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How to Build a Greenhouse (free plans!)

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How to Build a Greenhouse

I have desired my own greenhouse to extend our growing season for quite awhile. My husband did a lot of research and came up with a plan on just how to build a greenhouse that would work on our small homestead.

And those of you who may not know, a greenhouse will extend the growing season because it stays warm inside even during the winter. Now, if you have extreme winters like we do, adding in an outdoor safe heater and grow lights may be beneficial.

This last spring my husband finally listened to all of my hints and started to build my dream greenhouse.

Gosh, I love him.

Ya know, I would have been satisfied with a simple hoop house, but my very loving husband had other ideas.

When he started to research and come up with a plan, he decided to “do it right” as he says. And what this means, I’m not entirely sure. But I do know that he built this thing pretty solid.

And boy, am I glad he did. It is super cute! And it’s built tough which should withstand some of those crazy Nebraska winds.

Completed greenhouse in outdoor garden with trees in background.

Why We Decided to Build a Greenhouse

Not only does this greenhouse make my dreams come true. There is a lot of practicality involved here. Extended growing season, for one!

I’m currently planning out our fall garden with the some of the cold sensitive plants inside. This season, we will have homegrown lettuces and fresh herbs ready just as the weather starts to cool down.

I will no longer need to start all of my seeds in random places throughout the house, seeking out the best lighting and flat surfaces where they are free of toddler curiosity.

We have been on a mission to grow as much of our food as possible and this small greenhouse is perfect for growing plants to help contribute towards this goal.

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Interior of the completed greenhouse.

Free Greenhouse Plan

This greenhouse project wasn’t exactly cheap. We splurged on it because we wanted something that would last for many years to come.

We opted to use Polycarbonate Sheets for our greenhouse. Good call, husband. I love the look!

Our greenhouse isn’t too large, but is the perfect fit for our family’s home garden. And a welcome addition to our other garden plots.

The dimensions are 10′ by  8′ and stands about 8 1/2′ tall.

All in the greenhouse cost was slightly above $750. The most expensive pieces were the plastic sheeting that we chose. But we needed something durable that would withstand the strong winds.

You could save money on using some other greenhouse plastic, but in my opinion you might as well go with the stronger polycarbonate sheets. Because you’ll have to replace it less often and overall it’ll save you some moolah.

Here’s the supplies we used:

Approximate dimensions:

These were 4×4 timber

  • 2 base ends, dimensions 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 96″
  • 2 base sides, dimensions 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 113″

And these were 2×4

  • 2 sole plates ends, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 89″
  • 2 sole plates sides, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 120″
  • 12 wall stud sides, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 57″
  • 1 ridge support, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2, 91″
  • 2 back studs, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2, 76″
  • 2 door frame sides, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 81″
  • 1 cripple stud, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 16″
  • 1 door header, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 32″
  • 2 knee wall caps, 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 120″
  • 1 ridge pole, 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 120″
  • 12 rafters, 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 60″

Two of the vents being built and painted white, being displayed outside before being installed in the greenhouse.

He also made two vents, they were cut to fit inside of the rafters. One on each side and are held up using a metal sheet and pin. I’m sure there’s a technical name for these things, but I’m not exactly sure what.

Approximate dimensions – always take actual length and angle measurements on structure before cutting. There’s a saying and maybe you’ve heard it before. “Measure twice and cut once”.

DIY Greenhouse – Steps

My loving husband decided to build the greenhouse in the shop and move it over to its new location once he finished.

The wall frames of the greenhouse being constructed inside of the shop.

After he measured and cut the pieces, his first step was to build the base and then frame for the wall. Once he built the wall frames, he attached them to the base using those 3″ deck screws.

The greenhouse wall frames and roof frame are constructed and the white screen door has been added to the door frame.

He found an old screen door that my mother in law was no longer using and trimmed the door frame to make it fit. Then he added the rafters.

And because he’s extra sweet, he painted it all white for me. What a guy I have!

Polycarbonate plastic sheeting is being installed on the greenhouse and the frame has been painted white.

Next, he started adding the plastic sheeting, secured with screws. This sheeting came in 8′ pieces so he cut them to size.

He also cut scrap lumber to size and added them between the wall frames for additional stability. (see photo above)

The roof support beam and added extra pieces of small scrap wood for extra support.

To give it a little more stability, he added scrap pieces of wood on the arches in the rafters.

Exterior image of one of the vents opened up.

For the vent, he just measured the space between the rafters and made two of these pieces to fit.

Interior image of the opened vent and support structure.

From the inside, the vents are being supported by this metal sheet and pin so I can easily open and close it to my height preference.

Metal t’s screwed into the bottom frame of the greenhouse and the ground.

He secured the greenhouse in the ground with these metal rods that are welded into t’s, one on each side.

Finished greenhouse outside in the garden with one vent opened on side of roof.

Lastly, he added an 10′ rain cap to the top of the roof to keep the rain out.

You all don’t even know how long I have waited for this greenhouse to arrive in its location so I can use it! If you’re married to a rancher, you’ll understand!

Related: 25 Lessons Learned as a Rancher’s Wife

Between the cows and our extreme weather, this has been many months of me trying to practice patience. And really that looked a little more like nagging on my part.

But it’s here and I love it. 

For the interior of the greenhouse, I am adding some shelving and we are building raised garden beds near the outside.

What Can Be Grown in a Greenhouse?

Oh, boy! The possibilities are really endless. But I will share a few of the things we’ve done that has worked well and some of my favorites.

