Greenhouses offer gardeners and farmers many advantages. They let you raise seedlings earlier in the spring than Mother Nature would allow outdoors and keep mature plants alive longer into the fall. You can even grow some crops in some areas year-round with a greenhouse.
In addition to helping, you control the climate, a greenhouse provides a natural barrier to protect your plants against deer, rabbits, and other mammals as well as voracious pests. Greenhouses can even offer some protection against plant diseases if you are careful about what you bring into them.
Greenhouses are great, but they are a large investment. A new one can cost thousands of dollars. Even a used one, if you can find it, can be expensive. And then there is the challenge and cost of transporting it.
DripWorks is here to help with some top DIY greenhouse plans. Building a greenhouse DIY-style can range from easy to hard, depending on what you have in mind. But using options to build it yourself can save you hundreds compared to the cost of buying new.
If you are good at scrounging, recycling, and upcycling construction materials, you might even be able to build one for free. Here is a brief overview of some of the top DIY greenhouse ideas according to cost, size, and your skill level.
Hoop Greenhouses and Cold Frames
These are some of the easiest and least expensive to build. One of the simplest and cheapest is a cold frame greenhouse measuring 4' by 6'. For the frame, the handiest among us can simply find some tree branches. Sharpen the edges, bend them in a hoop shape and insert them in a line in the ground. Then attach plastic sheeting to this frame with twine, zip ties or whatever else you have. Voila! You have frost protection for your plants.
If you want to go a little larger or prefer purchased materials, you can also build a 5' by 12' cold frame. This will require some extra expense and skills. Cut and bend PVC pipes in a hoop shape to form a frame. Then anchor it to the ground and attach plastic sheeting. You might be able to create this for as little as $25 if you have a few materials lying around.
A bigger, 11' by 15' hoop greenhouse might cost you about $50 if you have many of the materials on hand or are good at finding them for free. It could run about $200 if you have to buy new materials. You will need intermediate skills as well as PVC plumbing pipe, lumber such as 2x4s, 6 mil plastic sheeting and fasteners. Using 20' lengths of 3/4" PVC pipe and the lumber, create a frame. Then attach the plastic sheeting.
A retractable 8' x 10' hoop greenhouse is an option for those who want to grow crops, such as cold-hardy greens, during the winter and continue to garden throughout the rest of the year. Built in a similar way to other hoop greenhouses, this greenhouse cover can simply be manually retracted when the weather warms.
New Uses for Old Building Materials
Perhaps you have some old windows, doors or storm windows on hand or know of a good place to get them free or cheap. These outcast construction materials can provide plenty of inexpensive greenhouse options.
If your needs are small, you can build a little greenhouse with storm windows. It provides a great place to start seeds or extend the season for mature plants. With storm windows, some scrap lumber, 2x4s and fasteners, you can construct your own mini greenhouse easily. Simply build a frame with the lumber. Then attach the storm windows to the frame. Make sure to allow ventilation for the greenhouse and to use hinges for one of the windows to provide access.
House windows provide an easy way to build a smaller, low-cost greenhouse. You can build a greenhouse measuring 10' by 6' or as large or small as your window supply allows. For less than $300, you will have a greenhouse that costs about 10% of a similar-sized new one. Build a frame with 2x4s and 4x4s and attach the windows to it. Use rocks or stones for the floor to provide good drainage and retain heat. Scrounge some materials for the roof, making sure to leave space for ventilation.
It is also possible to make greenhouses with old doors that have glass in them. People have made greenhouses out of plastic bottles, CD jewel cases and many other materials.
Do not let money stand in the way of you and a great garden. With a little imagination and sweat, you can build your own greenhouse and save some money while also helping to save the planet.