Build Cheap. Build Easy. Grow Your Garden.
A do-it-yourself greenhouse project for the price conscientious gardener
By DJ Hayes | Image by Christina Morales
The word “greenhouse” conjures images of delicate glass temples, housing beautiful plants like the conservatory of flowers in Golden Gate Park of San Francisco.
While you can certainly purchase a ready-made greenhouse from a garden store, the price can be thousands of dollars. Making your own greenhouse can help keep the green in your pocket and garden.
The following lists lays out the material, process and tips needed to successfully build your new greenhouse. There are several open-source designs to seek out for do-it-yourself greenhouses. The hoop house has become the design standard. Hoop’s are quick to assemble, the materials are cheap and the simple design allows for plenty of customization.
Your greenhouse can be sized to your needs and is reusable upon tear-down. The curved top of the structure also allows for the cover to be easily removed and replaced, making it a good choice if you desire to control the amount of direct sunlight.
• 20’ long 1’’ diameter PVC (one section per 2’ length of greenhouse)
• 10’ portion of Rebar (one portion per 4’ length of greenhouse)
• Visqueen/Polywoven (20’ longer and 10’ wider than greenhouse)
• Tape (as in nature, Gorilla beats Duck)
• Bailing wire
• Small sledge
• 12 pony clamps
• Heavy objects (rocks, logs, bags of soil etc.)
• Bolt cutters/Sawzall (not cheap, but you know a guy right?)
• Case of cheap beer (cuts labor costs)
1.) Select a flat location that suits your sizing needs.
2.) Measure out a 16 foot side. (width)
3.) Measure out the desired length of the greenhouse. (length)
Note: The greenhouse must be an even number of whole feet for these measurements. (Example: 32’ or 120’)
4.) Cut each 10’ piece of rebar into four 30” pieces.
Sink the rebar into the ground about 15” deep on the outside of your frame at two foot intervals. This will leave 15” sticking up out of the ground.
Note: Angling the top of the rebar toward the center of the greenhouse will prevent the PVC from slipping off in the future.
5.) Slide single PVC or acrylic sheet over rebar and do the same on corresponding side to create a “hoop.” This is a good moment to survey the angle of your first hoop. The hoop should show you if your lines are straight and parallel.
6.) Repeat process until desired length of your greenhouse is complete.
7.) Run a length of PVC on the inside of the series of hoops. Attach to each hoop with bailing wire and then cover with tape. Additional adhesives can be added for security. This is a job best suited for two people.
8.) Cut four seven foot lengths of PVC. For structural support, run the lengths of PVC diagonally on all four corners. This will reduce sway and increases structural integrity.
9.) Cover with cover. Make sure it’s even.
10.) There should be plenty of overlap on either side. Weigh down one broad side of the plastic.
11.) Go to opposite side and pull it tight. Weigh this side down as well.
12.) Attach six evenly spaced clamps to the first and last hoop of the greenhouse. At this point your openings should be looking pretty sturdy.
13.) Roll cover to suit your needs for open ended or sealed greenhouse.
14.) Inspect greenhouse for quality and workmanship.
15.) Step back and smoke a joint to admire the wondrous structure you built.
16.) Open one of those optional beers.
Be cautious. Be safe.
Before pulling the cover over the hoops, be sure to inspect for protruding bailing wire or rough PVC edges. This could slice your cover to useless shreds in an instant.
Additional pony clamps can serve as a door stop of sorts. Use a pair of clamps to attach the door-flap to one of the hoops.
Storing an apple with potatoes will prevent the potatoes from growing eyes.
The structure you end up with should be reminiscent of a plastic Quonset hut. There should be adequate space for two rows of your favorite flowers. There are many
options for making this greenhouse more detailed, including adding a door or adding a box-fan for ventilation. As the greenhouse stands, it is ready for use and will hopefully come to serve its literal function, a home you built for your green.
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