Constructing a DIY backyard greenhouse can be a fun project for the whole family. It will provide the perfect place to grow plants, fruit and vegetables. Orchids, cacti and tropical fruits need the warmth and protection of a greenhouse if they are to thrive in colder climates. Before you start to build the structure, it is a good idea to research some of the common construction materials used to build greenhouses.
Three major decisions largely determine what you will need for this DIY build. The first consideration is the design; you can choose between several styles such as an ‘A’-frame, slant-sided, lean-to, Gothic arch or Quonset. Some curved styles will be best suited to flexible coverings like PE (polyethylene film), whereas squarer structures require more rigid coverings like glass or plastic. If you have decided on a style and a material for the covering, you must also select an appropriate matter from which to construct the frame.
The substance you pick for the frame depends largely on the type of covering to be used, as well as on price and permanence. Wood is often used; always ensure that it has been correctly treated for outdoor applications. Galvanized or aluminum frames are durable and relatively maintenance-free. PVC pipes can be bent into shape for Quonset-type frames, and covered in PE.
Remember that glass is an expensive option for greenhouse covering. It can also become brittle with age and exposure to the elements, and is obviously prone to being smashed. The weightiness of glass means that framework will have to be sturdily built, again pushing up costs.
Fiberglass reinforced panels are a lighter alternative to glass, made from polycarbonate or acrylic. Being lighter mans that they demand less structural support. They are durable and retain heat within the greenhouse more efficiently than glass. These panels are also sufficiently flexible to be shaped to fit a Quonset design.
The least expensive material with which to cover a greenhouse frame is PE. It is also by far the most lightweight choice. One major drawback with PE is that it tends to have a lifespan of around two years, after which it will need to be replaced. If you do with this option it is worth investing in proper attachments that can be easily removed and put back in place when new PE sheeting has been fitted.
Other frequently used construction materials include slabs or mulch on the ground of the greenhouse to suppress the growth of weeds. Whatever method has been selected, secure footings (either poured concrete or concrete blocks) will be required before starting to erect the framework. Footings must always extend beyond the frost-line. Side-walls can be an aesthetically pleasing addition to a greenhouse. Most people use concrete blocks, bricks or stone for walls, but clapboard, shingles or asbestos rock can also be good. Most DIY greenhouse builds can be completed using only simple hand tools.
Size is obviously an important element in the planning for a greenhouse erection. This will depend upon the amount of garden space that is available and also local planning regulations. The height of the gardener and the plants they intend to grow will also affect the height required. Location is equally significant. A convenient position that is accessible in winter conditions makes sense, as does ensuring that tall structures and trees will not block the sunlight. In the US, a South-East to South-West alignment for the longer sides of the greenhouse will be the orientation that gives maximum sun coverage.
Appropriate equipment can be used to adjust the climate inside the greenhouse to suit the particular needs of the specific plants that you wish to propagate or grow. Planning and purchases will be necessary to ensure that the greenhouse has a supply of power and water for such equipment. You might also want to think about drainage and the means of removing waste. As soon as all these factors have been taken into account, it is time to measure and mark out a floor plan. This can be done using string, and sticks can be used to represent the height of the structure. If all the criteria are met, the actual building can go ahead.
In these days where recycling is paramount, and money tight, it can be a good idea to use old windows, doors and even plastic bottles instead of the more common construction materials used to build greenhouses. A large greenhouse can be made out of 1,500 2-litre bottles. Four 4″ by 4″ supports and 2″ by 2″ frames can be attached to the bottles on a cane using staples. Repeat this process for the roof and you are ready to start growing.
Hopefully you have discovered which greenhouse building materials will be best for your backyard project. Thanks for reading!