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Cheap and easy greenhouse ideas

When your plants and flowers are looking a bit worse for wear, bring them inside with these cheap and versatile greenhouse ideas. A greenhouse can provide the proper environment for any plant, flower or vegetable to thrive.

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Ground frost is a real problem for UK gardeners when winter temperatures reach freezing. Erecting a greenhouse garden is a great solution when your plants, vegetables, and flowers struggle to stay alive in the freezing UK winters.

Keeping your plants warm and toasty, even in a small greenhouse, can extend the warmer seasons, allowing seedlings and fragile plants to flourish.

Green thumbs who want to know how they can add a greenhouse to their garden, this article is for you.

Why do I need a greenhouse - winter gardening

Cheap greenhouses

Greenhouses don’t have to be expensive. If you’re looking for an affordable greenhouse, skip the more costly Victorian and glass greenhouses and go for plastic-covered, polycarbonate or tunnel greenhouses. Here are some of our favourite, cost-effective greenhouse ideas.

1. Keep it small

A large greenhouse means more materials and more money. You can still create a decent-sized, functioning greenhouse cheaply by opting for no bigger than 6 ft x 8 ft; after that, things get expensive.

Then, utilise space with a single aisle, shelves and hooks to create more growing room.

Greenhouse for plants

2. Transform a shed or summer house

Have you considered converting that unused outbuilding into a plant greenhouse? Summer houses, sheds and outbuildings with lots of windows and natural light are sturdy and inexpensive options for a greenhouse.

Try swapping wood panels for extra large windows or a glazed front half with cost-effective greenhouse glazing.

This stunning converted shed would make the perfect half shed, half greenhouse, with its many tall windows and large dimensions. You could also store your tools here with a few hooks and shelves. Or, create a small reading nook or hobby corner.

Check out our best shed ideas for more inspiration for your greenhouse garden.

Unless you are a carpenter, we always recommend hiring a trusted tradesperson to build your new shed or convert an old shed into a summer house for the best results.

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3. Bathrooms as a homemade greenhouse

Sunny bathrooms with lots of natural light can be the perfect place for thriving plants. Bathrooms are an oasis for plants that need lots of humidity. Use lots of shelves and hanging plants to maximise your bathroom greenhouses’ available space and natural light.

Bathroom greenhouse diy

4. Steal a sunny space from your home

If your bathroom doesn’t work as a greenhouse, use any space in your home that gets lots of natural light as a cheap greenhouse alternative.

Sunrooms, conservatories and porches already in your home are probably the cheapest small greenhouse ideas because you skip the build cost.

The homeowner of this gorgeous space below has a knack for indoor gardening and interior design. Combining floor-to-ceiling windows, various hanging and floor plants and egg chairs creates a relaxed and functional area.

Here’s a helpful floor-to-ceiling window cost guide if you’re feeling inspired.

Cheap greenhouse ideas uk with eggs chairs

5. Use vertical space

Use every available vertical space when planning your greenhouse by hanging shelves, plant boxes or baskets.

Like trailing fruit and vegetables, plants that grow downwards thrive in ceiling-suspended hanging baskets, making them good choices for small greenhouses.

Plant greenhouses-hanging flower baskets

6. Cold-frame greenhouse ideas

Cold-frame greenhouses are a great way to warm your soil in the early spring months and increase the sprouting of vegetables and fruit. But, cold frames are also moveable and reduce disease and pest problems.

Find out how to make your own greenhouse garden cold frame here.

As you can see from the photo below, a cold-frame greenhouse is a simple and uncomplicated way to look after your plant.

How to make a cold frame

DIY Greenhouses

DIY greenhouses are an increasingly popular trend for gardeners. The materials and style you use depends on your garden size, skills and available time. Check out our top choice below.

1. Temporary solutions

Use a large plastic sheet or drop cloth as a cold frame for temporary plant protection during the winter frost.

Alternatively, you can build a larger greenhouse using wood frames or PVC pipes and cover it with a large plastic sheet.

timber frame extension cost per m2

2. Go for plastic or polycarbonate

Swapping glass for plastic-covered or pre-fabricated polycarbonate greenhouses is a simple, budget-friendly greenhouse idea. Both can easily be bought online or in garden centres.

Where possible, pair polycarbonate greenhouses with solid foundations and footings secured to the structure to avoid wind damage. Always contact a reputable tradesperson when you need any foundations or building works.

DIY greenhouse solid foundation

3. DIY greenhouses

A DIY greenhouse is a customisable, budget-friendly greenhouse idea that has always been popular. Many gardeners choose DIY greenhouses and small greenhouse kits because they’re easy to install, often portable, and available in various styles to suit any garden.

