30 DIY Greenhouses That Will Look Amazing in Your Backyard
If you've caught the gardening bug in the last year, you know you can never have too many plants! From annuals and perennials to flowering shrubs and small trees, it's easy to fall in love with new plants to add to your garden. But if you live in a cold climate—or if you want to start seedlings for a vegetable or flower garden early to get a jumpstart on spring—you need a greenhouse. You'll be able to save some of your favorite plants for the next season, as well as shelter tender plants or seedlings until you can set them out in the spring. Even if you don't have tons of space, there are greenhouses that will fit tidily up against your house or on your patio or deck. Another option is a cold frame, which generally is lower to the ground but also warms up the soil and allows you to plant sooner in the spring. Just remember that many budget-priced options are not meant to be permanent so they won't stand up to wind or heavy snow.
Now, check out a few DIY and inexpensive greenhouses you can buy to make your plants happy.
Never did we expect last year to take such a strange turn. The Corona crisis has made the world a different place. However, it seems more and more people are discovering the joy of homegrown vegetables. A greenhouse will let you take home growing to the next level and enjoy gardening all year long. In this article we’ll discuss the best greenhouse kits to buy this year.
Maybe you’re quite the handy (wo)man and want to build a greenhouse from scratch. If you are an enthusiastic DIY’er, there’s plenty of manuals to find online to start building. If you are like me and prefer to receive a detailed plan and all the parts in one delivery, you’ll find a wide range of greenhouse kits. It will still be cheaper than having a company install the greenhouse for you, but you will need fewer tools and equipment. Delivered to your doorstep, with manuals and customer support you can contact. That’s my kind of DIY.
A special mention goes to the Palram greenhouse kits. You’ll find one in nearly every category underneath. When it comes to budget friendly versus quality, they are the absolute winner in the greenhouse world. A Palram greenhouse kit is affordable, sturdy and we really like the designs. In case you want to research this brand a little more, we have written an entire article on Palram greenhouses.
The perfect greenhouse kit for your needs?
When you’re researching the possibility of placing a greenhouse in your backyard, we realize the number of different styles, sizes and prices can be overwhelming. The perfect greenhouse kit for you will depend on a number of factors:
- Material – Glass or polycarbonate? A plastic or polycarbonate greenhouse is the most common choice. These plastic greenhouses are easily set up and budget-friendly. However, if you want to go for a more luxurious look and are willing to spend a little more, a glass greenhouse kit can be a great investment to brighten up your yard. Glass greenhouses are very durable and come in beautiful designs.
- Size – Oh boy… Where do we even begin? Greenhouse kits come in many sizes, they start as small as 4’x4’ and go all the way up to 8’x24’. The most common hobby size is 6’x8’, if you’re looking for a first-time greenhouse kit, this might be a good starting point! Take a look at our article about greenhouse sizes, to find the perfect size for you.
- Price – A mini greenhouse will cost you less than $100, a semi-professional model can go all the way up to $10.000. In this case, size matters. Glass greenhouses are usually more expensive than plastic or polycarbonate greenhouses. We’ll help you find the best, budget-friendly greenhouse kit of 2021.
- Lean to or not – A lean to greenhouse kit will be installed against one of the outside walls of your house. The perfect solution when you have a smaller yard or want to benefit from the electricity and water inside your house to easily access the greenhouse. Take a look at our lean to article to see the possibilities of this type of greenhouse.
Let’s walk you through the best greenhouse kits of 2021!
Best plastic greenhouse kits
When we say plastic greenhouse kits, we mean greenhouses with polycarbonate panels or greenhouses with plastic covers. The polycarbonate panels are strong, durable and budget-friendly. The plastic cover greenhouses are portable and light, but less weather resistant. These plastic cover greenhouses are a good solution to protect your plants in the summer, but won’t withstand winter conditions. Our favorite greenhouse kits are definitely the polycarbonate greenhouses, they come in many different sizes and shapes!
