What Are the Best Tips for Building a Greenhouse?

Alex Paul

There a number of considerations when building a greenhouse. Some of the best tips include making sure the greenhouse receives a lot of sunlight, even in the winter, and selecting the best foundation. The type of foundation depends on the size and budget of the greenhouse. Other tips include making sure the space inside the greenhouse is maximized and ensuring it is kept at the correct temperature year-round.

Some greenhouses feature concrete foundations.
Some greenhouses feature concrete foundations.

One of the first decisions when building a greenhouse is the location. It’s important for a greenhouse to receive direct sunlight throughout the day. Experts recommend that the location, if possible, should be directly in sunlight for a minimum of six hours during winter months. Other considerations include locating the greenhouse with easy access to electricity and without exposure to strong winds. Building a greenhouse near a house also makes it easier to access.

The first consideration for greenhouse construction is the location, as they should be built where there is little shade blocking light from entering the structure.
The first consideration for greenhouse construction is the location, as they should be built where there is little shade blocking light from entering the structure.

When building a greenhouse, the type of foundation is important. There are three main types of greenhouse foundation, including concrete slab, concrete wall and treated wood. The best type of foundation depends on a variety of factors, including the size of the greenhouse, where it’s located and the total budget. Treated wood foundations are often the cheapest for smaller greenhouses but may not be the best choice for larger areas.

The structure of the greenhouse is what most people focus on, but maximizing the space inside it is just as essential. Basic items such as work benches, air circulation fans and tables are required in most greenhouses, but other accessories depend on which plants are going to be grown there. Storage space for tools and other gardening items in the greenhouse design is always useful.

Heating or cooling systems may be required when building a greenhouse, depending on the local climate. In cold regions, for example, extra insulation may be needed to help maintain the right temperature. Heating systems, either powered by gas or electricity, can be expensive but are effective at keeping the inside of the greenhouse warm. Greenhouses in hot parts of the world often need cooling systems for the same reason. All greenhouses should be well ventilated.

There are a number of other tips for building a greenhouse. The material used for the structure, for example, should be strong and capable of standing up to the elements. Unless gravel or soil is used for the flooring, a drainage system may be required.

Building a greenhouse will first require making a foundation of gravel.
Building a greenhouse will first require making a foundation of gravel.

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Discussion Comments


Something to keep in mind is that you can really benefit from building a greenhouse against the main house, or even as part of the main house if you can. The greenhouse will provide heat throughout the year and clean air as well as a convenient place for growing kitchen herbs and vegetables. You might be able to get away with water heating there as well.

The house will provide one of the walls for the greenhouse as well as helping to regulate the temperature so that it doesn't get too hot or too cold. It might also be a potential source of grey water for watering plants.

I've seen this kind of design in permaculture books and I've always wanted to try it because it does look like it would be very practical as well as beautiful.


@KoiwiGal - If you are putting in drainage, you also need to be aware that it might provide places for rodents and other pests to get into your greenhouse. One of the great things about growing your plants in a greenhouse is that you can protect them from pests and diseases they might otherwise be exposed to.

One of the worst things is that if one of them is exposed, the rest will very quickly follow since it is a relatively close environment.

So, be careful not to allow a place where pests can get in without your say so. If you haven't really attempted to keep them out anywhere else, this isn't an issue, but if you have, providing a drain pipe might be the rat's key to paradise.


One of the things you really need to bear in mind for a greenhouse is drainage. It's not something people think about when putting it in, particularly if they have a pre-fab greenhouse, because they think if it is laid directly on soil, the water will just soak into the soil.

But, you'll want to be able to let the rain in to water your greenhouse because it's more economical in both time and water conservation. And if you have a clay soil the water might have difficulty absorbing into the substrate, particularly if you have a walkway in the middle that will be casting off the water.

So, if you have a greenhouse like this, you might end up with flooding which can kill your plants and take away valuable nutrients as well.

The solution is to put some way for the water to drain out of the greenhouse. If you look online there are plenty of different methods, so you just have to find one that'll work for you.

It's much better to put it in from the start, as putting it in after the greenhouse has been set can be much more time consuming.

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