greenhouse types and structures

Choosing a Greenhouse

Before you decide to erect a greenhouse in your backyard, you should note down a few essential points.

Oh Greenhouse, Where Art Thou? – The Ideal Location

The location of your greenhouse becomes an important factor, because you need to decide how far away from or close to your home you would like your greenhouse to be. Ideally, you should pick a location that provides sufficient sunlight. This means that you should keep it as far as possible from the cover of trees or nearby structures.

This is particularly important during the winter, because the winter sun has a low angle, which causes even short trees and buildings to block it entirely. When this happens, plants receive less sunlight than is necessary for their growth.

Truly Electrifying

Choose a location that provides you with access to electricity. One of the reasons you might need electricity is to help you manage your greenhouse more. You won’t be necessarily using a lot of power (or you actually may not need it at all), but it is handy to have access to electricity. You might require additional cables to bring power to the greenhouse, but ensure you are not building the greenhouse too far from the nearest electrical supply, or you might have to invest in long cables.

If the greenhouse is attached to your home, then it becomes easier for you to run cables into the structure. However, if the greenhouse is located outside, there is the chance that you might need the help of an electrician to help you find the most efficient way to run power to your greenhouse.

Drain the System

You need an area that allows you to construct an efficient drainage system. This is useful for syphoning away excess water. If you are unsure of what criteria satisfies a location that can provide proper drainage, then you should ideally look for level ground. If the location you chose is uneven, then you might have to fill the area to encourage a proper drainage system. Uneven ground can collect water, often attracting insects and certain plant infections.

Designing and Building a Greenhouse

When you have confirmed the location for your greenhouse, then your next step is to design and build it. Before you bring out your hammer and nails, let us consider an important factor; you need to decide what you greenhouse’s dimensions are going to be. Would you like it to be the size of a small shack, or are you planning on creating the greenhouse from Jurassic Park, minus the T-Rex?

Choosing the size of your greenhouse plays an important role in its maintenance. When you have a small greenhouse, your costs are low and you do not require a lot of heat to keep it warm. On the other hand, larger greenhouses give you more space, allowing you to plant a variety of crops.

If you find yourself lost when picking the size of the greenhouse, then consider the type of plants and crops you would like to grow. If you have a lot of plants in your inventory, then perhaps you might need a large space to grow all of them. If you have fewer plants, then you might not require a big greenhouse.

The minimum size that you should ideally consider for a greenhouse is 10 feet by 10 feet. However, you can also consider 8 feet by 6 feet. These size options might provide you with a smaller space, but they have the benefit of being inexpensive. Furthermore, if you are a beginner, then you might want to try using a smaller structure in the beginning. Maintaining plants within a small space is easier and lets you practice your gardening skills properly.

When you have chosen the size of the greenhouse, there are a few options for structure.


If you are planning to locate your greenhouse against your house or a building, then you can create a structure that leans on the wall of the property.

This allows you to use the wall of the building to cover one side of the greenhouse. Additionally, if the wall is made of bricks, then it will generate enough heat to keep the greenhouse warm as well. You can then use wooden beams or rebar to create support mechanisms for the greenhouse.

Quonset Frame

You could also think of building a Quonset frame. These frames are basically domed ceilings on top of the greenhouse that are built using materials such steel or PVC. While quonset frames are not a mandatory inclusion, they have their benefits. For one, they are proven to retain more heat from the sun. I personally recommend avoiding PVC, as it may release estrogenic chemicals that are soluble in water. You should go ahead with low-density polyethylene, a much safer form of plastic.

Remember that you can use inexpensive materials to build the frame as well. However, bear in mind that the cheaper the materials, the less durable the frame might be.

Free Standing

You might be able to guess what I am talking about by reading the title alone. Essentially, free standing greenhouses do not require the support of any other buildings nearby. They are standalone structures that usually stand apart from your home or building.

Free standing greenhouses are used when you have a specific design in mind or when there is not enough sunlight near your home for a lean-to structure.

Other Options

You do not have to limit yourself to a few options. In fact, you could add the frames by yourself depending on the type of greenhouse you want to build, or you could get the assistance of a builder to do the job for you. Unless you are a designer yourself, I recommend that you get help. There are a few reasons for this:

  • You get to save time on your project. The builder will know how to build your greenhouse as fast as possible.
  • You get incredible input. After all, you might be certain of your plans, but what if there was a better way to do it? What if all you required was a simple extension that could save you a lot of money? By using a professional, you get to acquire valuable insights into your greenhouse’s design, location, and other factors, and sometimes even learn how you can effectively maintain it in the long run.
  • This might sound rather farfetched, but you could even save money in certain circumstances. When you set out to build a greenhouse, you could end up creating a structure that might not meet your plans. When that happens, you might have to dismantle what you have built so far. That means you might have to purchase new materials. With a professional designer, your work gets completed smoothly and with minimal mistakes.