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How to Build a Greenhouse: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Build a Greenhouse: A Comprehensive Guide

Learning how to build a greenhouse can be an exciting and fulfilling project for those starting their gardening journey. A DIY greenhouse provides year-round shelter from climate extremes so you can grow fruits, vegetables and flowers all year long! In this comprehensive guide we cover essential steps and recommended equipment needed for creating one – follow these tips to provide your plants with optimal growing conditions so you can reap fresh produce as well as beautiful blooms throughout their growing seasons!

Understanding Greenhouse Basics

Before embarking on any construction process, it’s essential to gain an understanding of how greenhouses function fundamentally.

How Greenhouses Work

A greenhouse works to retain heat and create an ideal growing environment for plants to flourish. Made out of glass or plastic walls and roof, sunlight penetrates to warm its interior as heat-trapping materials trap it inside creating an interior temperature warmer than the outside temperature.

Types of Greenhouses

There is an array of greenhouse options to consider, each offering their own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Freestanding Greenhouses

freestanding greenhouse

These greenhouse structures provide greater flexibility when it comes to size and location, usually at an increased initial cost but providing greater room for future expansion.

Lean-to Greenhouses

lean-to greenhouse

Lean-to greenhouses can be attached to existing buildings using one wall as support, making them less expensive and easier to heat because they share one of their walls with an already heated structure.

Hoop Houses

hoop house

These simple yet cost-effective housing units are created from metal or PVC pipes bent into half circles and covered with plastic sheeting for insulation. While cost and ease are advantages, insulation might not provide as many long-term advantages.

Cold Frame Greenhouse

Cold Frame Greenhouse

A cold frame greenhouse is a small greenhouse structure made from wood or metal with tempered glass windows or plastic lids designed to grow delicate plants in limited spaces. This mini greenhouse is great for starting seeds and protecting delicate blooms but offers limited growing space.

Choosing the Right Location for Your Greenhouse

Assembling your greenhouse at an accessible site is key to providing optimal growing conditions and easy access.

Sunlight Exposure

Opt for a location with optimal sunlight exposure, ideally receiving at least six hours of direct sun per day. A south-facing position is best in the northern hemisphere while north-facing positions work better in the southern.


Make sure your greenhouse location is easily accessible, with enough room for pathways and maneuvering equipment. Keep water sources, electrical outlets, and any necessary storage areas close at hand.

Ground Conditions

Select a site with well-draining soil to avoid waterlogging and any possible foundational damages caused by moisture build-up. If necessary, level the ground before beginning construction.

Designing Your Greenhouse

Once you’ve decided on an ideal site for your greenhouse, the next step should be designing it. Think carefully about its size, shape and recycled materials to best meet your needs.

Size and Layout

Carefully consider how much growing space you require as well as any additional spaces such as storage, potting benches or seating areas. Be sure to leave enough room for future expansion if necessary – an ideal layout should provide enough breathing room between plants for proper airflow and easy maintenance.


Greenhouse frames can be constructed of various materials, such as wood, aluminum, PVC pipe or galvanized steel. Each material offers different advantages and disadvantages; select one that best meets your budget and preferences. Glass or polycarbonate roof panels and walls are often the go-to choices; while the former provides an excellent amount of light transmission at reduced costs but may be less resilient and durable than its latter counterpart.

Building the Greenhouse Foundation

An effective foundation is key for any greenhouse. It provides stability and protects from shifting ground or standing water that could otherwise cause significant damage.

Types of Foundations

There are various foundation options to select from.

  • Concrete slab: A concrete slab provides an effective, sturdy base for greenhouses. While durable and highly insulating, installing it may prove costly and challenging.
  • Pier and beam: This foundation consists of concrete piers supporting a wooden beam structure. While this option is less costly than using concrete slabs for support, insulation may not provide equal levels of warmth.
  • Gravel or crushed stone: Gravel or crushed stone bases offer more affordable drainage and can easily be leveled, making this an economical choice.

Preparing the Ground

Before constructing your greenhouse foundation, the ground must be properly prepared. Remove any vegetation, level the area and compact the soil as much as possible to avoid settling of your foundation. Furthermore, consider installing drainage systems to divert any surplus water away from your greenhouse.

