.

How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

The next thing to choose is the type of structure you will use. There are several materials you can use, but the most popular are wood, PVC pipes or steel bars. The type of materials you will use for the frame and the shape of the structure are decisive for your budget, resistance in time and usable space.

For example, if you use PVC pipes, you will get a much cheaper greenhouse, but the resistance will not be as good. On the other hand, if you use wood or steel bars, the greenhouse will be there for many years and you can recover your initial investment in a few years.

Important advice: If you are tall and plan to work in your greenhouse for long periods of time, create a rectangular shape. The shape of the dome does not allow much room for the head and you will have to be tilted all the time you are inside, this will feel very bad when you have to spend a few hours in the greenhouse.

If you decided to go with the rigid frame (wood or steel), you will also need a base or some form of making sure that the structure does not collapse in the wind. If the local building regulations are too strict with respect to the foundations, you can dig a deep hole for each post and repair it by pouring concrete into the hole. This will create a robust structure and no one will be able to accuse you of building a base.

You will feel the main difference between a sloping building and an independent building when you build the structure. As we saw earlier, an independent structure requires a separate base when a person leans to get his strength from the wall against which he leans.

How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

Important advice: If you decide to go with wood, make sure to treat it and paint it first. Otherwise, it will decompose rapidly and its structure will not last more than a few years.

Building the structure can be a tedious job, so be sure to bring some friends to help you. Here you can see how to build a pvc greenhouse with all kinds of recyclable materials.

So the costs will not be that high. And the other video is about the construction of a greenhouse using a wooden structure.

As you can see, the construction times are different and the tools used are also more complex for the wooden structure. This is why you need to do your research before actually starting to build one of these.

Cover the greenhouse

As soon as the structure is finished, you should start thinking about the type of coverage you want. To have sunlight throughout the day, all year round, you should consider a transparent material that allows the sun to enter. The most popular materials to cover this type of structure are the sheets of glass, polycarbonate or plastic.

Advantage Disadvantages
Glass Filter harmful UV light. You can replace it with fiberglass. You can use old windows. It will give your greenhouse a traditional and pleasant appearance. It offers more clarity and clarity. It breaks easily and can cause accidents. It is heavy and can load the structure. It is expensive. Requires a base. It can lead to the destruction of some plants because it lets in a lot of light.

Poor thermal efficiency

Polycarbonate It is lightweight and does not load the structure. It is flexible and can be used in a curved structure. It has a better thermal efficiency, maintaining the warmth. It’s cheaper to replace. It is also easier to install.

You can buy it in pre-cut panels that will fit your structure

Resistant and durable with good longevity.

It is not as durable as glass. It is prone to scratches. It should be treated with UV on both sides. If it is not properly insulated, it can attract moisture and molds. You must choose the thickness according to the climatic conditions.
Plastic movie It is definitely the cheapest solution. It produces a diffuse light that does not burn the plants. It resists well to light collisions. It will tear and tear easily. It does not have a long life and should be replaced every few years. It does not withstand adverse weather conditions. It has a poor thermal efficiency and, if you want to keep some heat, you must add more layers. It becomes milky white. after a few years of use

As you can see, there are pros and cons for every choice you make. It all depends on how well you want your greenhouse to resist over time and how much you are prepared to invest in it over the next few years. A larger investment now can save you the money, time and effort you need to add to the structure in the future.

Of course, if you are a little flexible and do not really want clean and traditional looking greenhouses in magazines, you can find easy solutions to reduce costs. For example, you can use old windows instead of specially designed glasses. The best way to do it is to go around your neighborhood and see if there are demolished buildings. When you find one, ask the owner if he could have his old windows (if there is any whole left). In this way, you will save money and help the neighborhood to recycle some very delicate materials.

Here you can see how a Greenhouse made with old windows. It seems that you can follow the whole series to get more tips and tricks on how to do it from the beginning.