Best small plastic greenhouse kits
Looking for a small greenhouse kit? It kind of all depends on what a small greenhouse means to you. Like we said, greenhouses come in all sizes, but we have listed our favorite smaller options below. When you buy a small greenhouse kit, make sure you think about where and when you want to use it. The portables are only suited to use outside during spring, summer and maybe fall, but have the benefit they can be placed inside during winter. A 6’x6′ Palram greenhouse is an excellent starters greenhouse and probably my favorite in this category. It’s big enough to allow you to grow a good amount of plants, it’s sturdy enough to survive winter (and even grow some winter vegetables) and I like the classic look. Ready to start growing?
- 🍃【Strong Construction】This mini walk-in greenhouse is built with high quality metal frame with powder coating, durable bearing net on each layer is strong enough to hold more seed trays, pots and plants growth. The clear waterproof PE cover protects plants from frost or pests while allowing nourishing sunlight to pass through.
- 🍃【Indoor Outdoor Greenhouse】Waterproof and UV protection, ideal growing environment , can be used indoor and outdoor at all seasons. Perfect for protecting young plants or extending the plant growing season.
- 🍃【Portable & Easy Setup】Overall Dimensions: 57"L x 57"W x 77"H, Perfect Size for Easy Moving to Indoor or Outdoors. Easy to assemble, no tools required. Enjoying a lot of fun of the flowers and plants in your leisure time!
- Virtually unbreakable 4 mm twin-wall polycarbonate panels block up to 99.9% of UV rays and diffuse sun light eliminating the risk of plant burn and shade areas
- Rust resistant aluminum frame with 36 sq. feet of growing space
- Includes adjustable roof vent, rain gutters, lockable door handle with magnetic door catch and a galvanized steel base for structural support
Best large plastic greenhouse kits
So… These small plastic greenhouses are nice and all but you’re looking for something a little more spectacular? Take a look at the large greenhouse kits underneath. When you add this much growing space to your backyard, the sky really is the limit. Combine herbs, spices, vegetables and even tropical flowers and turn your greenhouse into a sanctuary. Pro tip for a large greenhouse? Add a little reading corner, a perfect hide away during rainy days!
Best lean to greenhouse kits
A lean to greenhouse kit is a greenhouse you build against a wall or another structure. It only has three greenhouse sides and uses your home or garden shed as a fourth wall. The benefit of building a greenhouse up against your house, is that you can easily access water and electricity from your home. Your greenhouse will be more protected from the elements, as your home or shed already protects it from heavy winds.
The most popular lean to greenhouse kit size is 4’x8′, perfect for enough growing space but not too big (and thus affordable). Another, more expensive, option is to build a large lean to greenhouse, that can double as a sun room. You can install a door from your house and enjoy every ray of sunshine a crisp winter day brings you. Combine this sunroom with a growing corner and you’re ready to go!
- Quickly and easily cover your porch, deck or patio entrance
- Roof panels are 100% UV protected, 4mm twin-wall polycarbonate to protect from direct sunlight
- 3mm translucent acrylic wall panels are 100% UV protected and as clear as glass but safer
Best glass greenhouse kits
While most greenhouses these days are made out of plastic, the original British greenhouses were made out of glass. And to be honest… It’s still the classiest greenhouse option on the market. These Victorian greenhouse kits belong to my absolute favorites, but unfortunately, they do come with a price tag. When you’re looking to add a showpiece to your backyard, that will last you many, many years, these Victorian greenhouse kits are the perfect option for you.
The glass in these kits is safety glass and almost as sturdy as plastic, but it will last you longer. Plastic greenhouses might start to fade over time or the panels can become a little faded. A glass greenhouse is not only beautiful and classy, it’s also durable. What do you think? Can these Victorian kits allure you?
Portable greenhouse kits
Portable greenhouse kits are a budget friendly and compact alternative to glass or plastic greenhouses. Not only can you move them around and find the most sunny spot in spring and a cool spot in summer, you can also take them inside during winter! When we started out in a small apartment in the city, we would use our portable greenhouse kit to grow tomatoes and spices and move it from our balcony to the kitchen. Take a look at our portable greenhouse article if you want to know more!
