A greenhouse is one of the most well-known garden structures. Providing shielding from extreme sun, wind, and rain — greenhouses can significantly extend your growing season.
These sunny buildings come in a variety of shapes and sizes too. Heated glass greenhouses can fight against snow and cold in severe climates. Plastic sheeting can help create an impromptu structure to save a raised bed from unexpected frosts. Paneled greenhouses can help maximize or minimize UV rays depending on the material.
Whether looking for a lean-to DIY or a larger farm-scale design, there’s a greenhouse option for just about everyone. Check out some of our favorite designs and styles to help you build a greenhouse of your own.
Glass greenhouses were the only choice prior to 1950, and are still popular today. Glass offers a more permanent and weather-resistant structure, as well as lower relative humidity and less disease. For more information on glass greenhouses, Colorado State University offers an excellent presentation here.
Solar Garden Conservatory
Like a gothic mansion, this conservatory style greenhouse presents an imposing presence. Recommended for the serious grower, these intricately-designed windows add class and elegance to any plant home.
Glass Lean-to Greenhouse
The BuildEazy crew offer both free and $5 plans. This favorite stand alone lean-to design is accompanied by a how-to video.
Glass Greenhouse Video
Ever watched a glass greenhouse being built? This video from YouTube user Torbjorn Ahman shows the steps from start to finish.
Rising Phoenix Sunroom
For those who prefer to keep their plants a little closer, these impressive sunroom plans marry the indoors and out. This model is designed to take advantage of 180-degree views.
If the Rising Phoenix is a little too large, this smaller house extension may be for you. At 120 square feet, this smaller sunroom still has room for plenty of plants no matter what the season.
Upcycling saves both building and environmental costs for any project. Insteading already has dozens of ideas on making greenhouses out of old windows and doors. Here are some additional upcycling ideas to get you thinking.
Railroad Tie Mini Greenhouse
This tiny greenhouse is both easy and inexpensive. Doubling as a raised bed, this planter is filled with topsoil and manure, then covered in plastic sheeting over the wooden frame.
Mobile Home Greenhouse Conversion
This project takes significant work, but the payoff is a truly unique (and portable) greenhouse. Utilizing an old house trailer that would have otherwise gone to waste, this upcycling project discusses many details including material sourcing and choice, building codes, and thinking outside the box for your homesteading projects.
Hay Bale Cold Frame
Using upcycled and biodegradable hay bales, this cold frame incorporates clear plastic or recycled windows. Easily customizable in size, but not recommended for snow.
Discover more ideas for Straw Bale Greenhouses on Insteading.
Plastic Bottle Greenhouse
Whether it’s bottled water or carbonated corn syrup, Americans go through a lot of plastic drink bottles. Save these from the landfill with these impressive greenhouse designs.
DIY Greenhouse Kits
Building a greenhouse can be a time and weather dependent project. If you aren’t able to start from scratch, you can still find many effective and affordable greenhouse kits to meet your planting needs. Check out some of our favorites.
Editor’s Note: Greenhouses made from lightweight materials like aluminum or plastic can blow away in bad storms. Have an anchoring plan in place before you build. Choose an anchoring setup based on your greenhouse type.
Jamaica Cottage Shop Greenhouse
With five windows and a charming cottage design, this greenhouse is both functional and a decorative backyard staple. This kit is also available in plans if you want to build it from scratch.
Large Clear Greenhouse Kit
A powder-coated aluminum frame and polycarbonate Snapglass make this kit lightweight and impact resistant — especially for its size.
Extra Sun Glass Greenhouse
All these extra windows ensure your plants will receive maximum amounts of sun. If you’re on a hill, try this option for amazing 360-degree views.
Mini Lean-to Greenhouse Kit
For those short on space, this mini lean-to combines the convenience of a raised bed with an extended greenhouse growing season.
This walk-in greenhouse structure is meant as a temporary covering to protect your crop from pests and extreme weather. A quick and easy seasonal fix for strawberries, this isn’t intended to protect orchids in winter.
