What You Need To Know To Build A Greenhouse

You imagine building a greenhouse because you are an agricultural enthusiast, you want to start a hobby, you find yourself worried about food shortages, or you want to expand your farming business, before putting your money to work, you must think of some requirements needed in order to proceed.

First, you must consider your commitment to this task to not feel your effort in vain, because this will take time to see the expected result and not be discouraged by it.

The advantage of building a greenhouse may stand on producing your own food by your standards and deliver to you and your family the most fresh meal that they could have, or to create the garden of your dreams cultivating your favorite flowers and see how it develop thanks to your diligent nurture.

Therefore, take note about some considerations to start a project of building a greenhouse and avoid throwing money and most important, your time.

According to Fixr steel is the most common material to build a greenhouse because it lasts longer and is stronger. The average cost, measured by linear foot, is between $2.5 and $3.

But it doesn’t end there, Advance Greenhouse recommends the following:

  • Permits – Before you start preparing the ground where you wish to set your greenhouse, get informed on requirements to obtain building permits, depending on the location that you intend to install it. There are also specialized manufacturers that already manage these permits so you don’t need to take care of it.
  • Select Materials – Nowadays you can find pretty much everything you need on the internet, from seeds, soil, hardware, benches, to cover materials and climate systems, but some of them, like tempered glass or steel frames, require a local search in order to get a customized greenhouse to match your needs. You can also find predefined kits for the task, but remember that it has to be adjusted according to their specifications.
  • Warranties – These must be taken into account, either from material as well as manufacturers, don’t hesitate on asking several providers so you can compare which best suits you.
  • And finally, you have to consider the most valuable asset, your time. Think about all the hours you need to spend on thinking requirements, build the greenhouse, condition it, know about the best material and shape of construction, or all details that you need to take into account in order to succeed on your enterprise, therefore hiring specialists can be a most affordable option in order to get what you need.

Once you decide to continue, considering the above points, you should get a little more technical, in order to succeed once you make an effort to invest in this venture.

ReduSystems clarify 5 technical aspects to take into account when you want to start your greenhouse farming journey. It focuses on the environment depending on the location and using the right material for the task.

1. Light: Knowing that light it’s essential in the process for photosynthesis, this will help to set your crops in the right condition for optimal production, but you must be careful, because excess light may burn the plant.

2. Temperature: At high temperature you can see a faster production, but if it’s too hot the plant can dehydrate, therefore, controlling temperature with a cooling and heating system is a must in order to take good care of your crops.

3. Carbon Dioxide: As you know, carbon dioxide is also part of photosynthesis, therefore, if it’s possible, you must control it in order to approach the optimal production conditions.

Now imagine that you have already built your greenhouse, and you install vents in order to cool down your temperature. What you must consider is that when vents are opened, carbon dioxide escapes, avoiding your plants from taking advantage of this basic compound to create photosynthesis.

4. Water: Without water you will not see the result of your work, because simply the plant will die, so it is a must to be able to supply the sufficient amount of water to keep your greenhouse running, then you must consider evaporation. For this task you can create an irrigation system depending on the crops needs.

5. Humidity: Is a must to have control of humidity because, if you have low rates you can dry your crops severely or, on the other hand, if you have high amounts of humidity, plants won’t be able to evaporate enough, and this can slow down its purpose.

This control can be done by setting a hygrometer that can cost you $10 that includes a thermometer. This also opens the possibilities of having different sections according to the type of crops you want to cultivate.

Greenhouse water supply.

Now that you know the conditions to manage a successful greenhouse, let’s talk about water supply. Why?, because water is essential in order to keep your crops properly.

Therefore, here are 4 type of water systems:

  • Manual system: As it’s name claims, you can use a watering can or a hose to keep your plant moist enough, but this task can take quite some time. The advantage of this system is that you can be thorough and watch how each plant is developing. Consider that this type of system is better suited for small greenhouses.
  • Drip irrigation system: According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO), this system increases the production of a crop for each drop of water because it requires small amounts of water and a soaker hose in each plant that can be managed at frequent intervals, so you can be sure your soil will be constantly moist enough. This system is adequate to medium greenhouses.
  • Matting: This system consists of installing trays and covering with plastic in order to constantly maintain the water below the crops, basically we are talking of a hydroponic system. According to The Hydroponics Planet You must consider that the water must be changed every two or three weeks, and also consider evaporation, therefore you will need a lot of water.
  • Mist or spray system: This system can be managed manually or automatic, depending on your budget, because this consists of developing a pipeline arrangement to ensure all your plants will get the necessary amount of water according to the specification of your crop. This system is usually recommended for large greenhouses.

Now you know the most used system in order to supply water that can depend on your time, space and budget. You can start thinking about what type of irrigation system you are going to use and anticipate the frame disposition.

Air Circulation System in a Greenhouse:

You must be thinking, why do I need an Air Circulation System in my greenhouse?

Well, as you can recall, temperature can help increase your crop production, and according to Farm Energy, an Horizontal Air Flow (HAF), can help maintain a difference of a 2°F in all the greenhouse, where it was discovered that at night you could find a 10°F to 15°F changes in temperature, which can allow to low your energy consumption when you install an electric or gas climate controlling system.

