Why and how to make a home greenhouse

Crops are dependent on environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and light, being, therefore, vulnerable to adverse meteorological events such as extreme temperatures -both low and high-, heavy rains, strong winds, hail or snow.

Considering these factors, and that conditions also vary seasonally in different latitudes, humans have devised various ways of growing under controlled conditions , one of which is the greenhouse or greenhouse.

What is a greenhouse?

It is a covered and sheltered installation in an artificial way, formed by a structure of resistant materials on which a cover made of transparent materials such as nylon or glass is placed.

The cultivation in greenhouses allows to diversify the food consumed by the family throughout the year, in addition to controlling and reducing water consumption, making better use of space, and facilitating the control of pests and diseases.

Technically, to fulfill its function of protecting crops from adverse weather conditions, the greenhouse should have:

  • A hermetic structure and easy to ventilate.
  • Be built with resistant materials and anchored to the ground.
  • A cover that allows sunlight to pass through.

These conditions are key in obtaining the greenhouse effect, facilitating the accumulation of heat during the day to release it slowly at night.

orchard greenhouse

Conditions for installing a greenhouse at home

Greenhouses can be built anywhere that meets the following characteristics:

  • 5 hours of sunlight a day.
  • Permanent water availability.
  • Protection from prevailing winds.
  • Non-floodable area.
  • Unpolluted soil.
  • Flattened terrain.

Materials for the construction of a greenhouse

The materials needed to build a greenhouse vary depending on the place where you want to install it, the size and the economic budget available for it, but basically you need:

  • Materials for the structure , the most common are wood and metal. Depending on the region, one material or another may be cheaper in the initial investment, but it is important to consider that they require maintenance, depending on the manufacturing treatment and the way in which the work is carried out.
  • Materials for the openings , it is important to consider the functionality of these, both in facilitating access and ventilation, as well as in terms of accessories to guarantee their tightness.
  • Materials for the skirting boards are an element of central importance, as they prevent the passage of the wind and guarantee the tightness and resistance of the construction, which is why they are usually made of rigid materials such as wood, metals, construction material or high resistance plastics. impact.

diy greenhouse

The greenhouse coverage deserves a specific section as it is central in terms of durability and costs. When choosing the material, the most important thing is that it must offer the maximum possible spontaneous greenhouse effect based on two basic characteristics:

  • Maximum transparency to let in short wave sunlight; Y,
  • Maximum capacity to retain thermal or long-wave radiation.

Another basic aspect to consider, both the type of material for the covering and the type of structure, is the convenience to carry out the assembly, maintenance, repairs and replacements when necessary.

In areas with mild winters, plastic takes the lead and can be of different types:

  • Rigid plastics , mostly used in metallic structures, being also the one that is generally used for baseboards, such as polycarbonates, PVCs, polymethyl methacrylate and stratified polyester.
  • Flexible plastics , such as long-lasting polyethylene (PE LDT) in different peepers, which has inhibitors of ultraviolet radiation.
  • Coextruded materials , those that combine a layer of LDT polyethylene with others that give it more flexibility, tear resistance, anti-drip, photoselective properties, etc.

urban garden greenhouse

Home greenhouse in a small space

Along with the above conditions, a fundamental aspect to determine what materials and type of structure to use is the space available throughout the year.

If you have more than 20 m2 and you want to use them for the cultivation of vegetables, medicinal and aromatic, you will not find major inconveniences to obtain plans and technical specifications for productive projects of self-consumption and sale of surpluses.

However, if the space for the garden is only a few meters and you consider the production only for family consumption, or even think about the installation of the greenhouse only to protect some species less resistant to seasonal changes, the alternatives depend a little more of creativity.

Folding greenhouse

A simple idea to protect plants from frost and very cold nights, perfect for mobile pots, is this inexpensive and simple folding model that uses the wall of the house as its main support.

It can be built with PVC pipes, being also light to store in the garage or storage room during spring and summer, but at the same time resistant to the winds. Other materials can also be used, even reusing wood to build the structure and leave it folded on the wall all year long.

The construction of the structure has the shape of a bellows, with 3 structures in the shape of a rectangular arch; one of them is fixed to the wall, another will remain floating on the garden and the third will reach the ground to be fixed to it with a counterweight or stake for greater security against the winds.

A variant of greater resistance consists of fixing the floating arch to the mobile base, although this type of structure would not allow the flexible plastic to be fixed to the structure to open and close automatically, but would only act as a support to manually place the cover. .

greenhouse materials

Greenhouse in micro tunnel

It is a design that contemplates a little more work on the arches structure, but is not limited to having other infrastructures as support.

For the arches, flexible PVC pipes and 3-port elbows are used to join the corners, since a straight pipe is used along the contour of the garden. This leaves a fairly firm structure but, if it were very long orchards, a third pipe could be used glued with contact cement to the upper part of the arches.

This structure takes up quite a bit of space, so it’s important to consider how to store it during the summer when it comes to growing crops in temperate climate locations.

Tunnel-shaped structures can also be permanent, with the arches made of metal and fixed with stakes or cement in the ground, offering the possibility of only incorporating the covering plastic when necessary.

This type of micro tunnel is widely used in different productive ventures, since it represents a lower investment than that of the construction and maintenance of greenhouses on a productive scale. However, it consists of a system that involves more work to guarantee the right temperature through good ventilation.

Mini and micro greenhouses with one and two waters reusing materials

Have you changed the windows? Do you have boxes of CDs and DVDs that you no longer use? There are many materials that can have a second life in the home greenhouse.

With old windows you can create a fixed greenhouse, either gabled, mounting them in the shape of a triangle with a small but resistant lateral structure, or with a drop only to one side, using as vertical support a wall of any other fixed structure.

With CD and DVD cases it takes a little more work and contact cement, but you can create a fairly firm structure to mount to a grow table in small spaces such as balconies and terraces, although you certainly also need flexible plastic for the opening that guarantees side or vertical ventilation.

These are just some of the creative ideas that you can use to set up your own home greenhouse in the space you have, and with the most appropriate materials for your location and budget.


  • “Manual for the construction of greenhouses”, Ing. Agr. Ariel D. Hernández Barreto. Cooperative Center of Uruguay and FAO. 2017.
  • “The horticultural greenhouse, Structure and management of crops”, Nora Fransescangeli and Mariel Mitidieri. San Pedro Agricultural Experiment Station, National Institute of Agricultural Technology (Argentina). 2006
  • “How to Build a Fold-Down Greenhouse”, Bonnie plants
  • “Manual for the construction of microtunnels”, Eduardo Miserendino. Bariloche Rural Extension Agency, National Institute of Agricultural Technology (Argentina). 2011

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