4 Tier Mini Greenhouse
A patio favorite, this tiny greenhouse is for gardeners on a budget. The shelves are easy to assemble and the protective plastic film zips everything together.
UV Hot House Tent
This hot house grow tent provides eight shelves and ample space for all but the most serious gardener. A simple solution for mild climates.
Patio-sized Greenhouse Kit
At 10×20 feet, this walk-in greenhouse is so big it has added windows. If you are looking for a larger kit, this greenhouse is for you.
Portable Backyard Greenhouse
A nice idea for harder to reach growing spaces, this pop-up kit has zippers, windows, and UV protection as well as six different vents for air circulation.
Corrugated Polycarbonate Greenhouse
Polycarbonate is an extremely durable plastic, in fact, you may have heard of it when purchasing impact-resistant safety glasses. Greenhouse experts like Grower’s Supply recommend this material for both its durability and its eco-friendly impact.
Polycarbonate panels are recyclable. They come in multiple colors and strengths, with a UV resistant clear panel being most common in greenhouses.
Currently, polycarbonate is super long lasting, but not recyclable. We hope that as technology advances, new plastic treatments will help create additional environmentally friendly opportunities.
Too often, plastic greenhouses are used in a very non-eco-friendly way—people put them up, find they aren’t durable enough, and end up chucking pounds of plastic into a landfill.
If you go with plastic, find something durable. If you really do want something temporary—say, just a cover to protect against frost—look for recyclable sheeting to reduce waste upon tear down.
Taking advantage of the versatility of corrugated panels, this greenhouse plan uses both metal and polycarbonate panels.
Sunken Greenhouse Video Series
This video series features multiple videos showing every step of this greenhouse build. The sunken technique for greenhouse walls offers thermal insulation with plenty of roof space covered in polycarbonate sheeting. The project is also designed for high wind areas.
Portable Polycarbonate Greenhouse
Robin Builders provides examples of portable pre-assembled greenhouses. These sturdy frames can be moved to multiple different foundations.
Installing Corrugated Panels
If you’re creating your own polycarbonate greenhouse, you’ll need to find an exact fit with plans. When it comes time to attach the panels to the frame, this article by the Natural Handyman can come in—well, handy.
Plastic Panel Greenhouses
Looking more like the corrugated plastic or a cardboard box, this plastic is more durable than polyethylene film but more flexible than corrugated polycarbonate. It can be used in many of the same plans as other plastics but is often used to keep out excessive heat.
Solexx Greenhouse Coverings
Solexx is a well-known brand of polyethylene greenhouse sheeting. The translucent covering offers more even heating and protection against excessive sun not found in other clear greenhouse coverings.
Solex Lean-to Greenhouse
This Lean-to Features Solexx sheeting is described as maintenance-free. While there is a significant amount of project prep, this design is built to last for many years.
Primalite Greenhouse Sheeting
Primalite is the exclusive product of Polygal, offering a UV-resistant clear sheeting recommended for sheds and skylights.
Plastic Sheeting Greenhouse
Polyethylene refers to the plastic sheeting that is used for multiple construction applications, including greenhouses. The plastic is highly weather- and chemical- resistant. This is a lightweight option for hoop or wooden frame greenhouses. The plastic is not biodegradable but can be recycled.
Made from a sturdy wood frame and lightweight plastic sheeting, this greenhouse is both economical and visually stunning.
Garden Bed-Sized Greenhouse
In true DIY fashion, this project helps you design mini-greenhouses to meet your specific garden bed needs. These quick and inexpensive projects look easy to change from year to year.
PVC Hoop Greenhouse
This hoop style greenhouse can be easily expanded. PVC is used for its flexibility and ease of assembly, although certain types of bamboo are flexible and fast-growing wicker might be an idea to substitute a more eco-friendly setup.
Curved Cedar Cloche
Using conifer branches from your backyard, these simple wood and plastic garden cloches will help protect your crops from colder weather.