A greenhouse will get really hot during the summer and especially in warmer climates, so making sure that you have vents and a fan if necessary to ensure the greenhouse is getting adequate ventilation.

Some foods can grow well during those hot months or some should be reserved for the cooler growing months. It’s always best to get familiar with your growing seasons. We are a 5a.

You can also grow year round including the winters. Those with harder winters, can supplement with a proper outdoor safe heating element, such as a heater, grow lights, and heat mats.

Herbs and leafy greens are an excellent choice to grow in the greenhouse especially during the cooler weather.

And tomatoes & peppers are my favorite greenhouse veggies to grow in the greenhouse during the summer months.

Related: What to Grow in a Greenhouse

growing chives in a greenhouse

Best foods to grow in a greenhouse during the cooler months:

Here’s a few links to help get you started…

Herbs 

Onions

Garlic

Broccoli

Cabbage

Cauliflower

Microgreens

Spinach

Swiss chard

More growing greens in a greenhouse tips here.

Best foods to grow in a greenhouse during the warmer months:

Tomatoes

Peppers

Zucchini/Summer Squash

Beans

Cucumbers

Melons

Small beginning squash plant growing in dirt in the garden.

How to Build a Greenhouse

How to Build a Greenhouse

Active Time: 5 hours
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 7 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Estimated Cost: 750

I have desired my own greenhouse to extend our growing season for quite awhile. My husband did a lot of research and came up with a plan on just how to build a greenhouse that would work on our small homestead.

This tutorial comes with printable free greenhouse plans!

Materials

  • (12) 8′ long, 6 mm greenhouse polycarbonate sheets
  • (4) 16′ 2×4
  • (4) 16′ 4×4
  • 3″ deck screws
  • 10′ rain cap
  • APPROXIMATE DIMENSIONS
  • THESE WERE THE 4×4 TIMBER:
  • 2 base ends, dimensions 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 96″
  • 2 base sides, dimensions 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 113″
  • AND THESE WERE THE 2×4 TIMBER:
  • 2 sole plates ends, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 89″
  • 2 sole plates sides, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 120″
  • 12 wall stud sides, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 57″
  • 1 ridge support, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2, 91″
  • 2 back studs, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2, 76″
  • 2 door frame sides, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 81″
  • 1 cripple stud, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 16″
  • 1 door header, dimensions 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 32″
  • 2 knee wall caps, 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 120″
  • 1 ridge pole, 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 120″
  • 12 rafters, 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 60″

Tools

  • A really good drill!
  • And misc other tools as needed

Instructions

  1. Measure and cut your lumber. Approximate dimensions – always take actual length and angle measurements on structure before cutting. There’s a saying and maybe you’ve heard it before. “Measure twice and cut once”.
  2. The first step was to build the base and then frame for the wall.
  3. Once the wall frames were built, we attached them to the base using those 3″ deck screws.
  4. Measure out your door frame. I wanted a screen door on mine, so my husband cut and measured the frame to fit this.
  5. Next, install your rafters.
  6. At this point, if you want yours painted, this is a good place to do that.
  7. Now you can begin to add your plastic sheeting, secured with screws. This sheeting came in 8′ pieces so we cut them to size.
  8. We also cut scrap lumber to size and added them between the wall frames for additional stability. (see photo above)
  9. My husband also added scrap pieces of wood on the arches in the rafters.
  10. For the vent, he just measured the space between the rafters and made two of these pieces to fit.
  11. Lastly, he added an 10′ rain cap to the top of the roof to keep the rain out.
  12. You can also use metal stakes to secure it in the ground.

Notes

Again, I want to stress this. These measurements are approximates. We had to cut some pieces to size as we were building it.

“Measure twice and cut once”.

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Julie

Thursday 5th of March 2020

I was wondering how the roof vents hold up against the rain. I have an old she that I am going to convert into a greenhouse but I am worried about venting the roof bc I don’t want it raining inside- would love to heRe about how your husband made sure that didn’t happen. TU

Mary Woita

Monday 9th of March 2020

They do leak. But only slightly and not enough to cause any sort of issues or concerns for us. Besides, there is a bit of humidity in the greenhouse with the plants. The vents don’t leak a massive amount of water for us to need to go in and prevent it from doing so. Hope this helps! :)

Tam

Sunday 10th of November 2019

I love your greenhouse! Your husband did an awesome job!! Now that you’ve had it awhile, I’d really like to know what you think worked well and what didn’t. What changes would you make now that you’ve used it awhile? Any ‘learned the hard way’ advice you and your husband could offer? I’m building my own, and as a senior woman it’s going to be a big undertaking for me. Thank you!!!

Mary Woita

Tuesday 12th of November 2019

Thank you for the sweet words! Honestly, I have only used the greenhouse for one season. I had a lot of things that prevented me from using it. I was on bed rest with my last pregnancy and we recently built a new home. So we are basically starting all over from scratch. The greenhouse came with us, but I need to get our garden established again at the new place. :)

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Thursday 31st of October 2019

[…] Check out the full plans on: bootsandhooveshomestead.com […]

Mariah

Sunday 21st of July 2019

Green house is very important if you want to have fruits and veggies of different seasons. This green house looks so great. Amazing work done, making a green house would be that easy never thought of that.

Mary Woita

Wednesday 24th of July 2019

Thank you so much! :)

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Tuesday 21st of May 2019

[…] make sure they have a home in our permanent garden design at the new house. And a big part of our greenhouse […]