How to Choose the Best Greenhouse Kit

You can build your own greenhouse and bust the winter gardening blues. Our helpful tips will guide you in choosing the best kit to build your own greenhouse.


| April/May 2013




Curved eaves on the author’s first backyard greenhouse shed the snow of many Wyoming winters before being replaced with a more energy-efficient model.


Photo By Shane Smith

People who love gardens also love greenhouses. The best backyard greenhouses feed the need to dirty our fingers while the rest of the garden is dormant. Even a small greenhouse can provide effective season extension by jump-starting seedlings in spring. When managed properly, a greenhouse is a backyard oasis that yields fresh food year-round.

If a lack of construction skills is keeping you from building a greenhouse, consider a kit. The best greenhouse kit is one that fits your needs and your pocketbook. Kits are easier than building from scratch and don’t require as much building experience (although it certainly helps to have a DIY attitude when you set out to build your own greenhouse, even from a kit).

Shopping for Your Best Greenhouse Kit

Local Regulations. Start by researching required permits, zoning, setbacks, underground utilities and other requirements for your area. Some localities demand a certain type of foundation. A greenhouse attached to your home will likely face more stringent requirements than a free-standing greenhouse. In some places, greenhouses are regulated under a “storage shed” designation. Consider size carefully, as you may be able to avoid many regulations by simply settling for a small greenhouse.

Site. Your greenhouse site must have adequate light — six hours of uninterrupted sun on a clear day. You may have to trim or remove a tree to create more light for your chosen location. Also, consider access to water. Is there a nearby hose bib to provide water, even in winter? Some gardeners add gutters and an interior rain barrel to their backyard greenhouses for a winter water source. Electricity can power heating, lighting and ventilation, so keep an accessible power source in mind, too.

Vendors. Check companies carefully — even a small greenhouse is a big investment, and you should feel comfortable with the supplier. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, such as:

• How long has the company been in business?
• How many kits has it sold?
• Does it manufacture the kits or simply resell them?
• How extensive is the warranty?
• What technical help can the company provide?
• How is the greenhouse shipped and packaged?
• What is the cost of shipping?

mikemills82
3/13/2016 12:34:33 AM

I used the plans on WWW.EASYGREENHOUSE.INFO and built my own greenhouse VERY cheap and easily! It was the best decision I've ever made. To my family and I, it just made economic sense to build a DIY greenhouse. We spent a fraction of the cost of buying an expensive pre-built one that just have to be assembled anyway...why pay inflated prices for material? The guide on that website is so very easy to follow and it doesn't matter if you're a total beginner like us. We were on a very small budget and found so many wonderful plans for our greenhouse...it was hard to pick just one, but the one we chose is terrific! We actually built the one that is featured on the website's homepage. I love growing fruits and vegetables for my family all year round! There's no such thing as out of season for us anymore! I finally have the greenhouse of my dreams and it was VERY affordable!


mikemills82
3/13/2016 12:33:40 AM

I used the plans on WWW.EASYGREENHOUSE.INFO and built my own greenhouse VERY cheap and easily! It was the best decision I've ever made. To my family and I, it just made economic sense to build a DIY greenhouse. We spent a fraction of the cost of buying an expensive pre-built one that just have to be assembled anyway...why pay inflated prices for material? The guide on that website is so very easy to follow and it doesn't matter if you're a total beginner like us. We were on a very small budget and found so many wonderful plans for our greenhouse...it was hard to pick just one, but the one we chose is terrific! We actually built the one that is featured on the website's homepage. I love growing fruits and vegetables for my family all year round! There's no such thing as out of season for us anymore! I finally have the greenhouse of my dreams and it was VERY affordable!


rogueron
4/2/2014 1:37:36 PM

Reference the Harbor Freight GH; I do agree the anchoring system is weak so I took additional measures to hold it down. I placed pavers over lapping the footer in the corners and wall middles. I placed the benches and water barrel heat sinks on top of them. I have since built one for our local food bank garden and did the same there. It is more exposed to wind and have had no problems there either. You can't beat the price, especially if you use a discount coupon.


garyr
2/5/2014 12:09:43 PM

Hi, Very nice article -- thanks! I'd add one caution on the wind issue. Not only the foundation needs to be good in windy areas, but the greenhouse itself needs to be up to strong winds. We tried a Harbor Freight GH, and it was fine until the first large windstorm, which converted it into a pile of rubble. The foundation was fine, but the wind just flattened the GH itself. We ended up building a wood frame GH using twinwall glazing, which has done fine. This also allowed us to make it an extended season GH with insulated walls/ceiling on the north, east and west exposures -- we are in a short growing season and cold area. Gary


rogueron
9/7/2013 11:38:51 PM

I do not normally recommend products made in China because of quality issues in the past, but I do recommend the large green house kit offered by Harbor Freight. The parts were all there and fit perfectly. I have used it for a number of years to grow several hundred pounds of food for local food banks and use it for all my starts. You may also be able to use one of their 205 discount coupons.


angkuh
6/10/2013 6:11:14 PM

http://www.geodesicdomehomes.net


angkuh
6/10/2013 6:10:44 PM

I love this article because it is very useful for anyone who read it.

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jan hall
4/9/2013 12:19:40 AM

Never heard of this brand of greenhouse covering before. When I do google it, I don't see any testimonials of actual growers using it. In fact, not much information at all except a testimonial of the person selling it. I wonder why a product would have a 5 year warranty if it last 29 years? I would be very skeptical about this greenhouse material. Google information about the other materials in the article like polycarbonate, Solexx and polyethylene and you can see actual proven track records with much better warranties (on the Solexx and polycarbonate).


clint ellsworth
3/23/2013 7:41:11 PM

Great article!!! Very good information. I am however surprised that Polydress® SolaWrap wasnt mentioned as one of the great greenhouse coverings. From my research I have found that it has better insulation values than twin wall polycarbonate, better light quality than any other covering with 83% transparency and 83% diffusion of light, and has lasted for 29 years on greenhouses in Europe without yellowing or getting brittle.In the Mediterranean they are reporting a three week crop advancement of tomatoes in UNHEATED greenhouses compared to the other coverings! Google SolaWrap.






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