45 Best DIY Greenhouses ( Tutorials & Free Plans! )

How to build great DIY greenhouses, simple cold frames, tunnels, and hoop houses on a budget with BEST tutorials, design ideas and free building plans. Yes you can have a productive garden in winter and cold climate!

I can day-dream about them all day long … greenhouses and cold frames! They are such effective structures to extend the growing season, allowing us to start seedlings early and grow an abundant garden year round, even in the snowy cold winter!

45 BEST tutorials, free building plans & ideas on how to build easy DIY greenhouses, simple cold frames, garden tunnels & hoops with low cost materials!

You will discover that you can build your own greenhouse or cold frame even when you have little budget and little carpentry skills.

Every one of these greenhouses and cold frames contain lots of inspirations to learn from. You will find ingenious ideas such as passive heating elements of painted jugs, straw bale as building material that needs no tools, using tree branches, old bottles, windows, and even a trampoline! For more, here are 52 Best landscaping ideas & designs for front & backyard garden, and our complete guide to vegetable gardening for beginners.

Plastic Bottle DIY Greenhouses

*Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

Plastic Bottle DIY Greenhouses
Plastic bottle DIY greenhouse tutorial.

The easiest 1-minute DIY greenhouses, yet surprisingly effective. Check out the tutorial & 3 secrets to success here at A Piece Of Rainbow !

Cedar Branch Garden Hoop House

Cedar Branch Hoop House garden tunnel

This DIY cedar hoop can last 30 years! If you have Cedar or other rot resistant trees where you live, they can be an attractive and all-natural alternative to PVC pipes. Just add  good quality greenhouse plastic or less expensive plastic sheeting such as this one!

Collapsible Small Greenhouses

Collapsible Small Greenhouses

Just want to include these no-work version of greenhouses: these collapsible covers are made of Polyethylene greenhouse fabric. They are inexpensive and easy to store when not in use! You can find them here and here.

Pallet Greenhouse

DIY Pallet Greenhouse

Pallet wood is a great material to build garden structures like planters and greenhouses! ( The Green Lever )

Here’s our favorite tool for taking apart pallets –  a Duckbill Deck Wrecker that makes it so fast and easy!

best  tool for taking apart pallets
All about how to find and use pallets as a building material!

Old window cold frame

DIY window cold frame

Tara shares a tutorial from her fabulous book: Raised Bed Revolution on how to build a cold frame using an old window.

Simple DIY cold frame /mini greenhouse

Simple DIY cold frame /mini  greenhouse

A portable cold frame is easy to build and a great way to extend the growing season. Check out the video tutorial below!

Farmhouse DIY greenhouses using old windows

Big thank-you to our reader Cath for bring this to our attention: when looking for old windows to build your veggie garden greenhouse, make sure they were not painted with toxic lead paint. These instant lead paint test swab might be good to have on hand!

farmhouse DIY Greenhouses using old windows

This charming little greenhouse is made from 4 window panels and 2 plywood panels. The authors sealed the plywood walls.

However, I would use real wood panels made from 1×4 wood slats or similar, if the greenhouse is exposed to lots of rain and moisture.

Straw Bale Cold Frame Ideas

easy DIY Straw Bale Cold Frame
Source: Storey | High Mowing Seeds

These are very easy cold frames to build. So simple and so ingenious! Straw Bales hold the heat as walls that need no tools to construct, just add windows or plastic, and frame.

make a Straw Bale Cold Frame
CSU Hort

Notice in this design where the glazing is sloped towards the south to allow in more sunlight with tiers of growing space!

Before we talk about cold frames, I want to share with you two of my FAVORITE books on greenhouse gardening-

best greenhouse books

The classic is  Four Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long  by Elliot Colman. He gardens year round in cold Vermont, and shares simple, inexpensive designs for cold frames, unheated mobile greenhouses, and root cellars in this amazing book.

The new ground breaking ( literally) book  The Forest Garden Greenhouse  is written by permaculture designer Jerome Osentowski who grows bananas and citrus on a rocky hillside in Colorado with winters in -30s.

Easy A-frame DIY greenhouses

Easy A-frame DIY greenhouses using repurposed windows

A-frame greenhouses are very easy to DIY. Here are 3 variations showing different easy-to-work-with materials such as straw bales, old windows, and poly sheeting. ( Source: 11 | 12 | 13 )

Hardware Fencing Hoop House

Hardware Fencing Hoop House
Dave’s Garden | Peak Prosperity

An easy way to create a hoop house tunnel is to use hardware wire mesh! The livestock panels used here are a heavy gauge galvanized welded wire fencing material. The plastic cover can be removable to allow beans, gourds etc to grow in the summer!