Even so, you will not always be able to get windows of the same size and this is fine. You just have to adjust the frame so that they fit perfectly.

How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

Being wooden frame windows, it is better if you treat and paint them before installing them in the frame. This will ensure that they will not be reduced (more) and that they will endure for a long period of time.

If you live in a colder climate or if you have winters, the best options will be glass and polycarbonate. They are resistant to heavy loads (snow can be quite heavy) and will not tear as easily as plastic film does.

Important advice: To make sure that your structure does not have too much load, you can make a commitment and use two types of coating materials. Therefore, you can use glass for the walls and the door, and use polycarbonate or plastic film for the roof.

Regardless of what you decide to use for coverage, make sure the building is completely isolated. Any hole or crack will let out heat and rain and dust, and the environment of your greenhouse will not work properly.

Soil, drainage and ventilation.

Now that the most difficult part is over, it must cover the inner environment. The first thing you should consider when working is ventilation.


Since this is a closed environment, you will need to be able to draw hot air and bring in new air during the summer. In addition, it will have to be able to heat the air during the winter, when the greenhouse does not have enough light.

How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

Its interior temperature should be between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit so that the plants do not burn or freeze. During a hot, sunny day, the interior of your greenhouse can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit very quickly, so it is extremely important to maintain constant temperature control.

You can do this by installing some thermometers as with the temperature humidity meter. To ensure that your building is well ventilated, you must install a fan (or more if the greenhouse is large) on one of the side walls. In addition, you must create air vents in the ceiling by opening (manually or automatically) some of the panels. This will create an air flow that will return the temperature to normal.

During the winter, you may need to install a heater that runs on electricity or gas to keep the temperature high.

Soil and drainage.

The soil is where your plants are going to grow and you can make some excellent decisions that will cut your work in half for the future.

How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

One of these excellent options is a barrier against weeds that prevents the grass from invading its precious plants.

The floor must have excellent drainage, so that by wetting the plants, the water does not transform your greenhouse into a small pool. The best option for this is the gravel, since it has an incredible drainage and keeps the heat, but you can also use concrete, bricks, sand or even dirt. Just make sure it is comfortable for all the activities you are going to do there.

Building a walipini structure

The walipini is an underground greenhouse that uses the system of heating and natural ventilation of the earth to preserve the plants. These structures are amazing for growing plants in colder climates and are more affordable and easier to maintain than the traditional greenhouse.

The basic idea behind a walipini is a rectangular hole in the ground (approximately 6 to 8 feet deep) covered with some kind of transparent material that allows the entry of the sun’s rays. To obtain coverage, you can use the same materials that are used for a normal greenhouse. But the most popular is the plastic film. You will have to place the roof at an angle so that the sun can cover the entire area, so the walipini walls will be uneven.

How to Build A Greenhouse: Grow Your Own Vegetables at Home

To eliminate any confusion, the side, rear and front walls are usually made of earth (it is a hole, so there is no need for other material for the walls) reinforced with stones or other construction materials.

The back wall is usually the highest and the front wall is lower, but this is no longer a general rule. Actually, you can build a normal triangular shape, using a wooden or PVC structure that is located at the top of the hole. The roof is actually the main element of insulation and light, so you should make sure it is done correctly.

This type of structure will save you tons of money in energy since the walipini does not need any additional heat (regardless of the season). The hole will protect the plants inside any temperature change. Even so, you will need a ventilation and drainage system to protect the plants from water infiltration and heat from the heat. Even during winter, the temperature inside can increase rapidly, so you will need to be able to create a constant air flow using fans and air vents.

In conclusion

As you can see, a greenhouse can be a difficult and expensive job, but with the right information and the right help, you will be able to build it and enjoy it for many years. The greenhouse is a fantastic addition to your garden and all those who possess a state claim that their garden has become more productive due to the fact that they were able to start the plants early.

If you have a garden and extra land, you must start this fantastic DIY project! It will teach you many new skills and it can be a fantastic project for the whole family.


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