Greenhouses extend your growing season and provide controlled climates and soil conditions for plants. The type of plants you want to raise and their size determines the size of your greenhouse. PVC tubing is a lightweight construction choice that makes putting up the greenhouse and disassembling an end for expansion easy. Use a cube design so calculations for expansion are simple. Drape a clear, heavy-duty poly tarp over the PVC frame for thermal protection without much expense.
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Things you need
- PVC cutter, PVC saw or hacksaw
- Tape measure
- 6 3/4-inch 3-way connectors
- 3 3/4-inch 4-way corners
- 2 3/4-inch 4-way crosses
- 6 3/4-inch 45-degree elbows
- 4 3/4-inch T fittings
- 10 pieces 3/4-inch PVC pipe, 3 feet long
- 9 pieces 3/4-inch PVC pipe, 6 feet long
- 6 pieces 3/4-inch PVC pipe, 42 inches long
- 3 pieces 1-inch PVC pipe or PVC snap clamps, 5 feet long
- Clear 14- by 20-foot 14-mil nylon thread-reinforced heavy-duty polypropylene tarp
- Light nylon rope
- Wide, flat workplace
Have 3/4-inch PVC pipe cut at a home improvement store, or cut long pieces to size. You need 105 feet of 3/4-inch PVC pipe for this 6- by 6-foot greenhouse. Cut 1 inch PVC pipe into 3-inch-long pieces, unless using purchased snap clips. Cut the pieces in half to make clips. Five feet of 1-inch PVC pipe makes 40 clips.
Lay out the frame bottom pieces. Put a 6-foot piece at either end, and two 3-foot pieces down each side. Connect the 3-foot pieces with T fittings. Put a 3-way corner on each end of these 6-foot sections. Insert two 6-foot PVC pieces into the corner fittings at each end, making a square.
Push a 6-foot upright into each corner fitting and T fitting. You have six uprights. Put a 4-way cross fitting on the centre uprights of the sides. Put 4-way corner fittings on the two back uprights, and T fittings on the front uprights. The "stems" of the tees should point to the greenhouse's back end.
Insert a 6-foot PVC section into the top 4-way corner fittings on the back uprights. Using four 3-foot sections of PVC, join the tops of the sides. You now have a box open at one end.
Put a 45-degree elbow on each fitting on the greenhouse top rails. Push a 42-inch piece of pipe into each elbow. Using a 4-way corner, join the centre two pipe sections. Using 3-way corners, join the front and back sections. Insert a 3-foot piece of PVC between each set of ribs, creating a ridgepole.
Center the 20-foot tarp over the ridgepole. There should be 6 inches on the ground on either side of the greenhouse. Roll the extra material under, and clip it every 12 inches to secure it.
Bring the edges of the tarp together at the back end of the greenhouse. Use the tarp grommets to lace the back together. Roll under the extra material at the bottom, and clip to secure.
Fold the extra material down at the top. Secure with clips along the top of the roof pipes. If grommet spacing allows, lace it to the lower back. Finish pressing clips on every 12 inches along the greenhouse ends and roof line rails to secure the tarp.
Secure only the upper material and one lower side of the front. The other flap is your door. Leave the entire front unsecured (except for clipping the top material along the ridge line) for easier access.
Tips and warnings
- For permanent installation, use PVC glue. For easy disassembly, press fit all sections.
- Online sources for PVC furniture building carry a wide selection of snap fittings, clamps, and clamp grips that make putting PVC frames together easy.
- Tying your greenhouse frame to stakes will help secure it against wind.
- Cutting PVC pipe with a regular handsaw can leave jagged edges that make it hard to use press fittings. Using a wood saw may ruin the blade. Invest in a small PVC saw.
- Cable PVC cutters get extremely hot. Don't touch the cut PVC surface or the cable immediately after a cut.
- Plants may suffer from light deficiency in greenhouses oriented east-west. Orient your greenhouse with the long axis north-south whenever possible.
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