Remember the AMAZING gourd tunnel here?

Amazing Living Structures | A Piece of Rainbow

Hoop House Over Garden Bed

tunnel Hoop House Over Garden Bed

PVC pipes are easy to bend. You can use floating row covers or greenhouse plastic to build hoop houses and greenhouse tunnels over garden beds. ( Bonnie Plants , and Whole Lifestyle Nutrition )

DIY Hoop House made easy

easy DIY Hoop House with PVC pipes

Cut sections from an old hose to clamp the greenhouse plastic to the PVC hoop. Great idea here!

Portable window cold frame ideas

Portable window cold frame ideas

Old windows plus salvaged 1″ x 12″ cedar equals …. awesome portable cold frames! Niki shares inspiring tips on using cold frames to grow vegetables and herbs in her awesome book: The The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year (The lower image is from For the Love of Lillian, site URL expired. )

More simple DIY cold frame greenhouses

simple DIY cold frame greenhouse ideas

Here is another wonderful tutorial inspired by Niki’s book : The The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year

simple DIY cold frame greenhouse free plan

This cold frame has added insulation which would be great for really cold winter climate,  and this cold frame with building plan has a light weight lid.

DIY window greenhouse

use old windows to build cold frame greenhouse

This large cold frame up-cycles old folding windows in a very creative way!

Cold Frame Along Masonry Wall

winter garden Cold Frame Along Wall

This one runs the length of a stone wall, facing south : ideal spot for a cold frame, as the stone (concrete works too) absorbs solar energy during the day and radiates it back out at night.  Deep Roots At Home )

CD Case Portable Greenhouse

DIY-Greenhouses-with cd cases

CD cases open and close, how smart! Meg‘s tutorial is filled with great details!

Small easy DIY greenhouse Projects

Small easy DIY greenhouses using wood frame and plastic cover

In Rob’s Northeast garden, plants such as lettuce, kale, broccoli, and herbs were able to survive the sub-zero weather in these cozy small greenhouse / cold frames. He has some fabulous & free greenhouse plans to download. ( Bepa’s Garden )

Easy to build A-frame greenhouses

easy and cheap A frame greenhouse ideas

Lightweight and portable, A-frame greenhouses can be covered with plexi glass, good quality greenhouse plastic or less expensive plastic sheeting such as this one! ( Source: 26 | 27 )

Super Easy DIY Hoop House

cheap DIY greenhouse made from pvc pipes

Love this backyard greenhouse with simple cross arch which is perfect for smaller raised beds like the 4′ by 6′ one here. Instead of pressure-treated lumber, consider using 2×12 redwood or cedar, which are non-toxic. ( QT’s Random Ramblings )

Trampoline Hoop House with Passive Heating

 trampoline hoop house

A brilliant use of an old trampoline -no cutting of the steel required- just pull the frame pieces apart and there you have 2 halves of the frame.

I also LOVE the use of old jugs that have been spray painted black.  They are filled with water.  During the day the water heats up, and at the night, they radiate extra warmth inside of the greenhouse!  ( Heather | How Does She )

Mini Box DIY Greenhouse

small garden DIY Greenhouse

Anne‘s simple and beautiful DIY hobby greenhouse with shelves is made from old windows, and the box shape makes it easy to build!

Retractable Hoop House

DIY hoop tunnel, a Retractable Hoop House
DIY hoop Greenhouse plan

The smart design makes it easy to work on the garden beds! The hoop house is framed with o.5″  PVC pipe. They fit into 1″ diameter tees that glide over the aluminum pipe rails that are 3/4-inch-diameter. The garden beds are from 8-foot-long, 2-by-6-inch untreated fir.(Grit )

Hinged cover DIY greenhouse

Hinged cover DIY greenhouse

Stephanie‘s greenhouse has a hinged cover on top of a raised bed: an easier way to remove the greenhouse cover!

Hinged top cold frames and DIY greenhouses

Hinged top cold frames and DIY greenhouses

More ideas on how to create a mini greenhouse or cold frame that can be opened for ventilation. ( Both images’ original sources seem to have expired. If you find it, please let me know! )

Free DIY greenhouse plans

Free plans to build DIY greenhouses

Ana’s great DIY barn greenhouse building plans and instructions inspired many versions!

farmhouse barn greenhouse DIY
large DIY greenhouse with clear acrylic polycarbonate sheet panels

A gorgeous large DIY greenhouse by The Elliot Homestead

Another DIY Barn Greenhouse

how to build a dutch barn greenhouse

Barn style greenhouses are attractive and not too difficult to build. Here‘s another DIY greenhouse with step by step building photos.

