Friday, January 30, 2015

Your Greenhouse: DIY or Pre-Fab?

It's a question I had to answer recently: purchase a pre-fab greenhouse like this Groundworks Walk-In greenhouse available at Tractor Supply,
or build my own lean-to style like this:
Maybe you're struggling with the same dilemma.  You want a greenhouse to start those spring and summer seedlings earlier and to protect your plants during the winter, but with limited time and budget which is better?  As you can see from the picture, I chose to build my own.  Why?  Well, the cost and size of both were comparable (both are about 6'x10' and cost $129 and $137 respectively), and the covering material on both can only be trusted to last one year (maybe longer if we're lucky; I had to use cheap 2mil plastic due to budget constraints; there are better, more expensive options), but I chose to build my own because I wanted it attached to one of the windows in my living room.  This benefit gives me passive solar heating on sunny days in both the greenhouse and our own house, venting the extra heat right into my living room.  It also gives me a great view into the greenhouse from the living room and a convenient pass-through window for extremely cold nights when I need to bring my baby seedlings into the house.

Another reason to DIY is the experience you get from building it yourself.  I learned a lot about what works and what doesn't, and since I built it myself, I know how to re-cover it when the plastic sheeting wears out.  I won't have to buy another cover from the manufacturer or try to figure out how to retro-fit my own sheeting onto someone else's design. 

How's the new greenhouse holding up?  So far, so good.  Today we are expecting wind gusts up to 30 mph, and my greenhouse seems to be handling it just fine.  We'll see how long that lasts!

At any rate, whether you build your own greenhouse or buy a pre-fab unit, they certainly make starting and accessing your seedlings much easier.  I'm hooked! 

How did I build it?  Feel free to contact me for more information, or hang on for another blog post in the near future.  I'll let you know!


  1. The lean-to style greenhouse seems like a great idea. It is more compact and you can even attach it at the side of your house. But I have to ask, was the greenhouse durable? It’s good that you found alternatives to build your own greenhouse, but I hope its materials would be able to stand up against harsh weather conditions. Nonetheless, thanks for sharing!

    Refugia Stein @ Container Domes

  2. Abba Patio Walk In Greenhouse from Bizarkdeal

    Arrives in a 62 pound box. Super easy to put together. It really needs two people to assemble in about half an hour, though I think one could pull it off with more time. Installing the cover was the most difficult part, getting all the seams lined up correctly. I added some ground anchors to keep the wind from taking it away.

    - Only tool needed to assemble was a #3 phillips screwdriver
    - Can be easily disassembled and stored in the spring
    - Metal support structure could support some hanging plants
    - Cover plastic seems pretty durable
    - Very roomy inside
    - Plenty of venting for hot days
    - Challenging to get the cover correctly positioned, and if it's off the window velcro is difficult to get lined up to seal.