Greenhouses are prized by enthusiastic gardeners. Whether you live in a warm or cold climate, greenhouses have a lot to offer. You might think that living in the warmer climate of Los Angeles makes having a greenhouse unnecessary. But even the most mild parts of Los Angeles county can find advantages in owning a green house if you want to collect some of the more exotic type plants or get involved with propagation. And for the more interior areas, a greenhouse can afford serious protection from extreme temperatures of both hot and cold. Wherever you live in California or even in the rest of the country, building a greenhouse will extend your gardening season and allow you to grow plants you otherwise couldn’t.
Another great way to use a greenhouse is to extend vegetable and fruit growing seasons. You can also use them for growing cut flowers to bring in the house. In a greenhouse you can keep the plants from all that outdoor damage from sunburn, wind, bugs etc. Plus, again, you can cultivate exotic plants that might not do so well outdoors, especially during extreme weather.
You can build your own greenhouse. Always site your greenhouse where it will get plenty of sun. You may have to add shading options if the sun is too strong, but it is harder to compensate for too little light than too much. Also consider other weather issues like the high winds we can experience particularly in the autumn. If you live in a windy area and are not constructing a durable greenhouse make sure your structure is well sheltered or solidly anchored.
Size will be your next consideration. The space you have available and your budget will probably define just what size greenhouse will work best for you. Once you know where you want to build, the size and shape of your greenhouse and the materials you will be using to build it, you can start construction. You can buy kits from the simple to the complicated or find plans for building from scratch in books or on the internet.
Check out the simple directions for building a very basic greenhouse on the Las Pilitas website (links listed below). This structure is made of UV stabilized polyethylene or white woven polyethylene which covers schedule 40 PVC ribs with 2 x 4 wood for foundation and doors. The design is for a semi-circular tunnel-type greenhouse that should withstand plenty of abuse. It is easy to build and a very inexpensive way to have a greenhouse.
There are plenty of easy-to-assemble metal framed, polyethylene covered greenhouses that come in kits. They come with full instructions and should handle a decade of normal Southern California weather including high winds, hot sun and even a bit of rare snow. Not the prettiest structures, they are a very economic way to have a durable and long-lasting structure. Most are a little more sophisticated and firmly attached to the ground than the Las Pilitas design.
Kits can become more expensive and elaborate with more efficient and attractive materials. Glass or thermal panes of various materials can create efficient and handsome greenhouses. There are some excellent greenhouse kit companies like Charley’s Greenhouses and Grower’s supply (listed below). They have a wide range of products and prices as well as good service. Greenhouse kits can range from the hundreds through the thousands of dollars depending on what you want.
Of course, if you really want something special, then build it yourself or have a good contractor do the job. There are simple or impressive plans you can follow. Look on the Internet and check out greenhouse books for ideas.