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Greenhouse 101 | DoItYourself.com

You do not need a greenhouse to the garden, but it is nice to have one for its added benefits: protection from frost, insects and animals looking for a garden food. If you have never considered installing one in your garden, we may be able to change you.

Three basic types

Most greenhouses usually fall into three different categories: sloping, freestanding and gutters connected. For most homeowners, lean and detached greenhouses are the most profitable options due to space constraints. Boys affiliated greenhouses are usually reserved for farms or commercial sites because of their size. Placing the greenhouse is very important to take full advantage of the sun. For this reason, they are best placed on the south side of the house or property where they can get full exposure to the sun.

pop up greenhouse at sunrise

Detached greenhouse

Pop-up Plant House

These types of greenhouses are light and portable and can be easily adjusted to provide temporary protection for tender plants that need more protection during a cold period. They are available in different sizes, even small enough to fit in cramped spaces or in yards where space is high. Finished kits are durable and make assembly easy, but do-it-yourselfers can Jerry rig their own mini plants of different materials at hand. Reusable furniture and recycled materials can also become a greenhouse. Maybe a bathroom renovation made a storefront obsolete? Use it to form the basic frame and attach 60 miles of clear polyethylene plastic to cover and capture the heat. Ta-da!

large greenhouse with plants on a table

Gable roof

This can be one of the more recognizable styles when you think of a greenhouse. They are shaped like mini houses with a steep roof that provides space for gardeners to stand up in. They were once made entirely of glass, but contemporary ones are usually made with more robust materials such as polyethylene or plastic glass, and PVC, aluminum or cedar framing. Finished kits can make assembly easy, and some of them even have automatic valves that open when the temperature reaches a certain point. This is an added bonus to prevent plants from baking inside the structure when the days are unexpectedly warmed up.

Lean-to greenhouse


The solarium or solarium is more than a place for your valuable plants. The properties that enable it to capture heat make it an ideal space to escape adverse winter conditions. For this reason, solariums are often set up to provide not only the plants but also for their caretakers. Much more care is taken with regard to furnishings to provide a comfortable space. Think of it as an oasis to escape the ravages of winter, if not for a brief moment. Conversely, this is a space that can become unbearable in the summer, so it is very important to add ventilation openings, fans for air circulation and a way to cover windows to block heat buildup.

dsmall greenhouse in spring garden

Cold frame

These types of greenhouses are usually small, low to the ground and without a heat source. In general, they are not made with aesthetics in mind. For this reason, they can be easily made with materials at hand, or ones that can be purchased cheaply or for free through websites like Next Door or Craigslist. A few slag blocks and an old window are enough to provide a protective space to start seeds and harden them before planting the starters in the garden. Since cold frames capture heat, it is important to pay attention to tempting hours during the day as many crops have been fried by gardeners who forget to open the top. (We admit we are guilty of this. Oh, horror!)

Whether you are an avid gardener or simply like to dig into the “green art”, you will appreciate getting a quick start to the growing season or expanding your current one with the help of a greenhouse.

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