Mini greenhouse kits
Not quite sure if a greenhouse is your thing? Do you just want to brighten up your balcony or patio with a small greenhouse and grow some spicy peppers or yummy tomatoes? A mini greenhouse kit might be just what you’re looking for! A low investment and still the chance to grow fresh vegetables. And who knows, maybe you’ll love it and soon be on the lookout for a bigger model!
- This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process includes functionality testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging. The product ships with all relevant accessories, and may arrive in a generic box
- [Perfect House For Plants]: Mini Greenhouse Provide A Warm And Humid Environment To Help Plants Grow or Seed Breeding.Durable PVC Cover Protect Plants/Flower From Bad Weather, Including Strong Wind, Heavy Rain, Frost And Harmful Insects.
- [Portable Design]: Pop up Greenhouse no Assembly Required,Open it to Use.Stored flat or folded when not in Use.Light weight and Small After folding, Easy to Carry and Store.
- [Perfect Detail Design]: Thickened PVC Cover Has a Longer Service Life.Window with Zipper and Tie,Easy Watering , free Fertilizing, Ventilate or Regulates Temperature. Elastic Steel Hoop,Strong and Sturdy.Fixed method for different scenarios,ground nails or stone.
Isabel is a 33 year old graphic designer. She's the mother of baby boy Max and loves traveling, hiking, cooking and gardening. Have a question? Give a shout!
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How to Choose the Best Greenhouse Kit
You might add other questions to this list. If you have minimal building experience, read a copy of the kit’s manual beforehand to make sure it’s understandable to you. If you’ll be building the kit on weekends, ask whether someone from the company will be available to answer questions on Saturdays and Sundays. You may want to see demonstration photos or videos of the kit’s construction before committing to buy. Tech support may be limited if greenhouse kits are not the company’s specialty but just one of many products it sells.
Most home greenhouse kits have frames made of either wood or aluminum. Wood frames tend to be more aesthetically pleasing but are a bit more difficult to construct. Wood can twist and warp, and wooden greenhouses usually include more parts. Aluminum greenhouses can be fragile or sturdy, depending on the model and the quality. Aluminum lasts virtually forever and is basically maintenance-free. Although generally easier to construct, aluminum frames conduct heat and cold and are a little less energy-efficient than wood.
Using a hoop house frame is another option to explore. A hoop house is a type of greenhouse made from a series of pipe hoops covered with heavy plastic that’s stretched tight and fastened to baseboards. Hoop houses are simple structures to build, and they’re an inexpensive way to control the climate over large areas, but they aren’t as durable as most kit greenhouses.
Glazing Types for Your Greenhouse Kit
“Glazing” is the term for a greenhouse’s exterior covering, such as glass or plastic. There are many variables to consider when selecting the right glazing for your backyard greenhouse kit.
Polycarbonate glazing is the most common type and is sold as either a single corrugated sheet or a multilayered honeycomb panel. Among the multilayered options, twin-wall is frequently used, but triple-wall and five-layered honeycomb panels are also available. Multilayered honeycomb polycarbonate is available in thicknesses from 4 to 16 millimeters. The more layers, the more expensive the glazing — but multiple layers conserve energy better. Multilayer glazings also reduce daytime heat from the summer sun, buffering the interior temperature so you’ll have a greenhouse that’s cooler in summer and warmer in winter. This glazing may be problematic for gardeners in climates with cloudy winters, because multiple layers filter out more light.
Polycarbonate glazing is treated with an exterior coating to filter out ultraviolet light. Because the coating is only applied to one side of the panel, make sure the treated side is facing out during assembly.
Most polycarbonate glazing comes with a 10-year warranty. It’s a tough material that can resist rocks and hailstones — until it gets old. The sun will eventually win and the polycarbonate will have to be replaced.
