Build a mini greenhouse in the backyard

Building a greenhouse is like building a house. You should have a well-designed plan and several things need to be taken into consideration. In order to build a mini greenhouse in the backyard, you should consider the types of greenhouses available, your growing area, architectural style, location and budget. Most importantly, the greenhouse that you will be building should, of course, serve its purpose of maintaining a proper environment for your plants to grow.

As mentioned, there are several things that need to be considered when putting up a greenhouse. To give you some tips, here are the things to be included in the planning stage.

Building Your Own Hobby Greenhouse

Location, Location, Location

Greenhouse Gardener's Companion, Revised: Growing Food & Flowers in Your Greenhouse or SunspaceGreenhouse Gardener’s Companion, Revised: Growing Food & Flowers in Your Greenhouse or SunspaceFirst thing to note in building a greenhouse is its location. The best location for a greenhouse is an area where it will get maximum sunlight.

Thus, the best location is on an east facing side where it gets maximum morning sunlight especially from November to February. North of buildings or any major structure is the last location to be considered as it less light. Also, it is best to make sure that the trees near the chosen location will still allow enough sunlight to reach the greenhouse.

Other things to be considered when choosing location are good drainage, location of water, electricity and heat. The location should also be convenient for you! If you put your greenhouse at the farthest end of your yard, how motivated or able will you be to keep an eye on it.

I have an example. We built our 10’ x 12’ kit greenhouse (Harbor Freight baby!) right outside our back door. I was sitting in my office one day typing away when I heard a crashing noise. I looked out the window and realized my greenhouse shelves had toppled over and my plants were laying all over the place! If my greenhouse had not been so close, I never would have heard the noise and been able to rescue my plants so quickly.

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Small Homemade Greenhouse Ideas

For options, check out Amazon’s list of Best Selling Greenhouses here.

In general, a mini greenhouse can be any of these two types – a free-standing structure or one that is attached to your house or garage (The mini greenhouses though are mainly free standing. I am just giving you options.).

There are different kinds of attached greenhouses. One example of an attached greenhouse is the lean-to. This is a half greenhouse attached directly to one side of a house or building with doorway, if possible. This type is close to sources of heat, water and electricity and is the least expensive. However, this kind of structure also has some limitations on space, ventilation, and sunlight. Also, since it is attached to your house you may have to get building permits.

Another attached greenhouse is the window-mounted. This type can be attached on the east or south side of the house or building. This is a glass enclosure that extends a foot or so, which gives enough space for growing a few plants at low cost. I would also call this a Garden Window.

Freestanding greenhouses are separate structures that are not limited to a small space. Since it is set apart from an existing structure or building, consider if you want it to have its own water and electricity sources as well as heating system.

When choosing the preferred structure, make sure that you factor in enough space for benches, storage, and possible future expansion. The University of Georgia Extension suggests trying to go as wide as possible on your greenhouse since it is easier to add length than width after it is already built.

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What Kind of Structural Materials Should You Consider

Greenhouse Clear Plastic Film Polyethylene Covering Gt4 Year 6 Mil 12ft. X 25ft. By Grower’s SolutionGreenhouse Clear Plastic Film Polyethylene Covering Gt4 Year 6 Mil 12ft. X 25ft. By Grower’s SolutionYour greenhouse should also have a good structural foundation to withstand extreme weather conditions. There are several options for a frame and framing materials to choose from. Do-it-yourself greenhouse plans commonly use wood, steel or aluminum framing as their structural material.

After we put up our aluminum kit greenhouse, Kevin framed it in with 2 x 4’s and 4 x 4’s to help it withstand the Florida storms (pic below-we’re not quite finished with it). As we were in the path of Irma this year, we also bought some garden netting and covered the roof with it. We didn’t necessarily care if a roof panel blew off, we were just trying to keep it close by!

There are different kinds of frames available which range from simple to complex designs. Some examples of frames are Quonset, gothic, rigid-frame, post and rafter, and A-frame.

Another material to be considered is the covering or “skin” of your greenhouse. Your choice of frame and skin should correctly match. Some factors to be considered when choosing a good covering is its ability to trap the most amount of heat inside, as well as its life span. The different choices for greenhouse covering include regular glass, fiberglass, double-wall plastic, and film plastic. Our greenhouse has UV-coated polycarbonate panels.

Our greenhouse. Framing still in progress.

Consider the Foundation and Flooring

Glass frames and double-wall plastic need a permanent foundation. It is also recommended that you elevate the greenhouse a little to have enough space for water to flow. As you can see from the picture above, we put our greenhouse on a wooden deck.

Only create a permanent floor if you know you will always and only grow your plants in containers. Be careful too as your floor will pretty much always have wet spots so be careful about choosing a medium that is not slippery when wet.

You could also build walkways of gravel, concrete or stone around your plant areas.

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Greenhouse-Propagation Misting KitGreenhouse-Propagation Misting Kit

Ease of Maintenance

Once you have a good plan for the structure of your home greenhouse, the next thing to consider is maintenance. Aside from sunlight and heat, different elements are important to maintain the ideal growing condition for plants. For example, you want to consider heating, air circulation, ventilation, cooling, controllers and automation, water and lighting systems.

Free Plans For Building a Greenhouse

** Click on link below to download plans

Alabama A&M Hobby Greenhouse Construction Plans

Florida A&M University: Building a Simple and Inexpensive Greenhouse (Hoop House)

UGA Extension Hobby Greenhouses Plans

free plans build greenhouse

Conclusion

It is totally doable to build a mini greenhouse in the backyard. Do your homework first before taking on the project. It pays to learn and scout for different options before making your final decision. Have you decided that you want to build it yourself or are you going to buy and install a kit? They can be costly but the convenience and time saved may outweigh the extra dollars.

What I CAN tell you is that my greenhouse is a huge source of joy for me. There is nothing better or more therapeutic for me than hanging out in there and planting.

My regrets? I wish it was a bigger as I would love to have a little seating area in there. I had big plans for that when I first put it up but then realized how little room I really had in there after putting in my plants and raised gardens.

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