You can strategically allocate 4 fan to keep air moving around the greenhouse, where the first one can be placed approximately 13’ from an end wall and the other 3 can be separated 45’ in order to maintain the air circulating.

Intrinsically this air flow helps to transport the carbon dioxide distributing it evenly in your greenhouse, but for this task there it’s recommended to install a fan with the capacity of two times the floor area.

Don’t forget to establish a proper maintenance protocol in order to keep your fan in good conditions, this will increase the greenhouse efficiency and help make your investment last.

You can also consider installing side ventilation frames that can help reduce your energy consumption or an open-roof structure that can be manually or automatically manipulated.

Some of the advantages, according to Farm Energy, of an open-roof greenhouse are:

  • Hardness of plants during spring when the roof can be opened on nice weather days, you can consider less effort instead of manually moving plants outside in order to get a bit of sunlight.
  • Reduce energy consumption for the irrigation system, allowing natural rainfall to do their job.

Greenhouse frame

Probably you already thought about the shape of your brand new greenhouse, but have you considered that this design decision can affect the development of your crops?

A study conducted by Barragán-Medrano, J.C. et. al. (2019) on different greenhouse tunnel-shape with 1,959 square foot area has discovered that the design, along with different materials used towards framing, affects on how production is modified because of inside climate changes that also have an impact on energy consumption, and therefore your pocket.

In the next figure you will see the different types of shapes that were studied, so you can have a clear idea on your decision towards your greenhouse design.

The greenhouse cover materials studied were:

  • Polycarbonate (PC)
  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • Glass

The conclusions, according to the study were:

  • Covering a greenhouse with (LDPE) consumes 14.5% less energy when you combine an energy and gas climate controlling system.
  • A single tunnel-shaped greenhouse covered with LDPE, PVC and PC reduces, on average, 5% of heating and cooling loads, in comparison with a sawtooth-shaped
  • LDPE is 5% less expensive with an electric control temperature system. But nevertheless, with an energy and gas system, polycarbonate (PC) cover material can be 45% more cost-efficient.

You may think that selecting the benches that you are going to install in order to put your crops is just buying it depending on what you are planning to cultivate, but you must know that there are some things you have to think about.

According to Aaron Chen from C-Mac Industries, you can consider one of this 3 practical type benches that you can choose for your project:

  • Netted benches – These benches have wire tops, where the frame can be made from plastic materials, that can be beneficial to the plant because of good air circulation. Although they are not quite resistant if you are planning to install a sophisticated workstation. The wire is very corrosive and they are not strong enough to put heavy plants on it.
  • Rolling benches – It allows you to move around your crops if there is a need for different positions according to the seasoning or to be protected quickly from drastic climate changes. Also you can change the inner layout of your greenhouse if you have a new idea of crops or simply you like to get some extra space that you didn’t consider the first time.
  • Slatted benches – This is the most traditional type of bench, because it provides a good air circulation drying your plants faster after irrigation that can low your root rot rate.

You can DIY using wood that can be affordable if you select lumber for the task, but you can also choose cypress, redwood or cedar. But you must consider that wood has a short lifespan usage for a bench, because eventually it will decay and crack with the constant watering or sunlight exposure.

Therefore metal benches are ideal for a greenhouse, either for light or heavy plants. They are quite expensive but with a low maintenance cost and a long lasting lifespan. For this task you can use aluminum that is resistant to rust and better for low to mid-weigh plants, or galvanized steel if you are considering heavy plants or large pots. It’s going to be an extra effort for your pocket but think about the benefits of a one-time expenditure.

In order to maximize your investment, a study performed by Dwivedi, Kruger, & Pretorius presents an alternative set up of benches that consist of two upper additional stacks.

The study concluded that this disposition of benches doesn’t make a considerable change in temperature, with an average of 24.5°C on the top shelf compared with an average 25°C for the shelf above. It also has an homogeneous distribution on all the greenhouse.

Although the velocity of the air circulation on the bottom shelf is less than the one above, you can consider planting crops that are more resistant to extreme conditions and require less care like cacti.

It seems like a lot of work and details that have to be covered, but think about how you will be sustainable and be able to delight yourself with the result of your work.

So now you are ready to start your project on a greenhouse, either you can DIY, can buy a prefabricated kit, or you can talk to a professional that can make the work easier.

If you have any doubts about building a greenhouse, have a chat with one of our professionals, they will give the advice you need in order to get the best out of your pocket.


Barragán-Medrano, J.C., Rodríguez-Muñoz, N.A., Najera-Trejo, M.Escobedo-Bretado,J.A., Martin-Domínguez, I.R., Venegas-Reyes, E., Ortega-Ávila,N. (2019). Analysis of a greenhouse thermal performance using dynamic simulations. Acta Universitaria Multidiciplinary Scientific Journal 29. http://doi.org/10.15174/au.2019.2333

Dwivedi, A., Kruger, S., & Pretorius, L. Numerica Iinvestagation of a NATURALLY VENTILATED GREENHOUSE CONTAINING STACKED BENCHES. Retrieve from https://scholar.google.com.mx/scholar?cluster=3258972716643656604&hl=es&as_sdt=0,5&as_vis=1

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