Ever since I can remember I have had a love for plants and the color green. There is something very comforting and relaxing about caring for plants and potting them up in unique arrangements has become a form of meditation for me. I have always dreamed of having my own little greenhouse heaven or 'jungalow' in the backyard. Last spring I decided it was time to make it happen.
I began researching kits and had actually purchased a Palram greenhouse which turned out to be really flimsy and poorly made. We returned the Palram and decided to undertake a major DIY project. It just so happened that we came across an ad for 6 glass patio sliding doors on a facebook garage sale page while looking for old windows. Priced at $300 I figured this would be a good start on the walls and we would keep looking for more second hand windows to complete it. To our surprise when we went to pick up these glass doors there were 24 individual glass panes and more than enough to build a tiny glass house for me and my plant friends!
We really had no idea what the heck we were doing or how this glass house was going to go together so, we decided to fly by the seat of our pants and just see where it took us. We started by building a base with 4" x 8" skids and fastened them together with lag bolts and corner brackets that my hubby welded up.
Our next move was to build the walls so that each window panel would fit within the studs. This worked out for the most part but the width of our structure wouldn't allow us to fit the patio doors in the center back or front openings. Luckily my father in law had an old PVC window kicking around that fit perfectly in the opening in the back wall. After much discussion as to how we were going to hold the windows in place we decided that we would use 1 x 6 pine boards for the outside trim and a 2" x 2" board on the inside to 'sandwich' the windows in place.
In the photo above you can see how we trimmed out the exterior with stained 1" x 6" pine. This not only acts as a means to hold the patio door panels in place it also ended up looking pretty sharp. We applied silicone to the aluminum frames of the windows and then fit them in between the studs and snug to the 1" x 6" trim boards. We then fastened 2" x 2" pine on the inside of each frame to hold the windows in place and tight to the 1" x 6" boards
We followed the same steps for the roof as we did for the walls. Once we had decided on the proper pitch and fabricated the rafters it was a fairly simple process. We worked from the inside out, starting with the 2" boards fastened to the proper depth on the rafters so that the windows could be saddled in between each rafter and we wouldn't have to contend with the weight of panels while we worked to secure them in place.
Since our gable ends still remained open we found a product called lexan which is much more durable than plexiglass and resists yellowing. Although expensive I believe it was worth the investment and it helped maintain the overall aesthetic I had envisioned. We chose to make the ridge cap movable so that it could be raised or lowered to act as a means of exhausting extra heat during the summer. We used a peg and hole method and the ridge cap can be easily dropped or lifted by one person. I happened to have an old door from an office building kicking around that I had been holding onto for the perfect project. With the addition of some barn door style sliding hardware it sealed the greenhouse off perfectly. Our final steps were to build benches, shelving and to hard wire electrical plugs into the greenhouse so that I can run fans and have lighting when I decide to stay in the greenhouse way past dark.
This project consumed our evenings and much of our weekends for about 6 weeks. Having used up-cycled materials and found items for the bulk of the project I was able to keep the expenses down to about $2200. Although I spent more than I had originally planned to, I believe it was worth every penny. Last summer we had some of the worst wind storms I have ever experienced in Saskatchewan and I never worried for a second that my greenhouse was going to blow away in the wind. Had I stuck with my original plan I am sure the Palram greenhouse would have been destroyed.
Unfortunately the cost to heat the greenhouse through the winter months of 40 below would be astronomical here in Canada. Currently I only plan on using the greenhouse from the end of March thru October but hope to devise a cost effective plan to heat it for year round use in the future. If you happen to have any suggestions on cost effective heating I would greatly appreciate the input! It seems like this winter has been dragging on and on and I cannot wait for warm spring days to get back out in my little jungalow and play in the dirt. I hope my DIY greenhouse has inspired you to take on a project of your own and discover how wonderful and relaxing a green space can be!