DIY: How To Build Your Own Greenhouse

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March 27, 2020

So, you want a greenhouse? 

Of course, you do! Who wouldn’t? A greenhouse is an awesome addition to any home gardening repertoire!

Greenhouses pull in the sunlight and trap the heat inside – which your plants, veggies, and herbs, all need to flourish. And that also means you can start planting seeds earlier and keep growing later than all your friends who don’t have greenhouses. 

Also, if you make it a fully enclosed space on all sides, you don’t have to worry about birds and other animals chowing down on your produce before you get a chance to enjoy the fruits of your gardening labors.

Build Your Own Greenhouse

To build a greenhouse, you could construct a simple wooden frame in the shape of a tiny house or shed and then install glass walls and a glass roof. You could also cover the structure with corrugated plastic panels. 

But, if just reading that last paragraph was too much work and putting together IKEA furniture is about as much “construction” as you are comfortable with, here are a few other super simple DIY greenhouse ideas.

Plastic Bins

This one is so simple; you’ll probably be asking yourself why you never thought of it before. What is a greenhouse really, but an enclosed area, a box, made of mostly glass or plastic that allows sunlight to enter and retains the heat while protecting the plants from the wind? 

We all have at least a few of those large, clear plastic bins in the house filled with stuff (children’s toys, Christmas decorations, VHS tapes that we can’t bring ourselves to throw away…). Well, what are those bins if not an enclosed plastic container that will let the sunlight in and trap the heat while keeping the wind off whatever is inside?

It won’t be a vast walk-in greenhouse, but there are some great use-cases for this option. You can use it as a way to get seedlings started. 

There are also versions of this bin greenhouse that use a towel as the cover rather than the included plastic top, as it allows more air circulation and breathability inside the structure. 

And because it is super portable, you can even bring them inside at night if the young seeds are sensitive to the night time cold. Then once the plants are ready to be transplanted in the ground, you can flip the bin over top of them as the roots get established in their new home.

Plastic Bottle Greenhouse IMAGE CREDIT: Facebook

I’ve also seen people use plastic bottles cut in half and placed over the top of individual seedlings, creating a greenhouse for one. Poke a few holes in the bottle, and   you’ve got yourself a little air circulation as well. I’m not sure how well the much thinner plastic of the bottle works as compared to the thicker and more durable bins, but it’s very cheap and easy to test on one plant and see how it works.

Plastic Sheet

While the plastic bin is an already built “structure,” you can also get yourself a plastic sheet and create your own. Now, when it comes to your DIY greenhouse, the type of plastic sheet you will want to get is polycarbonate plastic. This is super-durable, polyethylene plastic that can last up to 4-6 years – maybe more, if you take good care of it.

So, you have the sheet. Now you need to create an enclosed space with it. And that can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be. Use a couple of posts and make a tent-like structure, or use a couple of trees to do the same thing. You can even use the side of your house and attach the sheet to it, then pull it tight away from the house and anchor it to the ground, creating a lean-to-type greenhouse.

PVC Piping is also an excellent product for building the basic structure you want. With the help of a little heat, you can bend PVC pipes and make yourself a cool, tunnel-shaped structure that you can easily drape your plastic sheeting over top of. However, if you don’t even want to try bending them, take parallel pipes across from each other. Have a third pipe going across between them using simple 90-degree elbow sockets, creating a rectangular tunnel as opposed to a curved one.

Maybe you already have a garden with some wiring or a fence around it. In that case, half the work is already done, and you will just need to sheet it around and over.

The Best Part?

The best thing about all these options is that the cost is quite minimal. 

These are great ways to try the whole greenhouse thing. Then, if you want to go bigger and better, you can take that next step in the future.

 

Jesse Singer

Jesse Singer

Jesse grew up obsessed with movies and so it only makes sense that he graduated from McGill University with a degree in Political Science. He then put that degree to good use with a job at a video store. After that he spent months backpacking around Europe - a continent that he has been back to visit many times since. Jesse is super curious and loves to learn and explore new subjects. For the last 15+ years he has been writing online for a number of different sites and publications covering everything from film and television to website reviews, dating and culture, history, news and sports. He’s worn many hats - which is ironic because he actually loves wearing hats and he has many different ones.
Jesse Singer

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22 Comments

  • uganda micro gardening initiative March 12, 2014

    looking at these appropriate technologies, our efforts in Uganda have been inspired even the more. thank you very much for this link.

    • Hello Uganda – We’re glad to hear you found this post useful. Happy Growing 🙂

      • Im in Uganda have you done this here please ge tin touch i woudl like to see 0700195087

        • Hi Iqbal,

          We don’t know of anyone growing in Coke bottles in Uganda. Sorry, but you’ll have to research that on your own.

          If you wanted more information on the outdoor hydroponic bottle farm, everything we know is on this page. The site we found it on has no further details. It looks to be a drip irrigation system. The slanted racks use gravity to move water through the farm. It might be designed to recycle the nutrient solution.