Fold up DIY greenhouse / Garden Shed

how to build a small greenhouse shed

This small DIY greenhouse kit is fold-able! It measures only 4 x 4 feet, disassembles in minutes with wingnuts and can be built in a weekend.

Salvaged Window Greenhouses

These are bigger greenhouses for the ambitious!  Each has great and unique ideas to learn from!

This one above is built by Andy at The Green Lever , a total of 24 windows and 16 pallets were used to build the greenhouse. It also harvests rainwater!

make a greenhouse shed from old windows

This one by Cheft at Instructables has built in vents, fan, etc. Comes with lots of detailed instructions. Reminder again: when looking for old windows to build your veggie garden greenhouse, make sure they were not painted with toxic lead paint. These instant lead paint test swab might be good to have on hand!

12 amazing DIY sheds : how to create beautiful backyard offices, studios and greenhouses with reclaimed windows

There are so many creative ways to use old windows to build greenhouses, check out these 12 most beautiful backyard DIY sheds made from reclaimed windows.

beautiful DIY blue greenhouse from old windows

This stunning blue green house from Fine Home Building shows us the process of builing a wooden frame according to the size of the windows. The roof is made of polycarbonate panels that are durable, lightweight, and let in lots of sunlight.

Plastic bottle greenhouse ideas

Plastic bottle greenhouse DIY ideas

This pop-bottle greenhouse is built by students at Wilmington College Community Garden site in Ohio, The completed greenhouse has a 14×14’ “footprint” with old tires as the foundation and two rain barrels collecting water as a part of the north wall. 

how to make greenhouse from lastic bottles

Another great example of greenhouse designs from Evergreen Scotland on flicker where you can get a clear view of how to join the plastic bottles together using bamboo poles.

Related article: Make a wood fired earth oven with recycled and easy to find materials.

building foundation for DIY wood fired outdoor pizza oven, aka cob / earth oven
Make a wood fired earth oven with recycled and easy to find materials.

Straw Bale Greenhouse

Straw Bale Greenhouse
large Straw Bale Greenhouse

This beautiful variation of our other straw bale cold frames, is built along the south wall of an existing shed. It’s 10 feet by 14 feet, made of clear corrugated roofing panels. Gotta love straw bale construction! ( Source: Simplify and Save )

DIY GeoDome Greenhouse Ideas

geo dome greenhouse DIY
Astrid Degroot

So inspiring, isn’t it ?!? A geodesic dome a beautiful and elegant structure that’s much more than just the cool look!

geodesic dome greenhouse with free plans
Northern Homestead | Astrid Degroot

It offers stability in high wind locations, material efficiency, modular construction, optimal sunlight absorption, tons of space to grow, and a chance of being voted the coolest backyard in town!

Love outdoor projects? Check out these 15 attractive DIY firewood racks & storage ideas!

DIY Strawberry Tower with reservoir!

Related article: Make a strawberry tower with recycled nursery pots!

small DIY greenhouses and cold frames

Love these greenhouse ideas? Pin them to your gardening boards on Pinterest!

best DIY Greenhouse ideas with free building plans


  1. I am amazed by the creativity and ingenuity of these DIY greenhouses. You have given me so many ideas and inspiration for my own garden. I especially like the greenhouse made from old windows and doors. It looks so charming and cozy. Thank you for sharing this awesome post.

  2. Hi Ananda
    Very comprehensive post. The topic has given me some great ideas on how to recycle some of the wood we remove and trim so that they can create some low-cost greenhouse frames. We don’t cut down many cedar trees. Would you know what other type of wood is suitable for long-lasting greenhouse frames?
    Warm Regards

  3. I’ve dreamed of this for years. Has to be done properly, though, so well worth digging through all this info. I haven’t had time to yet, but just want to pass on a thought. Not sure if it was covered anywhere. I replaced all the windows in our nearly 100-year-old house myself, buying most of the windows from Habitat for Humanity. I purposefully did not use the old windows in the garden because our whole house has many coatings of lead-based paint. I did not want that paint peeling off the windows and getting into the garden soil. Everyone needs to be aware of that risk with recycling windows. Also, the old glazing in our windows was falling out in big chunks, so I don’t think they would have withstood weather events for many years in anything but their original orientation (vertical). You need to be aware of using any painted recycled wood to be sure you’re not spreading lead into your yard or elsewhere.

  4. I love the idea of using previously used items like pallets, water bottles and old windows to make greenhouses. I’m trying to live a more self reliant lifestyle and doing so on a budget is a plus.

