Growing your own food goes a long way toward cutting down on the grocery bill. If you’re ready to own your very first greenhouse, you likely don’t want to spend a lot of money to obtain one. But you do want it to last.
Following an expert landscape contractor’s advice on how to build your own greenhouse, then, is a plausible route to take. So, we’ve listed the nuts and bolts of how one such expert suggests that you build your first greenhouse.
How Greenhouse’s Function
The purpose of a greenhouse is to help plants grow better than they would out in the elements. A greenhouse facilitates plant growth mainly through trapping heat and light.
Quality plastic allows in just the right combination of warm direct sunlight and diffused light. Heat stored in brick flooring will warm the air during the night. Stone and water also hold heat. Understanding these kinds of things will help you make good purchasing decisions.
Steps to Build a Greenhouse
Landscape contractor, Roger Cook, of Ask This Old House fame, suggests that you build a simple, low-cost greenhouse using PVC pipes and 2” x 4” wood beams (referred to as 2x4s) for the framework. You’ll need a utility knife, staple gun, PVC pipe saw, small sledgehammer, auger, circular saw, impact driver, and a cordless drill/driver. Here are the basic building steps:
- Determine your greenhouse dimensions and cut 2x4s for the base. Use 3-inch screws to fasten the wood base together.
- Get your drill and auger handy. Working inside each base corner, bore 1 ½-inch diameter holes into the ground. Then make two evenly-spaced holes along each side of the base.
- Grab the 1-inch diameter PVC pipes and the short sections of the 1 ¼ -inch PVC pipes. Glue a reducing coupling and a short-section pipe onto each end of the 1-inch pipes using PVC primer and cement.
- Attach one end of a PVC pipe to a galvanized pipe. Bend the PVC pipe toward the opposite corner and attach the other end to the protruding galvanized pipe there. Install the other three PVC pipes the same way.
- Use U-shaped metal pipe brackets and 1 ¼-inch screw and washers to secure the PVC pipe ends to the base.
- Make two door frames out of 2×4 wood. Use screws to attach a frame at each end of the base.
- Make four diagonal 2×4 braces and attach two of them to each door frame.
- Cut two 2×4 beams to match the length of your greenhouse. Attach the ends of the beams to the door frames using screws.
- Use pressure-treated 2×2 wood pieces to make two doors.
- Attach the doors to the door frames using three three-inch butt hinges on each door.
- Attach a short wood block to each door frame using a screw. These blocks will serve as latches.
- Pull plastic sheeting over the entire frame, using sheeting that is 4-mil or 6-mil.
- Staple the sheeting to the 2×4 framework, door frames, and doors using ¼-inch staples. Space the staples three inches apart.
- Using your utility knife, cut the sheeting around each door.
- Cut and trim where needed.
The Importance of the Plastic Covering that You Use
Greenhouse sheeting only lasts a few years out in the elements. However, you can find high-performance sheeting that is made with a five-layer technology that gives the plastic a high level of strength and flexibility. High-performance sheeting has a 6-mil polyethylene film (rather than 4-mil) and comes with a four-year warranty.
This special greenhouse plastic reduces dust absorption, is UV-resistant, and transmits more than 90% of the light that hits while diffusing 20%. Direct light allows your plants to grow, while diffused light creates even lighting. Diffused light is especially good for self-shading and tall plants, which otherwise typically get uneven light exposure.
You’re about to join the many families who are lowering their grocery bills by growing food at home. And now you know how to build a greenhouse and you understand why it is important to purchase a quality plastic sheeting for it.