Building a greenhouse for your own personal use is practical in many ways. No more running to the nursery for your plants each year, and you can start seedlings early and grow plants late. You can even consider growing lettuce and have other fresh veggies year round.

A weekend and a bit of planning will get you well on your way to starting and enjoying a greenhouse of your own.

1. Consider Size and Space

If you have a large yard, and big plans for gardening, you can devote more space to it. If you have a small yard, you may want to build a smaller version, using salvaged window panes to start seedlings, or grow some broccoli or lettuce as an unheated cold house in winter.

If this is your first time building a greenhouse, you may be inclined to build a small one; however, smaller greenhouses are more difficult to regulate temperature-wise. The ideal size is 6 feet wide x 12 feet long.

Woman Standing in Greenhouse

2. Location

To maximize the sun, you should choose a southern exposure; if that’s not possible, a western exposure is next best. If it’s close to the back door, you’ll be more inclined to pop out to grab lettuce for a salad when it’s winter. You’ll also want to choose an area of your yard with good drainage. Protect your greenhouse from wind by siting it near a fence or a row of shrubs.

White Greenhouse

3. Kit vs. DIY

The upfront cost of a kit might be more than a do-it-yourself approach, especially if you’ve got scrap wood, PVC pipes, and other materials lying around in your shed, garage or basement; but you may save time and frustration by having it all planned out for you.

Building Greenhouse

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4. Venting and Heating

In order to regulate the temperature, you’ll want to make sure you can vent it to release moisture to prevent plant rot. If you’ve got a mini-greenhouse on the ground, simply raising the cover with a brick or block of wood will suffice; otherwise, you’ll need to think about exhausting with a rooftop vent. If you want to use the greenhouse in a range of temperatures, then use a generator for heating in winter months.

Vented Greenhouse Windows

5. Raise the Roof

If you get snow in the winter, you’ll need a peaked roof so snow doesn’t collect and collapse the roof. If you opt for a domed roof, make sure you have enough pitch so that snow, ice and rain doesn’t collect in one spot.

Greenhouse in Snow

6. Flooring

Simple, gravel flooring has the advantage of being low maintenance with easy drainage, but some people like to use concrete tiles.

Greenhouse Floor

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7. Let the Light In

Materials for the windows, roof and door range from glass, to polycarbonate, to greenhouse-grade plastic sheeting.

Glass is the heaviest and the most expensive of these options. Greenhouse polycarbonate is like plexiglass, and is treated to be resistant to the effects of ultraviolet sunlight, which can degrade it overtime/ While it’s more expensive and more complicated to install than plastic sheeting, it’s longer lasting than plastic sheeting and can stand up to the occasional hail storm.

If you decide to use plastic sheeting, make sure you purchase sheeting manufactured for greenhouses that has UV protection, which will prolong the life of the material. It comes in a variety of thicknesses, so remember that while a thicker material will stand up to the elements better, it will let in less light, so consider the sunlight needs of the plants you’re planning on growing in your greenhouse.

Glass Greenhouse


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