How to Design & Plan a Greenhouse

A greenhouse makes a wonderful backyard hobby or a part-time business. Lots of information is available from the office of your county's agricultural extension agents to construct a greenhouse. Check with local building authorities to find out if building codes apply. Many locales will permit an informal structure to be built. Recycled materials, plastic sheeting and simple construction will work. However, other areas require standard glass greenhouse panels and a design submitted for formal approval. Review plenty of greenhouse design books and visit local greenhouses before beginning the design process.

Measure the yard space to be used, so that plumbing and electrical issues can be addressed. Special permission may be necessary to run water and electricity to the space from another area. Talk with local building authorities and obtain a building permit if necessary. Research types of greenhouses and figure out a basic shape and size.

Decide on basic building materials. Select an all-cedar framework for the skeleton of the greenhouse, for example. Figure costs for high-quality greenhouse glass panels vs. simple corrugated plastic panels. Plan the floor area to be packed dirt with crushed pebbles or mulch. Design the venting and fan systems of the greenhouse, since warm air must be vented to the outside in hot months.

Make a list of plants to be grown in the greenhouse. Decide if a heating system will need to be included. Consider selling some of the plants you grow to the public, if a business is allowed in your neighborhood. If a business is not allowed in the neighborhood, ask local officials if plants can be sold wholesale to retail suppliers. Choose a growing season that will work best for the greenhouse, based on the plants to be grown and the heating or cooling issues involved.

Transfer the greenhouse design to graph paper and plan storage spaces. Sketch the potting benches, storage areas, water supply spigots and front entry doors for the greenhouse. Experiment with various entry covers, such as a small covered porch for the finished greenhouse. Draw the placement of storage cabinets for seeds and small supplies. Sketch spaces for large garbage cans to store potting soil, fertilizer and mulch.

Make room for doing business inside the greenhouse, if selling will take place. Carve out space for a cash register. Leave room at the entry for customers to put their chosen plants. Make this area uncluttered, so that customers can place boxes of plants near the cash register.

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