Monday, May 3, 2010

Building the Greenhouse

From In the Garden

Building a greenhouse is something I never actually thought would come to fruition here but wonders of wonders-there it is! Mr. Fix-it and I happened upon a sales flier for Harbor Freight Tools and they had their 6x8 greenhouse marked down nearly by half. It was a super good Christmas present for me and one I sincerely thank Mr. Fix-it for purchasing and installing. I am thinking I may now be able to get my garage back for my car instead of plants. We shall see as time goes on and how hard it is to heat this greenhouse in the winter.

I am not going into detail on how we installed this greenhouse because if you are thinking of purchasing a greenhouse, any type, you would be wise to check out the blog titled
Building Our Harbor Freight 10' x 12' Greenhouse. This blog provided me innumerable tips to building and operating a greenhouse. Many of the things you need to do to make a greenhouse efficient must be done prior to installing the greenhouse. Things like sealing the greenhouse and reinforcing the greenhouse.

One of the most important tips that I gleaned from this blog was to tape the polycarbonate panels. This plastic is like cardboard in that it is double layered and has air pockets between the layers that are divided. These help give the greenhouse its insulating and magnifying capacity. Well, one problem these panels have is that they tend to be a gathering place for little insects and dirt. These things work their way into the grooves and can discolor a greenhouse. This blog told me of a way to fix that problem. The openings are needed so that condensation can weep from the bottom of the panels, but in order to keep the insects out they must be sealed. Quandary right? Can't seal yet you don't want dirt and bugs in. Enter greenhouse supply stores that actually sell a special kind of tape just for this purpose. It is quite expensive but if it keeps the panels clean I'm all for it. The other three sides of the panel need to be taped too but since the moisture runs down they don't need the special tape on the sides or top (according to the HF Blog). This blog recommended sealing these edges with foil tape; which I did. I tell you Mr. Fix-it spent the whole day setting up the greenhouse and I spent the whole day taping the panels. It took LOTS of work.

I had actually built the base out of bricks I had received from a fellow Freecycler a few years ago. The base was set up for a plastic greenhouse with a bit of room left over. Thank goodness I had used foresight and built the base bigger than that small greenhouse or I might have had to build an entire new base. As it was, I did have to adjust the size to fit the size of the new greenhouse exactly. This meant taking off the pressure treated 4'x4's I had used and making the base a bit narrower and not as long. I switched the pressure treated 4x4s out for cedar that I had stained a dark green. The cedar 4x4s came off from our porch and were just hanging around the garden waiting for the right use. Cedar is better for aluminum frames than pressure treated (not as corrosive) so that is why I switched the 4 x4s out.I did some adjusting of the bricks and made sure everything was square. Square is VERY important for any structure you plan to build.

From In the Garden

Mr. Fix-it took over from this point. It took all day to set up the greenhouse then another few days to seal it properly and reinforce it. I must say we needed a few extra pair of hands to actually set up the greenhouse. The aluminum pieces tend to fall down quite easily. This is not a good thing when they are bolted together because the aluminum may bend. Once you have the entire frame together it is not so bad but be prepared to get some extra help.

There had been a lot of complaining on the Garden Web forums concerning the Harbor Freight Greenhouse instruction manual and quality of the greenhouse itself but other than a few very minor areas Mr. Fix-it put the greenhouse together fairly easily. The door and the vents confused him but once the greenhouse was up it all became clear. We did have to adjust a few things. The clips to hold the panels in place were not provided in a sufficient quantity. I did order some more of them. I also ordered an anchor kit for the foundation. Due to a greenhouse's light weight as compared to the mass they have a tendency to blow away so it is highly recommended you anchor your greenhouse, all greenhouses.

I have added a few other things to this greenhouse to seal it and make it more functional but for now this post is long enough. I'll save the rest of what I did for another day's post....

in the garden....

Happy Birthday to Brian!

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden


  1. What a wonderful present, and great deal getting it at half price. It looks like you and Mr. Fix It did a great job and I look forward to seeing more pictures. Enjoy.


  2. Tina girl that is one impressive greenhouse !!
    You were so right ot look for more details and tips to making this work the way it should .. the location is so pretty with your plants smiling at the cool green house ? LOL
    A fantastic present by all means : )
    Enjoy it girl !

  3. One day I'll have a greenhouse too. I love the location!

  4. I wish I had a greenhouse...or rather a shadehouse (to keep the plants away from the hot sun), as it may be...Well done!