Polycarbonate is lightweight, meaning the greenhouse frame doesn’t have to be as heavy-duty as with other glazings. Unlike many plastics, polycarbonate is fire-resistant. It is also easy to handle and cut. It does expand and contract with heat and cold, though, and small greenhouses made with this type of glazing need a special mounting bar that helps the structure adjust with temperature fluctuations.
Polyethylene glazing is available as a sheet film, woven sheet plastic or honeycombed material. Woven polyethylene is stronger than film. Polyethylene sheets, whether woven or film, are available with varying warranties for up to five years — the more years, the higher the expense. Polyethylene is still cheaper than polycarbonate, but a single sheet (either film or woven) doesn’t have the insulating value of a multilayer product.
Honeycombed polyethylene, sold as “Solexx,” is a double-layered product that looks similar to polycarbonate but is cheaper and doesn’t transmit as much light. It has a limited 10-year warranty. It’s noticeably softer and less rigid than polycarbonate, and it’s harder to weatherize because the softer edges are more difficult to seal.
Glass has the longest life of all glazings, assuming it doesn’t meet a rock or large hailstone. Difficult to cut and heavier to handle than plastic glazings, glass requires the support of a beefy frame structure because of its weight. Glass is available as a single sheet, as well as double and triple layers with better insulating characteristics. Tempered or laminated glass provides increased strength — essential for overhead applications. The positive aspects of glass include that it’s not combustible, doesn’t scratch easily, and has a low expansion/contraction rate in extreme temperatures.
Window glass is commonly sold as “low-e” (low emissivity), which means it has a surface treatment for energy savings. Plants grow more slowly under low-e glass, so I prefer untreated glass for greenhouse kits. Clear glass creates sharp shadows and doesn’t diffuse much light, which is less optimal for growing plants. Plastics diffuse light better, but the clarity of glass is great if you want to admire the view from inside your backyard greenhouse.
Fiberglass is great for diffusing light, which increases photosynthesis in a greenhouse. Commonly found in many brands and grades, it’s available both corrugated and flat, but only in a single-layer thickness. For that reason, fiberglass is often used in combination with a low-cost, insulating inner layer of polyethylene. Some brands turn yellow more quickly than others do, so that the life span of fiberglass products can vary from three to 20 years. Be wary of fiberglass sold in lumberyards — trust only a written warranty. Fiberglass is relatively strong but can be bent around large-diameter curves, such as hoop house frames. It’s easy to cut and work with, but do wear gloves, because the fibers can irritate your skin. It is highly combustible and has a low expansion/contraction rate.
Greenhouse Kits That Can Weather Storms
Consider the wind when building your own greenhouse from a kit. If you live in a windy area, this not only affects your choice of glazing, but also means you’ll need to take extra care in anchoring your greenhouse to a foundation.
Film glazings, such as polyethylenes, are susceptible to wind damage. Woven polyethylene is sturdier than film, but the best material to use in windy regions is a sheet-like rigid plastic, such as multilayered polycarbonate. Fiberglass is also ideal.
Hoop houses are the greenhouse type most susceptible to wind damage. To combat this, hoop house owners sometimes use a double-inflated polyethylene film. The polyethylene layers are inflated by a small squirrel-cage fan. The inflation produces wind resistance by keeping the glazing rigid. Unfortunately, the power can go out when winds are high. Having a backup power source for the little fan is a good idea, otherwise your hoop house could suffer massive damage in a windstorm.
Be sure to check a greenhouse kit’s snow-load rating if you live in a snowy climate. You may risk greenhouse collapse unless you operate a heater, which will melt snow buildup on the roof.
Fresh Air and Sound Footing
Doors and Vents. Long-lasting, solid doors are important. Hinged doors are of higher quality than sliding ones. Some doors have removable or sliding panels that function as vents.
