Greenhouse Re-do

Five years ago I built a little greenhouse outside my basement door and thousands of mostly happy little plants have been grown in it since then.   The chronicle of the project is here.   I had to make it narrow to fit the available space and that has always been a problem, principally because the widest door I could fit into it was 22 inches wide — not good for getting any bulky items in and out of the basement.  Also, I had added a sort of bump-out on the side of it to get more room, which it did, but that bumped up the ugly factor a little more than I could stand. I’m no longer growing flowers for the local farmers’ market, so I don’t need as much room as I did.

The old structure was 5′ x 10′, and by digging some dirt out on one side, I was able to stretch it out to 6.5′ x 10′, and raise the height to almost 9′ at the peak.

new 1053

I was able to re-use the base sides and braces and make longer end pieces.

new 1054

Only five frames this time instead of six.  That gives 30″ OC spacing, compared to 24″ before.  It turns out that snow load is not a big problem because it’s easy to knock the snow off from the inside.  There’s no big buildup.  The sides are also taller.  I was able to salvage the plywood gussets and the two by fours for the roof from the old greenhouse.

new 1056

Frames are up with longitudinal and diagonal braces — screwed to the base and to the house.

new 1057

Showing my $20 storm door from the Habitat For Humanity ReStore.  It’s 36″ wide (yippee) and is a way better door than the one I made for the original house.

new 1060

The old greenhouse shelving used something called metal lath, which I thought would be great because water and dirt would just fall right through.  That was actually a good idea, but the stuff had sharp edges and I poked holes in the bottoms of too many plastic plant trays.  Holes in trays were OK for greenhouse use, but not for in the basement where the seed starting happened.  This time I decided to rip salvaged two by fours into slats and staple those down.  I think I’ll like it better.

new 1061

The right-hand shelf has a little warp, the result of using lumber salvaged from the first greenhouse, but what will that hurt?  Nuttin’, Honey.  I hadn’t noticed it until I looked at this photo.

new 1065

And here it stands.  Along with ten two-by-fours, I did have to buy some new plastic, due to the bigger size and the fact that the old plastic was five years old, one year past its stated lifetime.

A couple of details:

I used aluminum channel and wiggle wire to fasten the plastic to the wall corners and gable ends.

new 1066

To seal the greenhouse to the siding of the house, I put duct tape on the siding and used foam to fill the gaps.  The duct tape was to keep the foam from sticking to the siding.  Someday, I will be moving the greenhouse and I don’t want to have to do a lot of scraping then.

new 1075

Just for fun, I made some comparison pics, the original greenhouse on the left and the new version on the right.

OldNew1OldNew2OldNew3OldNew4OldNew5

As I write this in northern Michigan, we are having a rare sunny November day and the greenhouse thermometer is reading 100 °F.  I wish I could say that will last.

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Comments on: "Greenhouse Re-do" (15)

  1. This is great and simple. I plan on doing something very similar at my house for me and my two little kids.

  2. Linda Lovett said:

    Great job.

  3. Black Raven Creations said:

    Do you think your plan could be altered to become a lean-to greenhouse?? I have a perfect spot behind my garage and I would like a greenhouse attached there. If I can ever talk my husband into building me one!!

    • I think you could do that by building half of each frame and resting the top end against your garage. You probably would want to make the top piece longer than I did. Good luck with getting your husband to do it. I’m sure you can find a way. 🙂

  4. Great job! My climate in southern maine is probably similar to yours….what temps do you get in the winter? Able to winter over any veg or plants? Or just season extending in fall and spring?

    • Thank you, Riley. In the winter, the temps in my greenhouse at night are about the same as outside, so I don’t try to keep anything alive in there. When things warm up in the spring, I move seedlings out of my basement into the greenhouse during the day and back in if the night will be cold. On a sunny day it will be 30 to 40 degrees F warmer in the greenhouse than outside. In the fall, I put a few plants in there, like basil, to help extend the season. The most fun part of having the greenhouse is being out there on a sunny winter day with snow all around and 60 degrees or better inside.

  5. lisa williams said:

    about how much did it cost for the first one this would work for our back door going to the backyard

    • I spent about $280. You could save some money by not using the special aluminum channels and wiggle wire. Strips of wood screwed over the plastic would work just about as well.

  6. andrew mikkelson said:

    did you use a 45 degree angle for your rafter cuts?

    • andrew mikkelson said:

      also how long are your side walls and rafters?

      • The width of the greenhouse is 78″.
        The side wall studs are 72″ long with square saw cuts on both ends.
        The rafters are 48″ long with a 35° saw cut on the end that sits on top of the rafter, and a 55° cut at the peak.

        With these dimensions, the rafter saw cut will be longer than the end of the stud it sits on, but just let it extend inward of the stud and there won’t be any problem. If you specifically want 45° angles at each end of the rafters, make them 55 1/8 ” long.

  7. Hello,

    I’m in the planning stage of building a greenhouse.

    I’ve been considering building one very similar to yours, a 5′ x 10′ however without the A frame. You said you’re in Northern Michigan, well I’m in Sault Ste. Marie so we must have similar snow fall. Do you think a 1 foot pitched roof on a 5 foot wide greenhouse will be adequate to shed the snow?

    Also, on your original greenhouse, can you estimate the weight of the base made from 4 x 4’s and the total weight of the finished greenhouse? We would like the option of moving ours around also.

    Thanks for your help

    • I’m pretty sure that a 1 in 5 pitch wouldn’t shed much snow. Even mine doesn’t really shed the snow without some help. I usually just stand inside and thump the plastic with a broom, and the snow mostly flies or slides off. I really have no idea about the weight — maybe two to three hundred pounds for the whole thing.

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