By Michelle Kulas
In 2020, many people discovered (or rediscovered) their green thumbs. Depending on the climate where you live, you might find that a greenhouse allows you to have a much longer growing season than you would otherwise have. A greenhouse keeps plants warm during the cooler season and can also keep plants cool during the hot season.
When looking at different greenhouse designs, it can be difficult to decide whether to order a greenhouse kit, to have one delivered ready to use, or to attempt your own DIY greenhouse. Take a look through these 20 greenhouse ideas to narrow down what you want, then go from there!
Here are some of the most inspiring Greenhouse ideas on this list:
- Storage Shed Greenhouse
- Container Garden Greenhouse
- Herb Greenhouse
- Vegetable Greenhouse
- Sunroom Greenhouse
- Patio Greenhouse
- Indoor Greenhouse
- Luxury Greenhouse
- Portable Greenhouse
- And more!
Storage Shed Greenhouse
Turning your storage shed into a greenhouse can be an inexpensive way of creating a DIY greenhouse in your backyard. You can do this by purchasing greenhouse plans or by simply removing the roof and some of the walls and replacing them with old windows or other glass panels. Make it as simple or fancy as you want and enjoy the benefits for years to come. If you are a beginner, you will enjoy having a frame ready to go so all you need to do is convert the shed rather than start a new greenhouse from scratch.
Container Garden Greenhouse
Planting in a variety of pots, five-gallon buckets, and other receptacles is a great way to combine the ease of container gardening with the convenience of a greenhouse. This is especially helpful if you aren’t sure what you want to plant or if you want some extra versatility in where you place each plant within the greenhouse itself. It also allows you to easily move some plants outdoors after the cold months have passed.
Herbs and spices are the best friends of any chef. Whether you like a few tried-and-true herbs or you prefer to have a wide variety of choices at your disposal come dinnertime, having herbs in your greenhouse allows you to grow these flavor-filled plants any time of the year. Slow-growing herbs such as rosemary do especially well, and quick-growing herbs like basil will give you quick gratification.
Fruit Tree Greenhouse
Unless you live in a tropical or subtropical region, growing your own bananas, mangoes, papayas, and oranges might not have even occurred to you. With a greenhouse that is large enough to accommodate fruit trees, however, you can have a tropical food forest right in your own backyard. In addition to the fruits mentioned, consider planting pineapples in containers and, if you have the space, coconuts way up high!
One of the best categories of food to grow in a greenhouse are veggies, particularly warm-weather plants like tomatoes and hot peppers. Imagine picking your own hot-weather greens (and reds and yellows and purples!) in the spring or fall. If you live in a warm region, a greenhouse can also allow you to plant cool-weather veggies like carrots, cabbage, or broccoli during the hotter times of the year.
If you are more interested in flowers than edibles, an outdoor greenhouse is still a great project for you. Imagine the joy you will feel when you’re surrounded by gorgeous blooms throughout the whole year. There will be no such thing as a barren winter when you fill your greenhouse with flowers of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
If you have a sunroom, there’s no need to build a separate greenhouse at all. Fill the windows with ledges of your favorite plants, from cacti and orchids to herbs, vegetables, and maybe even a lemon or lime tree. You might need to add extra insulation or improve the windows if you have a three-season sunroom, but if you can use it in the winter, it will make a suitable greenhouse.
If you’ve got no room for a full-sized greenhouse, no worries: You can use even the tiniest of mini greenhouses to start seeds or to grow smaller plants. This one pictured is super simple, but you can purchase small greenhouse kits that will allow you to grow plants on an urban balcony or in a yard the size of a postage stamp.
If you have a patio, you’re already halfway to your dream greenhouse. Add glass windows or a glass panel roof and you’re good to go! If you can’t or don’t want to make large renovations to your patio or porch, plastic sheeting will also help shield your tender plants from the cold weather until they grow hardy enough or the weather warms up.
Hydroponic Garden Greenhouse
Have the cleanest greenhouse around thanks to a hydroponic gardening system. A hydroponic system uses water and the nutrients from the plants’ roots to feed and nurture the plants in the system. The warmth and concentrated sunlight from the greenhouse is an added bonus. Many different crops can thrive in a hydroponic system; try a variety of herbs or greens like spinach, lettuce, and kale for fast-growing plants that will give you early success.