Constructing the Greenhouse Frame

With your greenhouse base ready, the next step should be constructing its frame. This step may differ depending on what kind of greenhouse and materials you select for its construction.

Assembling the Frame

Follow either manufacturer instructions or your own greenhouse plans when assembling a framed greenhouse. Make sure all joints are secure, level, and square before proceeding.

Installing Doors and Windows

Install doors, windows and any necessary vents during the framing process and ensure they’re properly sealed to avoid drafts and heat loss.

Installing the Greenhouse Covering

Once your frame is complete, the next step should be installing its covering – typically consisting of attaching glass or polycarbonate roof panels to it.

Cutting and Fitting Panels

Measure and cut panels to fit precisely within your frame, leaving for any necessary overlaps. Secure them to it using appropriate hardware or clips.

Sealing the Greenhouse

Before installing panels, ensure all joints and seams are sealed to prevent drafts and heat loss. Caulk or weatherstripping may be used to fill any gaps that remain after caulking has been applied.

Equipping Your Greenhouse

Once the structure is in place, it’s time to equip your greenhouse with tools and systems necessary for plant growth.

Heating and Cooling Systems

Install heating and cooling systems to help ensure a steady temperature within your greenhouse, such as heaters, fans or air conditioning units depending on its climate and your individual needs.


Proper ventilation is essential to keeping air flowing freely and avoiding humidity build-up, and installing vents, windows, or exhaust fans to allow this air circulation is the way forward.


Grow lights provide additional illumination throughout the day for optimal plant growth, so be sure to choose energy-saving LED or fluorescent models for the best results.


Maintaining healthy plants requires installing an efficient irrigation system. Drip irrigation, soaker hoses or misting systems provide your plants with consistent access to water supply and will keep their roots nourished with the necessary nourishment.

Preparing Your Greenhouse for Planting

Before adding a few plants to your greenhouse, make sure that it has been adequately prepared and sterilized.

Cleaning the Greenhouse

Clean the interior surfaces of your greenhouse regularly – including its floor, walls and roof – to avoid spreading diseases or pests. Doing so will also help ensure that there are no accidents due to dirt accumulations on these surfaces.

Sterilizing Pots and Tools

Sterilize all pots, trays and garden tools you plan on using in your greenhouse to reduce the risk of pathogens or pests entering.

Preparing the Soil

If your greenhouse floor consists of soil, it’s important to make sure it’s adequately prepared. This may involve tilling the area before adding compost or fertilizers as necessary and leveling off any areas with uneven surfaces.

Planting and Maintaining Your Greenhouse

Once your greenhouse is ready to go, it’s time to begin planting and reaping the rewards of year-round gardening.

Plant Selection

Choose a few plants suitable for greenhouse growing, such as tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. When selecting your plants take into account climate, light requirements, space requirements and any restrictions.

Regular Maintenance

Keep a regular watchful eye out for signs of pests or diseases on your plants, and address any issues immediately. To minimize problems in the greenhouse environment, be sure to keep it neat and orderly at all times.

Seasonal Adjustments

As seasons and daylight hours shift, adjust temperatures, lighting, and watering schedules accordingly to account for seasonal variations in climate and daylight hours.

Utilizing the Right Equipment for Greenhouse Construction

Utilizing the appropriate equipment when building your greenhouse can streamline and expedite the process, assuring a safe, cost-efficient build.

Laser Level

Laser levels are invaluable tools in creating an even foundation and frame, providing stability and structural integrity for a greenhouse.

Aerial Lifts

Aerial lifts such as telehandlers, boom lifts, and scissor lifts are useful tools in lifting heavy materials during construction projects such as beams and glass panels.


Rototillers can help level the ground and prepare the soil for planting, making them an indispensable tool in greenhouse construction and maintenance.
Following these steps and using the appropriate equipment will enable you to build a greenhouse successfully and take advantage of year-round gardening. With some careful planning and dedication, your greenhouse could soon be harvesting fresh produce and gorgeous flowers!

You can save money when building your greenhouse by renting the equipment you need, such as a scissor lift or a boom lift, from BigRentz. When you do, you won’t have to pay for transportation to your job site, storage, maintenance, repairs, or insurance. You can also choose the best machinery to build your greenhouse without paying a premium price. Rent for as little as a few hours or more than a month with no hassles.

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