Owning a greenhouse has been a dream of mine for many, many years. I researched countless types, styles and manufactures in hopes that one day my dream would come true. I poured over countless brochures and Greenhouse DYI books hoping to make the best decision. After all, this is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity and I wanted to make sure I did it right the first time.
You may be pondering the construction of a greenhouse as well and overwhelmed by the plethora of options. I’ve learned a few things along this journey and couldn’t be more pleased with the results of my beautiful little glass house.
The site was leveled, the foundation and stem walls poured and the interior plumbing and slab completed. The slab was poured only in the center to allow for drainage under the future benches. The exterior walls were then covered with stone and a cast stone cap along the top. The aluminum frame was bolted through the cast stone. This portion of the site work must be completed while you wait for the greenhouse to be manufactured, and it must be completed to the standards outlined by the manufacturer. You want everything to fit together perfectly. Once you order your greenhouse, it typically takes from 3 to 5 months to receive the order. I ordered my greenhouse kit in the fall, expecting a late winter delivery.
The amazing team from Backyard Builders constructed the custom Florian frame in seven days. They worked tirelessly to erect the structure and then placed every heavy pane of glass. (Note: many of these “kits” can be built by the homeowner, but after seeing the instructions and the 84 boxes that were shipped to my home on a semi, I was so grateful that I hired an experienced team.)
I chose to install an exterior evaporative cooler on the West side of my greenhouse. I also added a heater, wet-rated ceiling fan and wet-rated barn lighting. As you can see in the above picture, I tucked the evaporative cooler between two crepe myrtles. They help block the harsh western exposure in the summer, but since they are dormant in the winter, they allow for more sunlight when it’s cold.
Here are a few tips if you are considering the addition of a hobby greenhouse to your backyard:
1.) Determine your budget. (The what you want to spend budget and the absolute not to exceed this amount budget.) Green house kits are available in a variety of price ranges and of course for those that are extremely skilled you can design and build a custom of your own choosing. Just keep in mind that the price of greenhouses can vary as much as the options. I’ve heard of some constructing their greenhouse for as little as a few thousand dollars, but others who have exceeded $150,000.
Remember if your considering a kit that there are a number of additional costs outside of the cost of the kit. For example kits do not include the plumbing, slab or foundational wall construction. They also do not include additional options you might consider like, lighting, fans, heaters, evaporative coolers and benches.
2.) Determine whether you want glass or a polycarbonate or similar material. After years of research, I decided to choose glass. It was a tough decision because I live in Oklahoma and we can have hailstorms. Ultimately, I chose a double-pane glass with a slight UV coating. Again, I live in Oklahoma, we have hot summers and cool winters, the double-pane offered a little better insulation helping maintain cool in the summer and heat in the winter. The UV coating helps block a bit of the rays in the heat of our long summers, and despite a few warnings from others, I haven’t had any issues propagating seeds. (However, I only chose a slight UV coating, stronger UV barriers may in fact inhibit the success of seed propagation.) Outside of function, the appearance of the greenhouse was very important to me. I couldn’t find an option that trumped the long-term beauty of glass.
3.) Determine whether you want an aluminum frame or wood. I chose an aluminum frame with a bronze finish. Aluminum does not rust, making it a great material for a wet environment. It is also available in a number of colors. I absolutely love the look of wood, but a truly weather-resistant wood and glass greenhouse can be very expensive. I received a quote on a 20′ x 12′ custom wood-framed glass greenhouse from a reputable conservatory builder for $125,000. It exceeded my budget and what I really needed to propagate my seeds and protect my tropicals, but it was lovely.
4.) Determine the size. I was told by nearly every greenhouse owner I spoke with to build as big as you can afford and have room for within your yard. They were right. You’ll fill it up.