This cold-frame greenhouse’s basic structure and materials mean it’s a straightforward DIY small greenhouse kit for any gardener.

DIY greenhouse kit for small gardens

4. Reuse old windows

Reusing and recycling old materials in your garden projects is a great way to help the planet and keep all your lovely fruit and veggies safe from frost.

Create the greenhouse effect by using your old windows in combination with straw-bale to insulate walls and extend the growing season.

As you can see below, old window frames are an easy-to-install, clever cover when used in a cold frame.

DIY greenhouse making a cold frame from old windows

5. Tent your garden

Consider a tented garden if constructing a full-scale greenhouse in your backyard isn’t an option. Greenhouse garden tents are easy to build and don’t require any installation or maintenance hassle you get with a permanent structure.

As you can see from the gorgeous tented garden below, adding a tent to your back garden offers insulation for your plants and a weatherproof place to relax.

UK greenhouse DIY

Mini Greenhouses for small gardens

Even if you have a small backyard or a tiny terrace, you can still enjoy the benefits of a greenhouse for small gardens.

Today’s mini greenhouse options let you grow herbs, small fruits, like strawberries, and flowers, without needing lots of outdoor space. Find some genius mini-greenhouse ideas below.

1. Sun it up on the balcony

You have space for a makeshift greenhouse if you don’t have a garden but a sunny balcony, patio or deck area. Make sure your balcony greenhouse gets lots of natural light, and use wall and floor space to get the most out of your mini-greenhouse.

Mini greenhouse for plants

2. Cabinet mini-greenhouse

Head over to Facebook marketplace, eBay or your local charity shop on the hunt for an old cabinet that can be turned into a greenhouse.

Give it a good clean and a lick of paint, and add some grow lights and a plastic covering for optimum conditions.  Greenhouse for small garden

3. Focus on layout

It’s easy to optimise a small greenhouse with some careful planning. Choose a practical single-aisle layout instead of overcrowding your greenhouse by splitting it into two aisles.

Using vertical space via built-in shelves and hooks for plants and tools also removes the need for more floor space.

Small greenhouse for plants and tool storage

4. Choose a narrow greenhouse

Narrow plant greenhouses hold light better than shorter ones and fit well in small sloped gardens.

Add in lots of glazing and ventilation, and omit columns, cross-beams and extra internal struts to get the most out of your green house design.

Modern greenhouse gardens

Popular UK Greenhouses

Some of the most popular UK greenhouse ideas could look great in any garden. See for yourself:

Make your UK greenhouses a focal point of your garden.

UK greenhouses can be beautiful and practical. Try pairing a period-style or modern greenhouse design that matches the aesthetic of your house, and think strategically about where your greenhouse will function well (south face is usually a good option).

This intricate, art-deco-style greenhouse design may look a little aged, but its timeless design brings a flourish of life to this garden.

Popular uk greenhouses

Lean into a lean-to

Victorian vine house-style greenhouses use existing walls and a sloped roof pitch, removing the need for high walls.

Victorian-leaning UK greenhouses provide easy access to your greenery for regular maintenance.

In addition, they promote optimum growing conditions, as the existing walls act as a storage heater, absorbing warmth during the day and releasing it at night.

Lean-to greenhouse ideas

Go big with your greenhouse ideas

Consider your available space and gardening habits when choosing a suitable greenhouse for plants.

If you have the budget and the space, always opt for at least 6 feet wide to ensure you have plenty of room for your plants and for you to move around.

A super-large greenhouse is also more versatile. You can make your greenhouse a useable horticultural space for growing plants and a:

Greenhouse ideas for large gardens

Large greenhouses are a fantastic, multifunctional addition to extensive gardens and large families.

But, always opt to have your super-sized greenhouse professionally installed to ensure it is safe and usable. Find out how much greenhouse installation might cost here.

What do greenhouses do?

Greenhouses are an excellent place for seedlings to bloom and for older plants to thrive because they use the greenhouse effect.

Even cheap greenhouses can provide the controlled temperature and humidity levels that plants need to fight the cold, frost and snow of temperate climates.

Installing a greenhouse removes the hassle of preparing and moving your garden and plants around every winter, as they don’t feel the effects of winter frost.

When you install and set up your greenhouse correctly, you can grow many varieties of fresh fruit, vegetables, fruits and exotic plants (depending on the climate).

Do greenhouses stay warm at night during winter?

Yes, greenhouses stay warm at night by trapping the sun’s rays feeding the plants throughout the day. So, once the sun’s rays enter the greenhouse, they cannot escape, and your plants retain their heat at night.

Whether you are considering a small DIY greenhouse or a large greenhouse that will require the help of a builder, we have a tradesperson who can help.

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