  5. Lucky you Tina! That looks like a great greenhouse! Nice place to house those plants in the winter.
    Hey, you're not getting the bad rains where you are, or are you? Hope all is well there. :)

  6. A gardener's dream! What a fantastic present for you and quite the family project, too. The greenhouse looks great and I'm sure you're going to be growing all kinds of new plants!

  7. Wow, you guys did a lot of work; but I am sure you will enjoy the fruits of your labor. Carla

  8. Oh, I never realized that I wanted a greenhouse before, but now I have greenhouse envy!

  9. WOW! Congratulations. It looks so great! You and and Mr. fix it did a great job. I love how the brick floor came out.

  10. Wow, Tina, that is so great -- I just wouldn't have thought that you lucky balmy Tennesseeans would *need* a greenhouse, wink! Looking forward to updates on how you use it / what you grow. So exciting!

  11. A greenhouse is something I've always wanted. It looks great. Can't wait to see it filled with plants.

  12. What a wonderful Christmas present! And kudos to Mr. Fix-it for being so patient and persevering to put it all together. (My husband swears whenever he puts something together that there are always some parts missing.)

    I've always wanted a greenhouse, but I'm afraid where we live it would blow away before the end of the season...sigh:(

  13. A greenhouse! I'm so envious. I keep wondering if there could be a way to put one somewhere in our little space. Not suprised that there needed to be adjustments. Seems like something is never the way the instructions say on those assembly projects. Sounds like Mr. Fix It worked it out. Keep us posted on how it works!

  14. Good morning all! Beautiful day today. We got about 10" in my garden. Clarksville is flooded in some areas but no where as bad as Nashville or Memphis. This rain event was historic. The closest we ever came before (Nashville stats) was in 1979 when Nashville had about 7" of rain, they had 15" yesterday! Wowser! I have to go out or I'd be home all day. Hoping to avoid flooding from the Cumberland and Red Rivers here.

    Flowerlady, It was cheap cheap cheap! Hopefully it stands up to the job though!

    Dawn, Thanks!

    Joy, You would not believe how much has to be done. So far so good!

    Darla, The location is perfect. Fairly shaded in summer but the deciduous trees allow sun in the winter. It was the only spot I had so it had to work. Thanks!

    Kathryn, Hello and welcome! From the Australian blogs I visit I hear so much about that sun so I don't blame you for wanted a shade house.

    Linda, Lots of rain here this past weekend. It is gone now but the rivers are still rising. No issues with my home. Thank goodness but it is a mess for so many. Thanks for your well wishes.

    Cameron, The greenhouse is tiny (6x8) so I'm hoping it keeps me honest-only a few new plants:)

    Carla, It's earning its keep already. The seedlings are happy.

    Heidi, I'm hoping to winter over my tender plants so my garage is able to house my car again. I hope it works. They are fun so far, we'll see on heating it.

    Lzyjo, Thanks! And to think that brick floor was free except for the gravel.

    Monica, 100 degrees in it in the daytime before the leaves leafed out. Balmy indeed! I may spend all my winter daytime hours in it. Just set up shop:)

    Marnie, That will be neat too! I hope the plants like it in the winter.

    Rose, I think manufacturers add extra parts to befuddle our guys sometimes. You are right greenhouses are susceptible to blowing away. I was VERY worried it would blow away during these storms but it has remained in place. I still haven't anchored it yet though-better get to it soon.

    GSS, It was hard finding a spot indeed but I love it that I found one. They really don't take much space if you find a good deal jump on it.

    Everyone have a great day and send good wishes that the waters will recede in all this sun.

  15. That's exactly what I need. Now I know where to get it and how to build it. Thanks!!!

  16. Congratulations Tina - what a perfect present for you.
    My greenhouse is old and I don't heat it - if it lives through the winter I'm happy. It's my 'putter place' kind of like a man's shop. I spend hours there potting and playing. LOL I also got mine for a price I couldn't afford to pass up.
    Much enjoyment for you in yours!!!

  17. A good reason for why I don't have a greenhouse ~ no Mr Fix-it to do all the installation!
    I'm so envious tho ~ it's something I've wanted for a long time. I hope yours is all you imagined it to be. Looks like you both did a fantastic job putting it up. Now the fun begins!!

