How To Build A Greenhouse

The 20 best DIY greenhouse guides

By John Ehrling Posted on 8/14/20

How to build a greenhouse? If you’ve asked yourself this question, you’ve come to the right place. Owning a greenhouse is one of the best ways to extend your growing season, or enable you to grow plants outside your growing zone. The USDA has created a wonderful tool that helps you identify your growing zone. In the United States, growing zones are divided up by numbers 1-13, 1 being the coldest climate (Alaska), 13 being the hottest (Hawaii), with further division into “A” or “B” zones. Example: If you live in growing zone 5B, you can comfortably plant flowers or vegetables better suited for zones 7 or 8 by building a greenhouse.

A greenhouse artificially recreates the “greenhouse gas effect” caused by methane in the earths atmosphere that is partially responsible for the earths rising temperatures. As light enters your greenhouse, some of the warmth is trapped inside, causing the temperate inside your greenhouse to rise. Depending on where you live, the temperature inside your greenhouse can easily be several degrees (Celsius) warmer than outside.

If you’re looking to plant flowers and vegetables year round, or if you’re looking to explore plant varietals not typical in your growing zone, consider building one of these twenty greenhouses below.

All greenhouses will require basic building materials and effort:

  • Nails or screws
  • 2″x 2″ or 2″ x 4″ lumber
  • Covering: Glass, plastic, or clear tarp
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Saw
  • Drill or screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Eye protection

Greenhouses

1: Geodesic Dome
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A geodesic dome is the most stable greenhouse you can build. The dome shape created with interlocking triangles creates a structurally sound greenhouse that is very wind and snow resistant. Wind pressures and weight from snow is evenly distributed around the dome. Plus, with fewer flat surfaces, wind can curve around the dome, opposed to pushing against it. Also, lets face it, the dome is definitely the most visually appealing! Our friend Bren Haas has a gorgeous geodesic dome, be sure to read our Bren Haas interview.

Difficulty Level: High

2: The BuildEazy Greenhouse
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This greenhouse is very traditional. Created with basic lumber you can find at any lumber retailer and plastic sheeting. This greenhouse is ideal for beginners as it can be completed in a days worth of time. If you have extra time, you can add on the ventilation hatch seen at the top of the greenhouse.

Difficulty Level: Easy

3: Ana White Greenhouse
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This beautiful greenhouse designed by Ana White is reliable. It uses a traditional square frame, then a gabled roof for reinforcement. The gabled roof helps redirect water and snow weight off the roof quickly. The sides are reinforced with metal sheeting then utilize hard-plastic sheeting for the roofing. Because of the metal and hard plastic, this type of a greenhouse is more expensive than most, but will require less maintenance and last longer than most greenhouses.

Difficulty Level: Medium

4: Fiddle Head Greenhouse
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The Fiddle Head greenhouse is a half-cylinder shape. It’s built using wood beams for the base and center of the structure, then arced PVC pipes. The curved nature of this greenhouse makes it very resilient to the elements and ideal for those looking for a challenge. This greenhouse is more difficult to build than a typical square greenhouse due to the tension created from bending the PVC pipes.

Difficulty Level: High

5: Traditional Greenhouse
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When you think of a greenhouse, this is the type that comes to mind. Easy to build and reliable. The writers over at How To Specialist did an excellent job creating an easy to follow guide on how to build this traditional greenhouse. If this is your first attempt at a DIY greenhouse, build this one!

Difficulty Level: Medium

6: Retractable Greenhouse
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This cute little greenhouse reminds us more of a cold-frame because its so small. You build a small wooden frame then create a “track” using PVC to extend or retract the roof for access. This greenhouse is simple, quick, and a fun way to enjoy greenhouse gardening without needing to spend the entire weekend building it.

Difficulty Level: Easy

7: Wall Greenhouse

A unique feature of the wall greenhouse is you get to build less. By building your greenhouse into a wall, or side of your home, you cut the required effort by 25%! You also gain the advantage of one side of the greenhouse protecting it from strong winds. This quick and easy DIY greenhouse is perfect for beginners and utilizes a lot of cheap materials!

