Step 1: Design and Build your greenhouse

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1.0 What you need

Bills of Materials

The structure
Type References & Dimensions Quantity Unit price Total price
Wooden battens L=2m40 or 2m50, section ~2cmx2cm 11 4.5 € 50 €
Screws 4.5mm x 60mm, for outside use 30 0.20 € 6 €
Geotextile 3 m2 (bottom included),

1.5 m2 (sides only)

2 €/m2 10 €

(?, often sold in larger quantities)

Palette wood 3 palettes 0 0

The cover
Type References & Dimensions Quantity Unit price Total price
Plastic film transparent, U.V. resistant, 200 microns


8 m2 2.20 €/m2 18 €
Hook and loop fastener (Velcro) 20mm wide 15 m 35 € / 25m 21 €
Sewing Thread ? ? ? ?


Wooden battens

To optimise the number of battens that you need, and to minimise the amount of wasted wood, the following dimensions are a good compromise (all dimensions are measured inside the greenhouse, see here): For 2m40 battens: WxDxH = 1.10m x 1.10m x 1.34m. For 2m50 battens: WxDxH = 1.16m x 1.16m x 1.40m. In both cases, you will need 11 battens.


Inside the box, you can either use geotextile or plastic sheets for "drainage" (google). In french, search for "feutre géotextile" and "drainage vertical alvéolé" (example). If the greenhouse will be put on a terrace, a hard surface, or polluted ground, you have to cover the bottom of the box with geotextile that let's the water through. If the greenhouse is put on soil, you only have to protect the sides of the box.

Plastic cover

For the cover, we use transparent, U.V. resistant, 200 microns plastic film. It's not the most beautiful solution but it's the cheapest one. Alternative solutions (glass, transparent polycarbonate, or polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA, or Plexiglass)) are much more expensive.


So far, we've used hook and loop fasteners (velcro) to fix the greenhouse cover. Alternative options are snap fasteners and eyelets (Fr.: oeillet metal) but we haven't tried them, yet.


The structure
  • Paper tape, useful also as an alternative to the clamps
  • Pencil and meter
  • Nail pincers or nail pullers (to remove nails from palette wood)

The cover

1.1 Design your greenhouse

The final result looks something like this

The structure of the greenhouse

The first thing you need to do is to calculate the length of the different elements of your greenhouse, and firstly, the wooden barrens.

The wooden barrens

You need the following elements to build the structure:

List of wooden bars

General Overview

((Insert table with general dimensions))

Use the calculator to adapt the general dimension of the blueprint to suit your needs.

1.2 Build the greenhouse structure

1.2.1 Cut the wooden battens

Mark the different elements prior to cut the wood. Double check before cutting, and try to limit wood waste.

Mark the wooden battens

Use a hand saw or a rotating saw to cut the battens to length. A mitre box is better to make clean cuts when using a hand saw.

Mitre box

Use sandpaper to smooth the edges.

1.2.2 Assemble the battens

Start by assembling each sides and the roof separately.

One side at a time

Use clamps to keep the bars in place while drilling.

A clamp in action

Drill holes before screwing the bars

Drilling before screwing

Try to drill "in parallel" to avoid mistakes and measuring dimensions only once.

Drilling in parallel

Use a right angle when fixing bars at 90°. Tape bars to keep bars in place after angle is mesured.

Right angle in action

Tape on bars

To ease the operation, work on a flat zone.

The "flat" work zone

To assemble the sides together, use some help from someone else.

The final assembly, a team effort

With a little help from a wall

1.2.3 Cut the palette wood

Option 1: Disassemble the palette by using a crowbar, a hammer and/or a nail puller => best solution to limit wood waste

Option 2: Cut the palette woods between the legs => best solution if you're lazy

Option 1: Disassemble
Option 2: Cut

Cut as many panels as needed as width may vary depending on the palette. Length should be around 30 cm, check the up-to-date blueprint above.

Side panels

1.2.4 Assemble the side panels

Put the side panels in place and use tape to keep them in place. Wait after putting the geotextile to drill and screw.

Keep side panels in place with tape

1.2.5 Add the geotextile

Cut the geotextile to dimensions (side-only or with bottom depending of your configuration) and place it inside the side panels. Keep it in place with tape to find the right position.

Cut geotextile

Place geotextile

Take extra-caution with the angles


Fill greenhouse with soil. Fix geotextile and/or wood panels if needed.

The soil keeps panels in place

1.3 Make the greenhouse cover

1.3.1 Draw the shape on the plastic

Use a long ruler to draw the shape on the cover plastic. Respect the dimensions as we don't want any extra material on the greenhouse.

Draw shape on plastic

1.3.2 Cut the plastic

Cut the plastic with scissors.

1.3.3 Sew the velcro

Use a sewing thread not too thick, as it will break in the sewing machine, but strong enough.

Sewing machine

1.3.4 Fix the velcro on the greenhouse

Use staples to fix the velcro.

The velcro

The velcro

1.4 Add the roof

Add the roof after putting the cover on the sides of the greenhouse

The roof

Add the velcro on the roof and cut the cover to make a hinge.