7 Things to Check Before Building a Greenhouse

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Wouldn’t it be amazing to grow tasty big tomatoes all year round for perfect BLTs or pick bright, cheerful flowers even on the dreariest days? Gardening enthusiasts can have these things and more by constructing a greenhouse in their backyards or acreages. You can choose a mini greenhouse, small greenhouse or even a barn greenhouse for whatever purposes you need it for. But there are some things you should know before even starting to find greenhouse plans or choosing a DIY greenhouse.

Here are seven things to think about before plunging ahead with your own greenhouse:

1. Your Reasons to Build One

Popular reasons for building a greenhouse or conservatory include:

  • All-season gardening – you don’t have to worry about growing vegetables in winter, the controlled environment inside the greenhouse helps everything thrive despite the cold outside.

  • The perfect environment for growing basically everything – from herbs to flowers and vegetables, the greenhouse environment secures enough heat and water vapors to make greenery thrive.

  • Saving on costs – many households spend a fortune on plants and lawn grass for their outdoor gardens each and every spring season. When you have a conservatory, you can grow as many seeds as you want, and you’ll probably have more than enough to give away to friends and family as well.

  • Multi-purpose space – when you have a greenhouse, you won’t even need a garden shed because you’ll have enough space to store tools and other equipment.

  • Plant protection – plants that grow in greenhouses are protected from unpleasant weather, pest infestations such as caterpillars, spider mites, locust swarms, and many others. Overall, plants that grow in conservatories are healthier.

2. Cost

Do you want to make a big investment or a small contribution to this greenhouse design? Do you want to do it all yourself, buy a greenhouse kit with all the building materials, or have someone else build it for you with the greenhouse design you chose? All of these decisions will alter the price.

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3. Style of Greenhouse

Choosing the style of greenhouse has a lot to do with what kind of backyard greenhouse projects you plan on doing now and in the future, such as growing enough veggies or flowers to sell at a farmer’s market. You also should consider what other styles of buildings are located on the proposed site. Here are two types of greenhouse structures to think about:

Attached Lean-toThis greenhouse is built against an existing structure on one or more of its sides. It can be attached to the house or other buildings, making it ideal for smaller homes or if you don’t plan on doing much gardening.

StandaloneIt’s a separate building. It is usually situated near the outdoor garden.

4. Walls and Windows

Pre-treated wood, aluminum, steel or even old windows can be used to build a greenhouse frame. The materials you use on that frame can vary, too. You can use old glass windows or glass picked up from a flea market or recycling center. But polyethylene has become something of a standard. As for the walls of the greenhouse, you can choose fiberglass, clear plastic sheeting, polycarbonate, old windows or glass. There are also companies that sell heat retention curtains for greenhouses.

5. Air Circulation

Automatic vent openers are a must. They prevent greenhouses from overheating — plus, the breeze is free. You might also want to get oscillating fans to be used year-round but mostly is essential in the cold months to prevent dead zones. You can also get everything in the greenhouse automated, including the fans, heat, cooling, and irrigation in case you go on vacation.

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6. Permits Needed

It really depends on where you live whether you need a building permit to build or place a greenhouse on your property. For most rural areas, it’s like adding a shed, which is an auxiliary building and you don’t need a permit. However, the closer you get to a big city, the tougher the codes are. Those jurisdictions are more likely to require a permit. Local building authorities have the final say on whether you need a permit, so check with your local planning department.

7. Strength Against Weather

If you live in an area prone to heavy wind or storms, having a greenhouse anchored to a foundation with a strong structure can prevent from it blowing away. Those anchored to heavy-duty footers are like building a home: It isn’t going anywhere. You might break some of the glass, but those are replaceable. You can also save money and build your own greenhouse with barn boards, PVC pipes, old windows or plastic sheeting for a DIY project. There are plenty of free plans for greenhouse designs online. Just be aware that you need some know-how and lots of hours to put it all together. Also, if the greenhouse frame isn’t sturdy enough to withstand a storm, high winds or the weight of snow, then all your time was wasted when it collapses or blows away.

You need to think about where the morning sun rises so you can figure sun exposure, what type of greenhouse projects you plan on doing, how much shelving you will need to grow your plants, and whether plastic sheeting or actual glass would be best for your purposes.

If you have a green thumb, you can grow anything in a greenhouse. Let us know of your own experiences in the comments below.

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