How to Build a Greenhouse: Step by Step Guide

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To build a greenhouse takes the characteristics and special care, not always possible to obtain in any situation. Decent sized spaces are essential materials for structures and roofs, to artificial lighting, heating, ventilation; all this taking into account the vulnerability of plants to disease and attacks from outside, as well as the conditions to grow well all kinds of plants that we want to insert in the greenhouse. We discover together how to build a greenhouse.

So here’s an overview of structures, sizes, materials and internal systems useful for building a greenhouse at home.

What is a greenhouse and what are its advantages

A greenhouse is an artificially produced to recreate ideal conditions for plant growth, during all seasons of the year. In this regard, the greenhouse has several advantages for growing plants, compared to an apartment or in a garden that is free, because it allows you to:

  • gardening at any time of the year, regardless of weather,
  • have horticultural products even outside the usual season,
  • make cuttings,
  • protect from frost some plants that may suffer.

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Greenhouse operation

The greenhouse is basically a system to capture as much as possible and to hold as long as possible the light and heat of the Sun. Plants in fact use the 5% of solar radiation for the indispensable process of photosynthesis, whereas 95% of this radiation will serve to create the greenhouse effect, that is, to heat the Interior of this environment to keep plants warm.

Heating by radiation is partly limited by energy dispersion, caused for example by low temperature reached in winter or at the speed of the wind. In any case, the greenhouse effect, which is ultimately increasing air temperature because the infrared radiation of the Sun are held and issued by land, artifacts of the greenhouse and cultivation, should be mitigated to prevent the excessive temperature, through aeration periods.

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Types of greenhouses

There are different types of greenhouses according to their architectural characteristics:

  • in “lean”;
    is leaned against a wall of the House, facing Southwest; in this case the wall that is attached to reduce heat losses, making the structure less expensive to heat and even more stable;
  • a “saddle” or cottage
    allows you to let in more light, but is also characterized by significant heat loss; strong winds also can undermine its stability, despite the presence of bracing that stiffen;
  • to “tunnel”
    It is used mostly in the nurseries and is ideal to cover the garden; It is easy to take apart and reassemble; the structure consists of a steel frame made of arches on which is mounted the roof, usually made of polyethylene.

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Size of the greenhouse

One of the most important characteristics that must have a greenhouse the size of it. The width of the corridor must be between 3 and 5 meter, and the length varies between 8 and 10 meters. The height of the greenhouse must be 2.5 or 3 meter on the ridge and 1.8 or 2 meters on the eaves; This is to avoid excessive heat loss and consequent expenditure of energy for heating.

Where to place it

Another important requirement is the location of the greenhouse. There are two possibilities:

  • Leaning against the wall of the House, facing South, to have sufficient light and heat.
  • In the garden but in full sun, away from trees or bushes that could shade it; in this case it is better to the East-West orientation, because in times with less light it receives light from the transparent structure.

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Greenhouse material and weight to be supported

Greenhouse consists of the frame and materials from transparent material that lets light and heat. When designing a greenhouse you have to seriously consider that it will have to support many different weights.:

  • transparent structure load
  • plant weight, fans and lights eventually hung
  • snow loads and wind flow

The materials that can characterize the structure of the greenhouse should be stable, strong, but not bulky and not heavy.

How to build a greenhouse: here are the materials for the structure


Wood is still a popular material for the construction of greenhouses, as in the first greenhouses in history, dating back to 1600. But this is a material, which while costing very little in this case, not perfectly meets the needs of a greenhouse: breaks easily, can change with temperature, requires a lot of maintenance care.


Steel is a material between the best ones to build greenhouses, since, while costing more than wood, is even more resistant against a reduced thickness. The steel also reduces heat loss in junction points. Galvanized steel is also resistant to corrosion.


Aluminum is the strongest material, but also the most expensive.


Iron profiles are economic support, but not very durable and less resistant than steel.


Small greenhouses, the supporting structures may also be coated with plastic.

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Transparent media coverage

The frame supports the transparent structure, the heart of the operation of the greenhouse, which is essential to get the maximum amount of light possible. Transparent frame can be made:

  • simple glass and polished, said reject
  • raw glass, said pickles
  • printed glass
  • hammered glass
  • ribbed glass
  • plastic with rigid sheets, corrugated or smooth: resin, polycarbonate, polyester, fiberglass are among the most widely used plastics.

We examine the characteristics of these materials.


The advantages of glass against a higher cost, are:

  • absolute transparency
  • thermal insulation
  • insensitive to sunlight
  • non-combustibility
  • resistance to moisture and acids

The disadvantages are a burden and a major weakness.

