Why Not Build Your Own Greenhouse

There’s a lot to be said for DIY, especially in an economic climate where people and businesses are struggling. As well as saving money, a DIY greenhouse build is a great way to hone your Do It Youself skills, always handy to have under your belt whatever’s going on in the world. Add the fact that self build hobby greenhouse kits provide the perfect way to grow your own delicious fresh produce and you score a winner on all sorts of counts, from financial to health. And the exercise will do you all manner of good.


Build Your Own Greenhouse

You can buy ready made greenhouse kits that you simply unpack and put together, all very Ikea and usually pretty simple. But you might want to go farther along the environmentally responsible route and use reclaimed and recycled materials to create something unique and rather lovely. Using all sorts of different, non-matching materials might seem a bit crazy but you can always paint the wood and metal elements to create a harmonic whole. And the creative possibilities are endless.

Get the Basics Right – You Need a Perfect Base

Even a small home or commercial greenhouse requires a good, solid base to stand on. You can build your base using old concrete paving slabs, or a bed of concrete set within wooden shuttering. You could even use rock, gravel or crazy paving. The important thing is, it has to be both flat and level. If your base is wonky, your structure will be wonky, which will in turn compromise the rigidity and resilience of your greenhouse. It’s not too bad if you’re building your own homemade greenhouse from recycled materials, but a kit will always demand super-flatness and a good level of accuracy.

DIY greenhouse tips

  • Almost every greenhouse kit comes with toughened or safety glass. Creating your own design with odd materials you find lying around might leave you using traditional glass, the stuff that shatters easily and is dangerous to be around when broken. If you can source used or unwanted toughened or safety glass, you’re on the right track
  • Used UPVC windows are a popular choice, often double glazed and always rugged. You can get used UPVC doors too. Bear in mind you can paint UPVC with water-based eggshell paints if the finish is tatty or they’re different colours
  • A wood recycling warehouse or outlet is your best bet for the wood you need to make the structure, excellent vaue as well as environmentally responsible
  • Design is everything when you’re DIY-ing without a kit or plans to follow. Make sure you’ve figured out every step in advance, and noted down all the necessary measurements. Going through the planning process will let you perfect the plans before you go anywhere near a piece of wood or glass
  • You might be able to buy a used greenhouse to take down and re-assemble. They often come up on Gumtree and Freecycle. If you want to take the second hand route, make careful plans and notes as you dismantle the greenhouse, or at least take a set of detailed photos before you take it down so you can see how to put it back together again! If the owner is going to dismantle it for you, get them to take photos of it in situ for you
  • A really cheap greenhouse is often a nasty one. As a rule you get what you pay for. Making your own from scratch or buying good quality secondhand is usually better than buying a cheap and nasty new greenhouse kit
  • You can buy everything from small greenhouse kits to enormous versions in kit form, ready to assemble
  • Some kit manufacturers offer an erection service, and they’re usually excellent value for money because they guys (and gals) know what they are doing, have done it numerous times before, and take no time doing it
  • If you’re not 100% confident in your DIY skills, either buy the simplest kit on the market or get someone who has the right skills to help you. If you don’t know anyone, find a friend or family member to lend their support – two heads are invariably better than one
  • When you’re building your own from scratch, measure three times and cut once. Then you’ll minimise the chance of mistakes
  • Take care deciding where to site your greenhouse. You need good light. Don’t erect it under trees. Put it somewhere convenient and easy to get to. If you want to grow crops all year, line up the ridge of the structure so it runs east-west to maximise winter light. If you’ll only be using it in summer, line the ridge up north-south so you get sun on every side, and it will also prevent overheating on hot days

Your most important take-aways? One, build a flat, level base. Two, site it properly. Three, plan everything in detail. Four, if you want to use a kit, buy a good quality kit. Happy building!