Have you already started your spring garden? Getting ahead of the game not only gets you excited for your garden but also ensures you will be fully prepared. And these DIY greenhouses ideas can help you get ready for the delicate new shoots.
Many parts of the country have short growing seasons, so it’s especially critical to have your garden planned early on if you live in one of these areas. If you plan to start your garden from seeds rather than seedlings, be sure you have your seeds ordered. If you don’t know where to get good seeds, check out this list of free gardening catalogs.
Once you have your plan and seeds in hand, it’s best to start your seeds indoors while it is still winter. This allows you to get a jump start on planting and extend your growing season. There are lots of green ways to start your seeds indoors in upcycled containers. Starting seeds indoors also makes a great project to do with kids.
Another great way to extend your gardening season is with a greenhouse. Many pre-fab greenhouses are available. However, the cost can be quite expensive and out of the budget for many people, so most pass on a greenhouse.
But wait, did you know that you could build your very own greenhouse for a fraction of the cost of purchasing one? While that might sound like a daunting task for many, it can be quite simple.
Here are seven DIY greenhouse ideas so you can extend your growing season. These greenhouses are affordable and vary in skill requirements, so there’s something for everyone. We included as many upcycling ideas as possible.
1. Hay Bale Cold Frame
If you lack building skills, then a hay bale cold frame is a great option for you. You can design yours to fit any area or space you have available.
The only supplies you’ll need are hay bales and old windows or clear plastic (and some weight to hold the plastic down if you use it). It’s very affordable to build, and you can take it down easily when you’re done with it, too.
Start by building out the area you want using hay bales as walls. Then, close in the area with clear plastic (fine for spring or fall) or windows (a better choice if you get snow). Check out this cold frame greenhouse tutorial for more information.
2. Raised Bed Cold Frames
If you want something a bit sturdier than a hay bale cold frame, then a raised bed cold frame may be a good choice for you. It has the same benefits as a hay bale cold frame, but it will take a bit more time to construct and won’t be quite as easy to tear down. However, it will be more durable and easier to seal up air leaks if constructed properly.
3. Convertible Hoop House
Building a convertible hoop house is a neat DIY idea for your greenhouse.
One way to make your own convertible hoop house is by using a cattle panel to create a hoop. Get the detailed instructions for building a convertible hoop house at Dave’s Garden.
When you’ve built your hoop house, you can cover it with heavy-duty plastic to create a greenhouse. During the summer, you can remove the plastic and use the structure as a trellis for growing green beans, tomatoes, or other vine plants.
4. Row Cover Hoop House
If making a hoop house from a cattle panel sounds a little too daunting to start with, you might want to try a row cover hoop house first. It’s easier to construct and experiment with but can still give you some great results.
Most row cover hoop houses are made from PVC pipe and plastic or frost blankets. Row cover hoop houses allow you to cover just those crops that need protection from the cold temperatures while allowing crops that thrive in cooler conditions to enjoy that weather. Learn how to build a row cover hoop house at Bonnie Plants.
5. Repurposed Windows Greenhouse
Want to try something a bit larger and more complex? How about a greenhouse made from repurposed windows?
You can usually pick up old windows for a good price. It’s a great way to keep windows from ending up in the landfill and it will also make a great statement piece in your yard. Once you have collected enough of them to make your greenhouse the ideal size for your space, you’ll find it’s quite affordable to build your greenhouse from there.
Check out Green Lever’s guide to making a greenhouse from repurposed windows for more tips on how to bring this DIY idea to life. Instructables’ guide also has great ideas to help you make a greenhouse from old windows.
6. Plastic Bottle Greenhouse
Have a bunch of plastic bottles you can’t recycle? Take your “green” house one step further and build it out of upcycled plastic bottles.
Far too many plastic bottles end up in the trash rather than the recycling bin. Keep them out of the landfill and put them to good use growing food for your family in a plastic bottle greenhouse. It’s a very affordable project to do and the result is a conversation sparker too. Check out how students at Wilmington College built a plastic bottle greenhouse.
7. Pallet Greenhouse
The last of our DIY ideas for building your own greenhouse is a pallet greenhouse. Pallets can be useful in so many DIY projects that we couldn’t leave it out here. You could use pallets in your greenhouse for walls, tables, planters, and more. But you’ll want to confirm that your pallets are safe for your project before you start. Check out these instructions from The Green Lever for making a greenhouse on the cheap using wood pallets as components, or check out the video for an overview.
Feature image courtesy of Gail Langellotto, Flickr. Originally published on February 19, 2016, this article was updated in March 2022.