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Plastic materials

Plastics are lighter than glass and then reduce costs even in the supporting structure. The disadvantages of plastics can be attributed to the fact that they are less transparent than glass, that transparency decreases with time, which Raghavan and wear out much more easily.


To attach the panels to the structure you can use seals, joints, shackles and bolts in aluminum, steel or silicone.

Interventions include: equipment and accessories.

For the greenhouse is functional in all respects, provision should be made for a whole host of other interventions:

  • The openings to the outside, they can ensure the right air circulation during hot seasons and avoid internal condensation, first because of environmental changes or parasitic on plants: usually one or two sliding doors easily opened are positioned at the front of the greenhouse (hinged doors take away space); at the top are positioned more Windows can: are easily opened from the inside, but prevent dangerous insects such as aphids, entering the greenhouse.
  • Shade covers, to be withdrawn when not in use, to avoid excessive temperature in summer; plastic blinds or drapes woven materials, from inside are ideal.
  • Water traps, designed for automated irrigation system; or a single internal water supply close to the work surface, to which you can connect a rubber tube rather long to irrigate the whole greenhouse; water outlets are useful not only to the watering of plants, but also cleaning the greenhouse itself (to predict every 6 or 7 months).
  • Fasten shelves to help you make best use of the space and put in more favorable positions plants that require more light, but they are not too heavy.
  • Electrical outlets and artificial lights, neon lights, or specific lamps stimulate the germination of plants and seeds (such as fluorescent lamps, mercury lamps, sodium vapor lamps); the lights are hung inside the greenhouse, on pallets and hallway; electrical outlets must be strategically placed above the Workbench or near ventilation fans (if not enough openings to the outside).
  • The hot air heater: smaller greenhouses it is enough one, usually mounted on a cart to be able to move, with Digital thermostat for temperature regulation; the alternative is the passage of finned tubes fixed under the tables, attached to a boiler; You can also opt for an electric heater.
  • The thermometer is essential to learn about maximum and minimum temperature in different seasons and figuring out if they can damage plants.
  • The propagator, i.e. a structure which serves to accelerate the germination getting heat coming from the bottom.
  • An automatic system of irrigation for the long periods of absence.

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Thermal insulation of the greenhouse

Thermal insulation is essential to ensure the least possible disturbance of heat and energy. The greenhouse you Island to the outside through transparent polyethylene bubble sheets; These must be fixed so that the formation of air pockets between the paper and glass, without seal the openings. The sheets are fixed to horizontal stripes, starting from the highest part of the greenhouse.

Internal layout of the greenhouse

Inside the greenhouse can not miss some essential elements:

  • A central corridor in concrete and clay, not at least 1 meter and a half wide and no more than 180 cm;
  • One or more metal or masonry pallets (wooden are more susceptible to brown rot, fungal diseases and wear);
  • A Workbench, of at least 2 square metres, located usually at either end of the main bed: this area is for the work of planting, potting, transplanting, soil preparation, etc.

The Interior fittings of the greenhouse should be such as to allow a free movement and benefits at work. Cassettes can be placed on tables with vegetables germinating or cuttings of Geraniums in rooting or small outdoor plants in small pots (like citrus, geraniums and Succulents). Under the tables you can insert other crops or you can floor as in the hallway. The plants to be inserted under the tables are those which require little light: maranthe, ferns, orchids, geraniums, bulbs, rhizomes and tubers.

Alternatively under the tables can be placed the bags of topsoil and draining materials which will be used for vases. The wall must be placed in a locker, pesticides, locked and away from children.

The greenhouse in summer

In summer the greenhouse can serve to group the plants when you must be away from home for a long time; in these cases, shade cover and ensure the water with an automated irrigation system.

The greenhouse without greenhouse

In regions where the risk of too rigid climates and frosts is minimal, the greenhouse that serves to protect isn’t even necessary. But we can still use methods to create similar angles, with the same functions: a set of shelves attached to exterior walls, for example, can be an alternative solution. Potted plants, placed above the shelves, will be protected from wind and rain because leaning against the walls, and can take advantage of the heat coming from inside the House. To make the shelves aesthetically attractive in summer and spring you can fill them with plants that fall as bidens, petunia, Villa Mimosa or Ivy.

Mini greenhouses

For balconies and narrow spaces, there are small greenhouses from balcony, usually in painted steel or plastic, coated with UV resistant sheeting with openings with zippers, or polycarbonate. Interior plans may consist of tilting grilles. 640 WA of scythes is an example of a mini greenhouse from balcony.

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