Friday, October 21, 2011

Every Greenhouse Starts with a Dream

I am embarking on a fabulous adventure.  Every time I think about it, I smile.  I'm finally getting the greenhouse I have wanted for a very long time.

When we moved to our current home, one of the first projects we completed was a small greenhouse.  We built it from a 6X8 cedar greenhouse kit.  The kit came with 2 - 8 foot benches and 2 automatic vent openers; one on the roof and the other on the back wall.  This has been my greenhouse for almost 20 years.  It has held up surprisingly well, though I outgrew it years ago.  The inside framing is still structurally sound, but the outer trim and polycarbonate have both significantly degraded over the years.  Rather than throw it out, we've moved it to a shady location and are going to convert it to a cottage style potting shed.

The basic design of the new greenhouse came from a website that offers free plans (  The clerestory windows and the high sloping roof attracted me to the design.  The primary problem with the design was the size.  I knew I needed a very large greenhouse and the Build Easy plan for an 8X10 foot greenhouse was just too small.  Below is a sample of a build easy greenhouse constructed from the plans as provided on the web.

I wanted to build the biggest greenhouse I could afford, but the second factor in selecting the size was available space.  In order to take advantage of the large slanting roof of the Build Easy plan, it was important to site that side of the building facing to the South.  The perfect site overlooking my vegetable garden would accommodate a 16X24 foot greenhouse.

Did I mention that site was already home to our rather large composting operation?  My husband, bless him, moved all the cinderblocks and compost to a new location so I could have this coveted spot.  The new compost bins were rebuilt bigger and better than before and he got a new tractor out of the deal, so it's all good.

The site of the new greenhouse had to be leveled and prepped for a decomposed granite base.  A box blade tractor attachment was used to assist with grading the site.

The site was measured and partially roped off.  The granite was dumped in place and later spread using the box blade.

Six yards of granite were used on the site to get a depth of 4 inches.

The contractor for the project builds greenhouses, sheds and playscapes.  He really seems to love his work.  I shared with him my vision for the new greenhouse.  I wanted 8 foot side walls and high ceilings, 8 mm twinwall polycarbonate for energy efficiency, and lots of windows including 5 clerestory windows that will open with solar powered vents.

My rough drawing below shows 5 - 4'X2' clerestory windows, 3 - 4'X2' vertical sliders, 3 - 4'X4' fixed pictures windows, and a 6 foot patio door.  The rear of the building (not pictured) includes 3 - 6'X2' vertical sliders for cross-ventilation.  In addition to the windows, the greenhouse will have a 24" exhaust fan, combined with 2 - 20 inch shutters.

So, this is the dream, soon to become reality...


  1. What an exciting project! If you ever want to join the Austin Garden Bloggers Group, let me know.

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