How To Build A DIY Greenhouse
Winter is a very useful season to understand what a greenhouse could do for us in order to keep plants even during the cold season. In fact, putting plants in the house – as it can be along the stairs in the garage or in cellars where there is not much light – does not represent an effective solution as is a greenhouse. Which among other things proves very useful also for other operations. For example, a greenhouse can be used to continue producing vegetables in the winter, to anticipate sowing. To prepare seedlings to be put on the field when temperatures start to get warmer.
Greenhouse: better do it yourself or purchased already made?
Without a doubt, there are many greenhouses already made on the market, but it is still possible to turn to companies that manufacture a greenhouse on-site according to needs, tastes, and personal measures that also adapt to the characteristics of the place. But a cheaper alternative – and one that can also be fun – is to build it yourself. before making this decision it is good to compare the costs between one solution and another, raising that of the DIY greenhouse because you must always take into account various unexpected events, such as breaking the material, or excess material, and so on.
The DIY greenhouse is certainly the simplest solution, with advantages such as:
- Convenience for the construction of the roof. Since you can anchor to the existing one by continuing the same slope as the slope.
- Possibility to use the heat deriving from the domestic wall on which the greenhouse rests.
- Possibility of having a particularly solid hooking surface, given precisely by the wall.
- Savings on the cost of the greenhouse, since there is one less wall to build.
- Possibility of having a door that leads directly to the greenhouse from the house. An option that, among other things, makes the greenhouse a beautiful winter garden.
Like everything, even the DIY greenhouse has its cons: compared to an already manufactured greenhouse it is less bright, given that it rests on a closed, non-transparent wall. In addition, the height is inevitably conditioned by the wall on which it rests. Which must also be on the south side of the building/home in order to remedy the loss of light due to the non-transparent wall above.
Designing a DIY greenhouse
During the design phase, the best solution is to design the greenhouse as large as possible, naturally, within the limits imposed by the wall it will rest on: let’s say that as a reference you can keep a maximum width of 5 meters and a length between 8 and 10. In this way, the greenhouse can also host plants of different sizes, such as large citrus pots, as well as plants that suffer from low temperatures. A large greenhouse allows the plants to be positioned at their best. Without, therefore, having to “crush” the leaves on the external walls. And also remember to calculate the space for a passage that is easy at least one meter!
One of the most important moments in the realization of the greenhouse is the one that sees the design of the draining base. A greenhouse is a place where humidity easily accumulates and therefore must be treated and indeed kept as far as possible with the necessary precautions and the right choices of materials: a concrete or tile floor does not serve to remove it. This is why an effective solution is a gravel crawl space placed on the ground at a thickness of at least 15cm. Which allows the water that falls to the ground to drain into the innermost layers of the base.
It is also advisable to focus on the perimeter foundation of the greenhouse. Which goes from a simple low wall useful to contain the draining base and to fix the entire structure. Up to a wall, even one meter high made either of insulated material or with two layers of divided bricks by an insulating layer that naturally serves to isolate the greenhouse from the external cold . Wall that proves more advantageous also because it serves to protect the greenhouse from knocks and other accidental damages.
The structure of the greenhouse
As for the structure of the greenhouse. It is good that it meets three fundamental points: lightness, robustness, and resistance to temperature changes. Starting from the first point, a good structure is made up of its important elements of galvanized metal: zinc. A material that covers iron, oxidizes and rusts in place of the metal itself which therefore always remains protected from the signs of aging and erosion. Obviously, if you are not brought for carpentry, you can have the iron structure cut to size and assembled by a specialized company. However, for non-metal lovers there are also laminated wood solutions, specially treated to not rot and resist humidity.
Whether they are in wood or metal. The uprights should be preferred with a square section (10x10cm) which allows you to more easily apply the transparent plastic or glass panels. The same attention seen for the load-bearing elements must also be reserved for the joints: let’s remember to check that the plates, screws, and bolts are also made of resistant metal. Furthermore, in order to ensure maximum stability. The plates must be used in all the holes and not in one yes and one no.
Glass or plastic
A typical and, we could say, an iconic element of the greenhouse is certainly its transparent structure, the large windows that serve both to let in light and to retain heat. Glass presents itself as the best material as regards transparency, resistance to opacification and scratches, by insulation (a demonstration of the fact that it is also used in domestic fixtures). However, these properties make it very heavy and practically impossible to repair in the event of a break.
Today, therefore, the solution of sheet polycarbonate. Which is plastic is a widespread solution in greenhouses. A material that combines low price, good transparency, simplicity of processing, and excellent insulation if it is chosen with a double room. There are two types, which differ in their communication or not with the outside:
- Open, if therefore they communicate with the outside world. These sheets fill with dust, dirt, insects, and algae.
- Closed, therefore isolated from the outside and longer-lasting.
The polycarbonate sheets are fixed to the uprights with simple screws and shelters. Which distributes the pressure over a rather large area and makes them more resistant and difficult to tear. The transparent surface must never be an obstacle to the full absorption of light by plants: this is why the transparent panels, both glass, and polycarbonate, must always be cleaned on their internal and external sides. In fact, as happens in car windows, it is easy for a uniform patina to form which reduces its transparency. In cleaning, an excellent solution is to also use a mold disinfectant.
Finally, the coverage. An element that, in reality, is rather simple in a DIY greenhouse leaning against the home wall in this case. In fact, it is simply pitched and without any type of joint. In short, particularly easy to do. The only precaution is to maintain the same slope as the roof of the house, designed specifically to not compensate for the pressure of rain and especially snow (this of course if you live in areas where snow is quite likely). If, on the other hand, the greenhouse is independent. If it does not have a supporting wall, a transparent arched roof can be chosen as a cover, on which the sheets can be evenly folded.
Some further details
The greenhouse is a humid and warm environment ideal for the spread of many diseases that commonly affect houseplants. In a perspective of prevention, therefore, the plants inside the greenhouse must be checked in detail. Looking at their condition, checking for the presence of yellowing or rotting. As well as the presence of parasites on the leaves.
The greenhouse must be ventilated often, albeit quickly so as not to precipitate internal temperatures. This is an operation that serves to reduce humidity and not to create condensation. In this regard, even the watering of plants must be evaluated pot by pot. In order to always keep the soil fresh without stagnation in the saucer.
The greenhouse naturally has an access door. Which must be large and wide to allow easy passage of pots of different sizes and wheelbarrows. A space-saving idea is that of a sliding door with two doors. The door of a greenhouse must also have a lock to be left open and allow easy moving of the plants. As well as an arm that allows it to close automatically when not locked. So that it does not pass the cold if we forget to close it.
Finally, inside the greenhouse must never be missing:
- A water dispenser.
- Power outlets protected from water.
- Neon lighting
- A specific lamp for germination (only if you intend to do early sowing).