If you live in a temperate climate, a greenhouse can extend your gardening season into the early spring and late fall months. But a traditional greenhouse built of metal and glass panels is expensive. Building your own greenhouse from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe is cheap and has other advantages as well. Your PVC greenhouse can be customised as you see fit; and it is light so it can be easily moved. Lightweight PVC greenhouses, however, don't stand up well to heavy winds; and though they need not be unattractive, they are definitely more functional than aesthetically pleasing.
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Things you need
- PVC tubes
- PVC T-fittings
- PVC X-fittings
- PVC 45-degree elbows
- PVC 90-degree elbows
- Transparent or translucent plastic sheeting
- PVC snap clamps
- PVC cement
- Hacksaw, circular saw or mitre saw
Draw up plans on graph paper or using CAD software. Consider how large you want your greenhouse to be. PVC greenhouses work best if they are under 10 feet for any given dimension. Larger greenhouses require larger pipe and extra reinforcement in the frame. Because PVC under 1 inch can be bent, you can introduce simple curves into your design. Be sure to frame a door in your plan.
Get a rough idea of the size of your greenhouse by cutting the pipes you will use for the base (1 inch or larger) to the rectangular dimensions of your greenhouse. Dry fit the corners with 90-degree elbows.
Add T-supports to your greenhouse approximately every 2 feet to support the walls and roof structure. Cut the long base tubes into sections of this length and insert T-fittings between them with the open fitting pointing up.
Assemble the walls of your greenhouse using T- and X-fittings, friction fitting everything together until it is assembled. PVC is flexible. If your design doesn't create a rigid enough structure for you, add crosspieces by cutting the PVC pipe and inserting T- or X-fittings. Note that every fitting will change the dimensions by a fraction of an inch so you may need to trim pipe to compensate.
Build PVC hinges for the door by gluing together two short sections of slightly larger pieces of PVC. Slide the hinges over one side of the door and use screws to hold them in place.
Glue the PVC into the fittings. PVC glue dries fast so you must get your pieces into place very quickly.
Add the sheeting to your greenhouse, which is much like wrapping a giant Christmas present. Place the sheeting on the ground. Set the frame of your greenhouse down on it so that the sheeting extends halfway under the floor of the greenhouse. Wrap the plastic up over the house down the other side, tucking the end of the sheeting under the other side of the frame. Leave some slack. Attach the sheeting to the frame using snap clamps. On each end, fold the sheeting neatly and attach with snap clamps.
Build the PVC door in place, sliding the hinge side pipe through the hinge in place on the door. Cover the door with plastic sheeting, holding it in place with snap clamps.
Tips and warnings
- PVC sizes vary depending on the greenhouse plan. The larger the PVC pipe, the stiffer and heavier the frame of your greenhouse will be. For a greenhouse no larger than 10 feet for any dimension, 1-inch pipe is rigid enough. For larger greenhouses, use pipe larger than 1 inch.
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