Most new owners of home greenhouses don’t give enough thought to the importance of ventilation. Overheating can be a major problem, so be sure your greenhouse comes with both low and high vents. The best greenhouse kits include automatic vent openers that are powered solely by the interior temperature. In areas with warmer summers, you should also consider the addition of an electric exhaust fan controlled by a cooling thermostat. It should be placed on the side opposite the door.
Foundations. Most greenhouse kits do not include a foundation. Usually you don’t need much of one, because most manufacturers recommend using rot-resistant, treated timbers in lieu of a concrete or concrete-block foundation. I prefer not to set greenhouse kits on concrete slabs. I like an exposed dirt floor because this setup gives me the option of planting directly into the ground, and it allows excess water to drain into the soil when I’m watering flats of seedlings. If you prefer something more substantial, check your local zoning laws for specific requirements.
If you opt for a simple foundation on timbers, it may take a day or two to build. Producing a level and square foundation requires a lot of fine-tuning, but it’s essential for proper assembly of your greenhouse kit. If your foundation is skewed, nothing will fit right and you’ll be guaranteed headaches.
Gardeners who live in places with severely cold winters should consider adding 2-inch-thick foam board placed vertically against the exterior of their foundations or timbers, 1 to 2 feet down into the ground. The foam board set into the soil prevents the conduction of cold into the interior soil through the ground by tapping into temperatures deeper in the soil (45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit in winter). Even when it’s minus 20 degrees outdoors, the foam will insulate the soil inside your backyard greenhouse.
Ready to Commit
You’ve made a multitude of decisions about your greenhouse kit — site, frame, glazing and more — but you’re not quite finished. Here are a few more tips to consider before you buy and build your own greenhouse.
Make an Offer. Many greenhouse kit retailers have regular sales and may be willing to negotiate the final price, especially if you’re knowledgeable about the competition. Don’t just compare kit prices — also factor shipping costs into your negotiation.
Warranties. The longer the warranty, the better the kit. Check the fine print, because the frame and glazing may have separate warranties.
Custom-Sized Options. Manufacturers may allow customers to order custom-sized greenhouse kits. Most gardeners eventually wish for more space, so purchase the largest greenhouse you can afford for your yard and budget, staying within local regulations.
Delivery. If you live in an area with severe winters, be sure to have the kit delivered during a warm season. Having the company store it for you is better than stashing it outside next to your garage. Wood-frame kits may warp if stored outdoors too long.
Before You Build. Check the kit thoroughly for shipping damage before you begin construction. Set aside some time to study the directions. Many problems people encounter with greenhouse kits are a result of not following the written directions.
Greenhouse Kit Suppliers
Buffalo Junction, Va.; 800-487-8502; kits, accessories and supplies
Surrey, British Columbia; 888-391-4433; glass and polycarbonate kits
Mount Vernon, Wash.; 800-322-4707; large selection of kits and supplies
Dyersville, Iowa; 800-327-6835; kits, irrigation supplies, heaters and lighting
Austin, Texas; 877-760-8500; wide range of designs and sizes from German and Belgian manufacturers
Pagosa Springs, Colo.; 800-753-9333; solar-heated dome greenhouses
Tacoma, Wash.; 800-370-3459; one-piece fiberglass greenhouses
Salem, Ore.; 877-476-5399; home greenhouses and cold frames with polyethylene glazing
Glocester, R.I.; 401-965-0753; geodesic dome greenhouses
Building From Scratch
Check out these suppliers and resources if you’re building from the ground up.
Build It Solar
free online design guides and plans for small greenhouses you can build yourself
Building a Passive Solar Greenhouse
drawing and materials list for a DIY solar-heated greenhouse
Manchester, N.H.; 603-668-8186; glazing, heaters and thermal storage tubes
glazing systems and extensive how-to information
Shane Smith is the author of Greenhouse Gardener’s Companion, which covers all aspects of growing food, flowers and herbs in home greenhouses. Smith is the founder and director of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens in Cheyenne, Wyo. Browse his website Greenhouse Garden.
Originally Published: April/May 2013
Kit amazing greenhouse model
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