Difficulty Level: Easy

8: The $50 Greenhouse
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This greenhouse quick and cheap! It’s perfect for the frugal gardener. The recommended steps for building this greenhouse involve scouring your home for scraps and putting it together with minimal investment. If you do not have any spare parts laying around, it can cost a little more than $50. Either way, its the cheapest full size greenhouse money can build.

Difficulty Level: Easy

9: The Walk-Out Greenhouse
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Similar to the wall greenhouse, this greenhouse is built into the side of your home where you have an exit! This type of a greenhouse prevents the need to go outside when you want to garden. If its raining out, you can just open your door and step out into your greenhouse so you can garden anytime!

Difficulty Level: Medium

10: IDEA Donna Greenhouse
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Perfect for beginners. This DIY greenhouse uses a very traditional design and reduces the amount of work required by utilizing wood panels on the sides. The wood panels help reinforce the structure of the greenhouse, making it ideal for those who want to build something easy and sturdy.

Difficulty Level: Easy

11: Fold-Up Greenhouse
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As simple as they come. This greenhouse uses the side of your house and a simple frame. Then you extend the tarp down and hold it down to the ground with a bar and some bricks. This greenhouse is great if you’re looking for something quick and easy. Although we recommend you eventually build something more stable for the long run of your garden.

Difficulty Level: Very Easy

12: Cedar Greenhouse
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Stunning. This greenhouse is a real attention grabber. This greenhouse is expert level. It requires a large investment and can be created using a greenhouse kit. While this greenhouse may take much longer than most to build, it is very structurally sound and an attractive addition to your property.

Difficulty Level: Very Hard

13: Bamboo Greenhouse
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The only greenhouse on the list where you can grow half the materials! This fun greenhouse replaces the normal wooden beams with bamboo! This is a great choice for creative types who are also looking to save money by growing their own structural materials!

Difficulty Level: Medium

14: Plexiglass Greenhouse
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Another greenhouse that can be built into the side of another structure, or standalone. What makes this greenhouse unique, is it replaces clear tarp with hard plexiglass windows. The plexiglass make this entire greenhouse very visually appealing and interesting.

Difficulty Level: Hard

15: The Polytunnel “mini” Greenhouse
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This mini greenhouse is similar to a cold frame. Its an excellent entry level greenhouse for those who are interested in building their first greenhouse or are new to gardening. You need very few supplies to build this greenhouse. A little bit of lumber, PVC pipes, and clear tarp and you’re done!

Difficulty Level: Very Easy

16: Black + Decker Greenhouse
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The Black+Decker greenhouse is ideal for those who want to build a greenhouse from a kit. Kitted greenhouses are perfect for those who want easy to follow instructions and all pieces included. This greenhouse requires much less planning than those that require you to buy all your own materials separately.

Difficulty Level: Medium

17: Seasonal Greenhouse
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This greenhouse is seasonal because its not weatherproof. The flat roof is prone to water or snow pooling on top which risks the roof collapsing. But if you’re looking for a very simple build for only a few months this greenhouse is perfect as a temporary solution for your plants.

Difficulty Level: Easy

18: Gazebo Greenhouse
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You can either build this octagonal greenhouse, or utilize an existing gazebo as the base for your greenhouse. These greenhouses are extremely sturdy and if you already have a gazebo, require minimal effort to complete. You can easily add plexiglass or hard plastic sheeting to the window sections of your gazebo to create this greenhouse.

Difficulty Level: Hard (if built from scratch) Easy (if using existing gazebo)

19: Pallet Wrap Greenhouse
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A super quick and easy greenhouse for temporary usage. All you need is some basic pallets to build a frame, then plastic wrap. Really great if you want to try growing some plants from outside your growing zone but only want to do it for one season before building something more permanent.

Difficulty Level: Very Easy

20: Small Hatch Roof Greenhouse
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This small greenhouse allows you to open the roof hatches to access your garden. This short greenhouse does not have a door for entry, everything is accessed through the roof. You can create these from build kits or DIY. This is a simple weekend project that will be rewarding for many years!

Difficulty Level: Medium

There you have it! If you’re a savvy gardener who’s looking to build a greenhouse, we hope our list of top 20 greenhouses serves you well. DIY greenhouses truly are perfect for those looking for an inexpensive way to extend their growing season or plant outside their growing zone.

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