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Having a backyard greenhouse is a dream for many home gardeners. It’s the perfect environment to grow everything from flowers to vegetables, and allows you to extend the growing season to nearly year-round. However, a backyard greenhouse often stays a dream for many homeowners. The cost for a prefabricated greenhouse can be prohibitive and it can have a large footprint, which often leaves many exploring alternatives. These alternatives inevitably lead to the question, ‘Can I build my own greenhouse’? As it turns out, you can absolutely build your own greenhouse, and at PSE Consulting Engineers, we can help. We are experts in greenhouse engineering, and can design the plans you need to build your dream greenhouse. Learn more about what you need to consider when planning to build your own greenhouse below!

Local Codes and Ordinances

Before you buy materials and blueprints, it’s important to make sure you can build a greenhouse at all! Check with your town’s building department to find out if you’re legally allowed to build on your property. Greenhouses are usually considered outbuildings, and typically require a building permit. Furthermore, if you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, you’ll need to get approval before undertaking any building projects. 

Cardinal Orientation

There’s more to a greenhouse than simply building it somewhere. You need to take into account coverage, material, and, most importantly, orientation to the sun. If you want your greenhouse to be able to provide a warm, sunny place to cultivate your garden, it needs to be facing the right way. In The United States, the best direction for your greenhouse to be facing is south or southeast, so it can absorb as much of the early-morning sun as possible. Do your best to find somewhere on your property that will receive at least six hours of sunlight per day. 

Glazing and Glass Options

The quintessential glazing material for a greenhouse is glass, but it’s not without its drawbacks. Glass is fragile, heavy and costly. These characteristics have led many homeowners to glaze their greenhouses with fiberglass, acrylic, polycarbonate, or polyethylene sheeting. These materials are strong, durable and are great insulators, perfect for your DIY greenhouse. 

Frame and Floor Materials

Once you’ve determined the glazing choice, it’s time to move onto the framing and flooring. Traditional greenhouses are made of wood or metal, and each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Wood is less expensive, easier to build with, and works great for smaller greenhouses. Metal is stronger, longer lasting, and more resilient, but is costlier. There are several options for the floor of your greenhouse, including wood, metal grates, gravel, flagstone, poured concrete, bricks, and more. Again, each comes with their own benefits and drawbacks. Gravel can be the easiest to maintain, providing excellent drainage and affordability. Metal grates offer even better drainage, but are expensive. If you intend to use your greenhouse for entertaining in addition to growing things, you may want to consider flagstone or brick to make it look extra special.

If you’re thinking about building your very own greenhouse, PSE Consulting engineers can help. We have years of experience designing greenhouses with a variety of materials, so you can get exactly what you want. Whether you’re building a small, backyard greenhouse or a large, attached greenhouse, we work with you to design the perfect space for you. Contact us today to learn more!