Square-Foot Gardening Greenhouse
Square-foot gardening allows you to grow a lot of plants in a small area. When combined with a garden greenhouse, you’ll be amazed at how much food you can produce. The key here is to keep plants close together… but not too close together. Larger plants like tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli need one square foot per plant, but you can group bush beans, peas, and carrots much closer together. Sprawling plants like pumpkins and zucchini need more room.
One of the more popular shapes for a home greenhouse is a tunnel, also sometimes called a high tunnel or a hoop greenhouse. These are often made from steel and covered with polyurethane, providing many of the same benefits as a glass greenhouse. You can make a DIY tunnel or you can purchase greenhouse plans that will show you exactly what to do.
No room outdoors at all? You can set up a tiny (or not so tiny!) terrarium inside your home as a type of indoor greenhouse. All you need is a clear container that is enclosed, some type of soil or nutrients, and a way to get water to your plants. Condensation is one popular way to allow for watering. This one pictured is super tiny, but you can, of course, opt for something larger–just keep in mind your space limitations as well as the needs of whatever it is you want to grow.
If you have the space and the funds, the sky is really the limit when you consider the different types of greenhouses you can purchase or build. If you’re wondering how to build a greenhouse that will make the neighbors green with envy, you will want to opt for a professional to help you. Or, if you’re very handy, you might try your hand at a multi-level greenhouse with gorgeous staircases, a gothic roof, or any other special features that you desire.
Hammock in the Greenhouse
Gardening is a relaxing activity, so it’s natural that you might want to chill out to read or even nap in your greenhouse. Setting up a hammock is a great way to give yourself a place to relax and dream. It will stay nice and toasty warm in the winter (though you might want to add a blanket!), and if you insulate it well, it will even be cool in the summer. Being in your sunny greenhouse will allow you to emerge fully relaxed and ready to take on the pressures of the day.
Warm Winter Greenhouse
Keeping your winter greenhouse nice and warm in the winter will give your plants the best chance at a long life. There are some ways you can heat it cheaply: Add a rabbit hutch, which will provide its own heat. You can also stack hay bales around the edges; these will add some insulation at a low cost, and then you can use the hay bales later on in your outdoor garden. Placing your greenhouse in a sunny spot where it can take advantage of the sun’s rays is another way to heat it up on the cheap.
Cool Summer Greenhouse
Growing plants in a greenhouse in the summer can expose them to temperatures that are too warm if you don’t have the right placement. Unlike your winter greenhouse, your summer greenhouse should be placed in the shade. Make sure it’s well-ventilated; open windows and doors strategically depending on which direction the wind comes from. Finally, wetting down the surfaces will increase humidity and reduce the temperature, so keep your garden hose handy.
If you can keep your greenhouse hot and dry inside, growing cacti is a wonderful way to take advantage of the summer heat. If you are just starting out, consider succulents and smaller plants like aloe. Have more room? A prickly pear or an African milk tree might be just what you’re looking for. You might even consider a queen of the night, which will reward you by blooming late at night once or twice per year!
Setting up a portable greenhouse allows you to take advantage of the different types of lighting and sun exposure in various areas of your yard. In the winter, place it right in the sun, and in the summer, pull it into the shade. If you live in a rental home, a portable greenhouse will give you the option of moving your plants with you when you relocate. After all, you don’t want to leave your plants behind!
Give your child the gift of a green thumb by including him or her in your gardening. Set up a corner of the greenhouse just for his or her favorites. Children often enjoy planting veggies that grow quickly, like radishes and green beans. Sunflowers and marigolds are other favorites that little ones tend to like. And their own tomato plant or raspberry bush will also give them something delicious to snack on that they grew with their own two little hands!
Now you have some ideas for your outdoor greenhouse, so you can decide whether to create a homemade greenhouse or purchase one. No matter how you go about it, you’re sure to enjoy cultivating a variety of plants and adding some beauty to your yard. May this growing season bring you joy as well as a bounty of delicious and gorgeous fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs!
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About The Author
Michelle Kulas has been writing professionally since 2008 in a variety of niches. She is a gardener and enjoys spending time with her family and her dog in her sunny Southwest Florida backyard. When she's not writing or in the garden, you can find her cooking or volunteer with foreign exchange students.