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Lean to Hobby Greenhouse

Updated on April 11, 2018
Tricia Deed profile image

Tricia Deed writes about many different hobbies and one which is very popular is gardening and landscaping. Earth and water.

Barn With Lean-to Attachment

A lean to is attached to one side of a stable building. This barn is displaying this style of construction which is suitable for many uses. The remaining three sides may be covered or left open.
A lean to is attached to one side of a stable building. This barn is displaying this style of construction which is suitable for many uses. The remaining three sides may be covered or left open. | Source

Purpose of a Greenhouse

Most of us are familiar with portable kits which provide seedlings in growing cups which need to be watered and covered with plastic. This is greenhouse gardening. But, you may be considering building a greenhouse for those beautiful plants. Wait a minute. Think carefully of how you intend to use the greenhouse.

It is recommended for beginners to start slowly.

The purpose of a greenhouse is to house plants and seedlings in an insect free environment which provides the right amount of humidity and warmth for their growth or propagation. It can also be used as a hospital for sick plants that need to be separated and reestablished. It is usually a temporary situation as the plants will be transplanted at their appropriate times into the main vegetable or flower garden.

Plastic Interior

An inside view of plants in a greenhouse.
An inside view of plants in a greenhouse. | Source

Lean-to Greenhouse

As a beginner consider a lean-to greenhouse. This is a simple but stable structure with a sloping roof which is attached to an existing building, wall, fence, or other structure. This project will cost more than a seed starting kit, but less than a free standing building or a more elaborate structure.

The modern portable lean-to is made with aluminum, PVC piping, and a variety of plastics or shade cloth. It is an asset for providing a garden setting in small spaces and provides the much needed protection and growing conditions for both seeds and plants.

Another advantage for portable units is the ease in locating the structure near water, electricity, and convenience to gardening supplies.

These portables can be used year-round or can be stored when not in use.

The lean-to dates back to the Victorian period mid 18th century honoring the reign of Queen Victoria.

Slant Roof

The Lean to is known for its vertically slanted roof.
The Lean to is known for its vertically slanted roof. | Source

Construction Materials

There are many varieties of lean-to designs from simple to more complex construction. As a beginner keep it simple and for the intended use.

Greenhouse construction can be of wood, steel, aluminum or plastic. The permanence of the main building, which can be your house, garage, barn, or other stable building, will determine if the roof and sides will be covered with glass, poly carbonate, shade cloth, or polyethylene film.

If you specialize in tropical plants start small. As you gain knowledge and success your garden will outgrow the beginning structure. Serious steps need to be taken to building a permanent structure for many plants.

We grow orchids as a hobby. We started with one plant never realizing that we had green thumbs for growing these beautiful flowers which in time would require a greenhouse.

The greenhouse was built. It is getting crowded with more orchids and now we are preparing to build its first addition. It is from these lessons learned that it requires thoughtful judgment of how you wish to garden. (Hint: the construction of the first greenhouse was designed to accommodate future additions.)

It is strongly suggested to start on a small scale as this will help direct your decision making process.

Victorian Style Lean-to Greenhouse

One of many older ornate lean to greenhouses of the 18th century.
One of many older ornate lean to greenhouses of the 18th century. | Source

Greenhouse Location

Questions To Ask Your Self:

  • Where is the greenhouse going to be built?
  • The first reality is understanding the position of the sun throughout the changing seasons. Most plants require 6 to 12 hours of sunlight. What wall of the lean-to will catch most of the sun rays? It is usually the south wall for best results. The wall receiving the sun rays needs to be dark in color to capture and hold the heat to keep plants comfortable during cool days or evenings.
  • Another consideration is the aesthetic value. If you want it against your house you would probably want it to look attractive with a design that fits the architectural design of your home.
  • Are you near water and electrical supply outlets?
  • Do you need to consider a pathway for carrying heavy supplies such as bags of fertilizer, compost, and top soil from the driveway?
  • The lean-to does not house garden tools. Do you have a nearby storage facility for your tools?
  • Construct the roofing of the lean-to greenhouse according to your area weather conditions.
  • Are you making your lean-to portable or permanent? The biggest advantage of a portable lean-to is to be able to relocate when the sun changes its direction during the different seasons.

The lean-to attached to the house will help provide insulation. Being near the house will make it easier to access water and electricity to accommodate controling temperatures and humidity regardless of the time of the year. This makes for easier cleanup of hands and equipment and those few times of working in the greenhouse at night.

An Interior Home for Plants

A large greenhouse to accommodate many plants.
A large greenhouse to accommodate many plants. | Source

Permanent Greenhouse Construction

A lean-to is considered to be half of a building. Your costs will be much greater than a portable unit. But this lean-to is meant to be a lifetime half building, however, your costs will be minimized as you are using one of the walls attached to a house, barn, shed, or other permanent structures.

Determine the size, design, land area, plumbing, electricity, and the materials which will satisfy your greenhouse garden needs.

There are do it yourself kits which can be purchased. These kits can be erected in a day or a weekend depending on the type of unit ordered.

DIY Lean-to

A lean to attached to a storage shed or is the storage shed attached to the lean to?
A lean to attached to a storage shed or is the storage shed attached to the lean to? | Source

Residential Construction Sites

DIY individuals with basic construction skills can visit residential construction sites, salvage yards, garage sales, flea markets, and their local communities for old windows and doors.

Used but good lumber may be also be located at these sites. Shelving units, discarded tables, and old sinks or tubs may be considered into your design. Costs may be from free to under $500.

Lean-to Greenhouse

Greenhouse Construction

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    Post Comment
    • Tricia Deed profile imageAUTHOR

      Tricia Deed 

      20 months ago from Orlando, Florida

      My aunt was an expert at raising orchids and I would travel with her to other green house locations to help others with their orchids. Our gardening relatives leave us with pleasant memories.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      20 months ago from Norfolk, England

      I've never owned a greenhouse. But I remember my Grandfather had a greenhouse in his garden and he was always in there growing all sorts of lovely fruit and vegetables.


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