Have you been dreaming of growing flowers and crops in a greenhouse? We understand – after all, who doesn’t want a place where they can grow flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables all year round?
But before you start building your own green sanctuary, you need to think carefully about the size, location, orientation, and more. If you don’t consider these elements carefully, you might not get the results you want.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about building a greenhouse. We’ll also elaborate on the benefits of owning one.
What is a greenhouse?
A greenhouse is a structure that creates the perfect environment for cultivating plants. When built correctly, it should allow owners to control the temperature, ventilation, humidity, and amount of sunlight within the space.
Types of greenhouses
Greenhouses come in various shapes and styles. Here are some building design types you can choose from:
Free-standing: A free-standing greenhouse is one that’s counted as a separate structure from the main house.
Attached: An attached greenhouse shares one or more walls with the main house or building.
Tabletop/DIY: This small makeshift structure is perfect for growing a small batch of plants.
Benefits of building a greenhouse
Building a greenhouse can be a worthwhile investment. Here are some of the benefits of building one:
Save money on raw ingredients
Growing your own fruits and vegetables may help save money on groceries. Aside from that, you’ll be sure that the food you consume is grown without any harmful pesticides or chemicals.
Better crop yield
Crops that are cultivated in a safe and controlled environment generally grow faster and healthier compared to those that are grown out in the open. Not only does this give you better crop yield, but it also allows you to optimise the resources you use for production (i.e., fertiliser and water).
A greenhouse doesn’t just protect plants from the elements. It also keeps pests like spiders, locusts, and caterpillars at bay.
Additional storage space
Greenhouse building considerations
A greenhouse can give you long-term value if you build it right. Here are some factors to consider when building one:
Before coming up with a building design, you have to think about the location. Check the following:
- Topography: Pick a place with a flat terrain. If your backyard or lawn has several sloping areas, you may need to use a soil leveller to prepare the area for construction.
- Sunlight: A greenhouse needs adequate sunlight, so you have to carefully consider the building’s location and orientation. A skilled building designer should help you get this correctly.
- Climate: Check the local climate if it's appropriate for a greenhouse. If you’re in a stormy or windy area, you need to have a greenhouse with a steady foundation. This will prevent the structure from getting blown away. You may need the assistance of a structural engineer when it comes to this matter.
2. Type of plants
The type of plants you’d like to grow should be taken into account when you’re coming up with a building design. Plants that grow tall will require a higher ceiling height, for example. Meanwhile, plants that require hot and humid conditions will need to be built using materials that are best at retaining heat.
Here are some types of plants you may want to try growing in the future:
- Fast-growing plants (kale, mustard greens, spinach, asparagus) – These plants grow fast and require minimal care.
- Delicate plants (microgreens, salad greens) – These plants require a safe and controlled environment plus enhanced pest control.
- Tropical plants (tomatoes, peppers, and tropical fruits) – These plants are best for greenhouses because they require hot and humid conditions to thrive.
3. Size and shape of the greenhouse
Once you’ve decided on the type of plants you want to grow, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty details of the building design. Consider the following:
In general, you can pick any shape you like based on your personal taste and preferences. However, make sure to pick a shape with taller ceiling heights if you plan to grow taller plants like palm trees. You should also pick roof styles with steeper slopes if you live in an area with heavy snowfall.
Here are some greenhouse shapes to choose from:
- Flat arch
- Ridge and furrow
The more plants you want to grow, the bigger the structure needs to be. It’s best to create a calendar that shows your short-term and long-term planting schedule so that you can figure out how much space you’ll need.
Naturally, larger greenhouses will cost more, but they will also give you ample space for farming and gardening. They can also have enough space for your gardening tools.
To get a clear idea of how much your project will cost, ask Superdraft for a free quote. You can also use our award-winning project consultation and management platform to find the best professionals to work on your project.
Choosing the right materials helps ensure that the structure retains heat and stays sturdy. Here are some of the materials you can choose from:
- Body/framing: The framing can be made from plastic, pretreated wood, aluminium, or stainless steel. The best choice is aluminium because it doesn’t oxidise or rot.
- Doors and windows: Doors and windows need to be well-insulated to prevent heat from escaping. It’s best to pick doors with polycarbonate or glass panels.
- Glass/translucent covering: Walls can be made from fibreglass, plastic sheets, glass, or polycarbonate, though insulated glass is best at retaining heat. As an eco-friendly option, you can also recycle glass from old windows. Check the thickness of the materials and their durability – they should be strong enough to withstand snowfall and storms.
5. Climate control
Once you have figured out the building design, it’s time to think about the systems that will ensure that the greenhouse functions properly, such as:
Ventilation: Adequate ventilation prevents a greenhouse from overheating. So, be sure to incorporate some windows into your building design.
Having good air circulation also ensures that your plants get adequate carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. To help with this, you can install some oscillating fans.
Heating: If you want to cultivate plants even in the colder months, you may need to buy electric or propane heaters. You can also consider adding cold frame boxes, which are covered plant boxes with glass lids. Just be sure to allow enough space for these boxes.
Irrigation: Most people use a hose to water plants, though you can also incorporate a sprinkler, fogging, or drip irrigation system installed.
Supplemental lighting: To ensure that your plants get adequate light regardless of the weather, you need to add supplemental lighting fixtures. Consider using high-pressure sodium lamps or LEDs.
Smart automation systems: If you have extra room in your budget, consider incorporating automated heating, fanning, cooling, and irrigation systems. These will enable the plants to stay healthy with minimal care, even if you are busy with work or are out on vacation.
6. Greenhouse building regulations
Every neighbourhood will have its own regulations on building greenhouses. In some areas, you may not need approval at all.
Still, it’s best to consult your local council. Some of them require you to submit your building plans to ensure that your greenhouse won’t be blocking a neighbour’s view or sunlight, for example. Generally, you will also need zoning and site plan approval.
At Superdraft, we assist our clients in getting council approval. We’ll also help you complete the requirements to get approved.
Start building your own greenhouse now
Having your own greenhouse gives you the freedom to grow crops any time of the year. Not only does it help you have a longer growing season, but it also allows you to enjoy abundant harvests.
If you have enough space in your property for building a greenhouse, Superdraft can help! We can connect you to skilled building designers, draftsmen, and structural engineers who can help you plan out your project. We can also help you manage the entire construction process from start to finish. Sign up for our free platform now!