          Try putting that together in a small garden to see how it works. Trial and error, and modification is your best approach.

          Good luck!

  • OMG this was soooo helpful, I have been wanting to start an indoor garden and needed some helpful and creative tips. Now I have container ideas, and watering ideas. THANKS!!!!!

    • Hi Laney –

      I’m glad you found it helpful. Happy growing 🙂

      • hi this is very helpfull…… can u plz tell me what type of plants can i grow in soda bottles …… as my project

        • Hi Jam,

          You will find that you can grow a wide range of garden plants in soda bottles, but approach your crop selection with some common sense. It’s not big enough for everything. Root crops like carrots, radish, and potatoes – it’s way too small. You might try a patio tomato, but a full sized tomato plant probably will suffer in such a small container. Herbs and lettuces, but plants that continue to increase in size long term where you pick the fruit will likely do well for a ‘season’. Like peppers – hot or bell – will probably do well for 6 months and then begin to show signs of not being real happy. The same with cucumbers, but it might be great for green beans – pole or bush. Of course with vines as cucumbers and pole beans are, you need a trellis and a lot more head room for raising the lights if growing indoors.

          One thing to keep in mind about gardening is that experimenting is all part of finding out what you can and cannot do. But those tips should help you start the process 🙂

  • Hydro Farming

    Think that recycling used bottles is reserved for home growing? Not at all. A smart farmer will look for ways to make use of what’s on hand, because new equipment cuts into farm profitability. This setup could be engineered in a greenhouse too for those of us not blessed with living in the tropics, or used just for summer growing. This grower in Portugal has a sizable operation – all based on 2 liter pop bottles and hydroponics.

    CAN YOU PLEASE SEND ME THE DETAILS ON HOW TO BUILD THIS HYDRO FARM USING 2LITRE BOTLLES.(STEP BY STEP DETAILS WITH PICTURES IF POSSIBLE)

  • I want to build a hydro farm same as the that was built bythe grower in Portugal. Please send me the plan.

    • Hi Magkati,

      We hunted down the only ‘plans’ for this hydro farm that are available. Here’s your links:

      Both those sites are in a Spanish dialect, but you can easily translate it to English or another language with Google Translate.

      Good luck with your build!

  • Hi,
    how can i get set up plans for the hydroponic operation in portugal so i can replicate.

    Thank you.

    Delia- Uganda

    • Hello Delia,

      The links with this information was just posted in last week’s comments above. Check out the pages in our response to Makgati right above your comment on this page. We have no other details, but it seems pretty easy to duplicate going by what you see in the images and the information on those two pages.

  • Please Help me for The greenhouse on the roof

    • We’d love to answer you better, but there is nothing about a greenhouse on a roof in this post. All the directions we know to exist are linked to on this page – in the article or in earlier comments.

  • very nice this set up now a days looks very cheap to grow plants

  • TOM MUSOKE May 29, 2015

    Great idea.
    I have been using polythene bags to carry out my indoor farming,which is very expensive both to buy and maintain.But with this great innovation i am going to become a role model in my community.
    TOM
    UGANDA

  • plastic cancer shit.. yum yum.. are u all dumb? i tried to avoid drinking from that, why would i for crist sick grow a food in that? u all wanna die? these bottles are made for one use, any manual damage causes spreading of chemicals in water, now in your soil.. sorry for english, i had to say something, We even had a negative influence of plastic bottle on humans health at school recently! and its high school – nothing special!

    • Hi Sandra,

      Thanks for sharing this info. However, not everything you hear about plastic bottles is true. For anyone interested in growing food in used pop bottles, water bottles, or other plastic beverage bottles… make sure you know what kind of plastic it is. Most drinking bottles today are known as PET bottles, though some countries may not have switched away from plastics that contain BPA. PET bottles are BPA-free, and do not leach cancer-causing chemicals when reused. Here’s the facts from Snopes:

      “Sorting out the various claims made about potential health issues associated with plastic water bottles is a difficult process, both because so many different claims about them are circulated and because the generic term “plastic bottle” can in fact refer to any one of several different types of bottles with distinctly different chemical properties.

      Water, soda, and juice are typically sold in bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET or PETE. These containers are intended to be disposable, single-use bottles, although many consumers wash them and re-use them to hold drinking water or other beverages. Some of the example items reproduced above claim that freezing or re-using PET bottles releases unsafe levels of carcinogens such as “dioxins” or the plastics additive DEHA (diethylhydroxylamine) into whatever liquids they may contain. However, such claims are inaccurate on two counts: DEHA is not used in the manufacture of PET bottles (nor is it created through the breakdown of such bottles), and DEHA is not classified as a human carcinogen”

      Even the American Cancer Society has debunked the claim that PET bottles leach dioxins or other cancer-causing chemicals. Lots more here on Snopes.com

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