  5. Those who have those tent like carports that use those roughly 1 inch steel pipes can be repurposed to make lean in attached greenhouses to attach to an existing building. Instead of the tent style, it can reach upward of about 10-12 feet as a lean in to. Then buy another kits (Harbor freight) and the two together will given you what you need. Mine will be about 20 by 8. Huge greenhouse and it is not just for vegetables and fruits but for annual flowers too. My 2 story barn/office will be done soon and then I will put this greenhouse on the south side. will help warm the building too. Might strengthen it to put on two solar panels at the top.

  6. There are so many cool greenhouses out there. I really like some of the DIY ones cause the ones already built are so expensive. Thanks for the article. Ill be coming back!

  7. It’s so helpful to see all these different DIY greenhouses for small and big gardens! Many of them are great designs! Thanks to you!

  8. Thanks for Sharing good idea and hard working to build a DiY Greenhouse .I like your article . I will follow this idea and make an awesome greenhouse

    • I will be looking for materials for building my own portable greenhouse in my garage. I am wanting to roll it out onto the asphalt driveway, which is in the back of house. Hoping to double as raised , rolling bed in summer months. Would be ideal to roll back in garage to shelter during extreme cold or storms!

  9. Thank you for the amazing ideas! We are planning on building a greenhouse but wanted to add some sort of unique design. This is the best article we found!

  10. This winter we are going to make some hoop tunnels and cold frames. Love all these greenhouse tutorials! Thanks for the great ideas!

  11. Thank you for sharing this wide and informative guide on DIY greenhouses, As I found your blog, now it seems like I can do it myself. Keep sharing good things! I’m going to follow you.

    This the best idea to utilize plastic bottles. This idea also saves our country from pollution. More than 400+ plastic cold drinks bottles I stored in my storeroom. I will follow this idea and make an awesome greenhouse. Thanks a lot for sharing those amazing greenhouse ideas with us.

  13. Great post with great greenhouses’ solutions. It really looks so easy to do. I have a big garden and everything grow, just as nature intended. But this year I’m going to take it into my own hands and help it to grow better. Thanks for sharing.

  14. I really like these greenhouses because they are different in appearance but still as effective.

  15. What an amazing article for gardening and landscaping! We’re adding a couple of greenhouses in our garden this year! Thanks for all the best ideas!

  16. Your blog provided us with valuable information. Each & every tips of your post are awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  17. Oh yes! I love these ideas because my heart is into greens. This will definitely help me with my landscaping business. We’ll definitely add these ideas in our next projects!

  18. Wow, I never thought about those cold boxes! I wonder if they will stand up to Interior Alaska’s cold and snow. Will do some more digging! Thanks for the wonderful ideas! I love the idea of repurposing old windows.

  19. Thanks for the tip about the bottle mini greenhouses. I’m always looking for an easy way in the spring to keep the quails from nipping on the tender shoots. This might just be the solution

    • After winter and cold season is over when you plant your garden you can use the straw to put around your plants to hold moisture in and weeds out as the straw bales will not last long they will rot and mold.

  20. Amazing! I hope to one day build my very own greenhouse in a garden. Depending on the garden it would either be a lean on green house or that beautiful geo dome greenhouse. 🙂

  21. Punjabi with ‘Gurmukhi’ alphabets is not understood in Pakistan as mentioned in the ‘translation switch’ of your blog. Urdu with Arabic alphabets is widely spoken language of this country.

  22. Amazing piece of content, breath-taking images.
    Wanted to write an article about DIY greenhouse but with this kind of ideas who needs more!

    Nice job, really.

  23. These are some great ideas for greenhouses! I’m especially partial to the ones made out of windows–15, 16, and 17. I think they fit with my traditional ideas as to what a greenhouse should look like. What should I be looking for in greenhouse windows? Is being double-glazed important, for example?

    • hi jane! they do not need to be double pane, because even plastic greenhouses can be so effective, but it doesn’t hurt of course! habitat for humanity stores are good places to start =)

  24. These are all great DIY Greenhouses. I’d love to find plans/photos for a greenhouse make from a swing set frame. We’ve got an old swing set in the backyard and I know that it would make a great greenhouse. Please let me know if you come across any swing set greenhouses. Thanks!

  25. Oh I just love this post. We were just talking about how we needed to do this. Thank you for all of the GREAT ideas! We are here from “The Blogger Life” group by the way. Following you!

  26. I have always liked the idea of green houses. They are so simple and organic. There is nothing better than growing things in your own backyard. I never have owed a property to have one of my own. I need a balcony/ tabletop sort of green house. Thanks for sharing!!

  27. Ahhhh! So I’m in the process of house hunting now for my first house-all on my lonesome… And I’ve been trying to decide between a house and a townhouse-townhouses have HOAs but they take care of the snow removal for you and that’s nice… But I WANT these. So maybe I’ll get a house so I can make a little greenhouse, how lovely!

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