Build Your Own Greenhouse

by David Schulze

You can build your own greenhouse. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. PVC pipes from Home Depot along with some plastic work just fine. We did that for years in our own backyard before we got the fancy wooden greenhouse in San Antonio. Now that we have moved to the farm, we have PVC pipe hoop houses and a PVC greenhouse right now. Hopefully, one day, we will have a permanent greenhouse built again but while we are still getting things set up, they are just fine.

This is a high tunnel hoop house that you can get with a government grant if you qualify. The FDA stopped by our farm in 2019 to tell us we could get one. Turns out we did not qualify.

Did you know that you can build your own greenhouse and save a ton of money? You don't have to spend thousands of dollars. You can easily make your own simple greenhouse out of PVC piping. I have made one in almost every place we have lived. Some were large, while others were small. You can design your own and build it, providing your family with healthy, fresh produce year-round!

Above, I am standing outside of one of my greenhouses in my backyard.

There are many ways to extend your growing season. There are cold frames, inside light kits, porch add-ons and so forth. But the one I like best is the outdoor greenhouse. These come in many sizes, types and prices.

Left is a greenhouse I built when we lived in Colorado Springs. This was my first attempt at building a portable greenhouse. I changed it up each spring that we were there and had a lot of fun doing it.

You can build your own PVC and plastic greenhouse. David did this in most of our yards through the years.

What I would like to talk about today is a simple outdoor greenhouse, sometimes referred to as a hoop house. These can be quickly built at a reasonable price. I can put up a 10 foot wide by 50 foot long PVC greenhouse in a day, by myself. With some help, I can do it a lot quicker.

There are two types of hoop houses we can build. One is out of PVC pipe which is quick and economical. The other is out of EMT. It would probably take two days to put up instead of one day since you have to bend the EMT with benders.

This is the first DIY greenhouse that David built. It was in a trailer park in Colorado Springs back in 1992.

This greenhouse is a DIY PVC one in our yard in San Antonio, Texas. We used it for many years.

To build my greenhouse, I will lay down two raised beds first. I built these out of landscape timbers. These seem to be the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to do this. I will make each bed two feet wide by 12 inches high. 12 inches should cover just about anything you are planting in the greenhouse.

Once the raised beds are together, I will start with the actual greenhouse. The raised beds can take me a week to do with moving in the soil. I take a tape measure and mark off every three feet. Once this is done I will attach one end of a twenty foot piece of ¾ inch PVC pipe. I put the end flush with the ground and then attach it with two three inch wood screws. Then I will go to the other side and attach the next one. This part is hard to do if you are by yourself.

After this is done, I will run a piece of pipe down the middle, on top of the PVC arches. This is to help keep the PVC pipe in the right place at the top and to help hold my cover up. I screwed mine in but since I have found a product call a Snap Clamp Cross. These just snap into place to hold my pipe. It looks much better as well and is stronger as you build your own greenhouse.

I will frame in a door at one end and a window at the other end. Once this is done I put my cover on using Snap Clamps and Snap Clamp grips. Here in SA I like to use Typar Xavan.

Below are some photos of the new greenhouse I am building on my deck for potted plants. First I put up the hoop frame out of PVC piping.

Below, I put some shade cloth and Typar Xavan on the greenhouse and then I covered it in plastic today. I used the Tufflite 6 mm and I think it will be good for the mild San Antonio winter. Tufflite works well to build your own greenhouse. This one is not complete. I will be putting up a door and back wall.

I framed in a door at one end and a window at the other end. Once this is done I put my cover on using Snap Clamps and Snap Clamp grips. Here in SA I like to use Typar Xavan. This is a durable fabric that allows for 70% light transmission which is good for my plants in the hot Texas sun. Sometimes I will replace this and use Shade Cloth. There are also Tufflite covers that can be used to build your own greenhouse. These allow for 100% light.

PVC hoop frame on my deck. Building a new greenhouse for potted plants.

I put some shade cloth and Typar Xavan on the greenhouse and then I covered it in plastic today. I used the Tufflite 6mm, and I think it will be good for the mild San Antonio winter.

If I am expecting freezing temperatures, I will use row covers which can protect down to 22 degrees. This all depends on how much I am willing to spend to save my crop.

When direct planting medium to large seeds I like to use the hand held seed sower.

When planting seeds like tomatoes, peppers, herbs and most anything not a root crop I like to use a germination system. I will first off all start my seeds in three inch CowPots. I will use a leak-proof tray and clear dome. I set these units on top of a heating pad. My heating pad is controlled by a temperature controller. I will top this off with a grow light or two.

Once the plants start to grow, I will move them to my seedling growing station. Once the seedlings are five to six inches tall, I will transplant them into 5 inch round CowPots and put them on trays under the grow lights. Here I will keep them until I am ready to transplant out.

This growing system is good for growing lettuce, herbs, and greens inside.

When I know that I am going to be planting a lot of one type of plant, I will use three inch CowPots and use a transplanter to plant them. This will save time and pain on your back as you build your own greenhouse.

Build Your Own Greenhouse or Buy One

Below are some photos of my father's greenhouse. He bought a greenhouse kit and put it together. It is used mostly for keeping Mom's flowers safe in the winter months.

Greenhouse from kit covered in plastic.We do not sell this kit.This is one that my father bought for his yard.

Below are photos of the inside of my father's greenhouse in the Texas Hill Country.

Inside Dad's greenhouse. Growing benches and flowers. There is lots of room.


The other side of Dad's greenhouse inside with lots of flowers.

Here is a close-up of the plastic on Dad's greenhouse.

The plastic on Dad's greenhouse kit. It has a zipper to keep out the cold.

If you don't want to build your own greenhouse, consider purchasing a kit. We do not sell greenhouse kits because we make our own PVC greenhouses. Again, the simplest way to build your own greenhouse is to use PVC pipes from Home Depot and get some good, strong plastic.


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