  18. First of all Happy Birthday to Brian!
    And, Tina I love your greenhouse -I think it would be so great to have one:) Starting little seedlings out comes to mind for me:) We will be delayed in planting because of all this rain. The yard is ready but the side road overflowed -never did before in almost 4 years and the garden area is too soggy and wet to get things in. I think in a few days with the predicted temps it will be all set. Sorry so long winded -we already walked twice today and ran -no school -keeping the lil ones busy. Ciao!

  19. I bet you are excited to have it put together. It sure looks great. Really great info on sealing the panels. I hope one day we'll have the space for a greenhouse and so I'll store this knowledge away for then.
    I've been thinking of you and wondering if you're near all the flooding? Hope you're staying dry.

  20. I came over from peonies & magnolieas blog. Wow! What a great Christmas present! Is it a late Christmas present or a very early Christmas present? Either way, it's wonderful. And you both did a wonderful job getting it up.
    Patricia :o)

  21. Troutbirder, Harbor Freight has some cool deals. Be sure to sign up for their coupon mailing.

    Linda, They are fun aren't they? I'm not sure how heating will go but I'll give it a try. How come you don't heat yours? I know you are warmer than me but still I think it'd come in handy.

    Kathleen, We girls could set this up easy-trust me. I just like to keep hubby in the loop every now and then. wink wink.

    Anonymous, Don't even venture out in this mess. They have most of downtown closed off. Crazy it is! Keep those kiddos occupied-swimming might be in order-pretty hot today:)

    Catherine, No flooding near my home but downtown and close to the rivers and creeks it's pretty bad. What a mess! Yup, that sealing of the panels was priceless to me. Remember that one tip.

    Patricia, Hello and welcome! Thanks for letting me know how you found this blog. We got this greenhouse in December but due to the cold the setting up was delayed. Then it took a few more weeks to get everything in place. Time sure passes quickly. I was most anxious to put it up in December let me tell you. Best we waited and did it right. Thanks for dropping by and I posted a link to your WONDERFUL give a way on my sidebar. Someone is going to be most happy with that gift and I wish the winner much luck. Hey you all, go check out Patricia's blog on my sidebar link. Such a nice blog that has lots of gardening stuff.

  22. Lucky you to have both a greenhouse and Mr. Fix It to put it up!!

  23. Happy Birthday Brian.
    Tina, that is a wonderful greenhouse. I'm sure you will enjoy it a lot. I'm glad you aren't affected by all this excess water from the rains. I heard all of West Tn. was having it bad. Do take care.
    I'm worried about Skeeter. Have you heard from her since she left Tn?
    I hope all will be safe.
    I'm late with this as power went off & messed up puter.

  24. Hi Lola -we're doing well on this side but I'm also worried about Skeeter. Glad your computer is working -this flooding is unreal -the TV has shown some really scary footage -water just taking over -have a good evening. Ciao

  25. Hi Anonymous,
    Thanks for letting me know that you guys are ok. I too have seen some bad looking pics of the flooding. It's not pretty either. Nashville is real bad. Huntingdon not good either.
    Sure hope Skeeter is ok.
    Have a great day all.

  26. I super excited for you!!! I've been wanting (and planning) for a greenhouse for the past year. Thanks for the link - I'll definitely have to check it out. Can't wait to hear how this works out for you this winter.

  27. The greenhouse looks impressive! Now you can grow things in here and can start seedlings not worrying about the cold! Congratulations.

    I hope the flood is not bad. Stay safe.

  28. What a perfect gift and good job to Mr. Fix-it! It looks great, can't wait to hear how it works out this winter. :)

  29. I'm glad to see that you're posting about building a greenhouse instead of recovering from intense rainstorms. Stay safe!

    I had a 10x12 greenhouse for years and grew some of the kinds of orchids that didn't like to drop below 60 degrees. When it hit freezing outside it was all my big gas heater inside could do to keep the interior around 50-55. It got to be a pretty expensive proposition, and just that much heating double the gas bills. I expect the double-walled panels will make a difference for you. My walls were just single sheets of fiberglass. One thing I did was to have no glazing at all on the north, just an insulated wood wall. I think that helped keep the temperature moderate, and there's not that much point to having a glazed north wall anyway since the sun doesn't come from that direction. Just paint the wall white so it reflects.

  30. I want a greenhouse so badly and this only makes me want one more! Thank you for the tips and the link- good to know what you're getting yourself into!