3 Reasons To Build Your Own Attached Greenhouse

by ziggy on April 2, 2012 -- 7 comments -- Follow

Attached Greenhouse Design

Inside a beautiful attached greenhouse full of life…

Building your own greenhouse is a great idea if you are a gardener and want space to start seedlings, or grow plants that require a longer growing season than your climate can normally provide.

But a standalone greenhouse is one thing — an attached greenhouse design for your house brings in a whole other host of benefits to be considered that extend beyond the conveniences of growing food more easily.

Read on ahead to learn about all the reasons to consider an attached greenhouse design for your home — they include providing additional free heat, extending living space, and supplying space to grow food for a longer period of time.

Attached Greenhouses Provide Free Heat

Build Your Own Attached GreenhousePerhaps the biggest reason in my mind to build your own attached greenhouse is for the excellent effect of collecting free heat. By attaching a greenhouse to the south side of your home, you can use the space to capture heat in cold winter months, and use it to heat your home — for free! If you live in a cold climate, consider this. A greenhouse designed on the south side of the home will gradually warm on a clear, cold day. Once the space is warm (80 degrees or more), an operable window (or two) in the house can be opened to let in that warm air, essentially heating the house passively with the power of the sun. That means burning less wood or using less fuel to warm your home.

It’s a no-brainer, and it’s taking passive solar design one step further. Oh, and of course you could actually sit in the greenhouse itself on such cold, clear days as long as you have an easy access to the greenhouse from the interior of your home. Consider a small area that is well-furnished (a comfy chair or two, or a bench, with a little table, at least) to make the space more appealing for such occasions.

Extend Your Living Space (Inexpensively)

Greenhouses do not have to be terribly expensive, especially if you go the route of using recycled glass windows for the majority of your wall space — the cost is significantly less than a finished interior room. It may be wise to consider the greenhouse as an extension of your living space. I know one family that has a kitchen in their greenhouse and a great big pizza oven. (In fact, they spend most of their time in the greenhouse throughout the year.) During the summer, the space can be vented, keeping it as warm/cool as the outdoors, but in winter the space will normally get quite warm on a clear day.

In our new timber frame and straw bale house, we plan on adding a sink, solar shower, and composting toilet in our greenhouse. Going this route is way less expensive than an indoor bathroom proper (remember, finished interior rooms are expensive), plus it’s actually more convenient in a way, too.

Consider adding seating space to your greenhouse for those clear winter day occasions, when you can sit back and relax in 80+ degrees in shorts and a t-shirt, while it’s freezing outside!

Grow More Food

Of course, the most obvious benefit to designing a greenhouse is for the benefit for growing food. They provide space for starting seedlings, and growing plants that require longer growing seasons than what your climate can provide. Many folks choose to grow plants that would never survive the winter outside, such as meyer lemons or fig trees. Greenhouses are invaluable for serious gardeners or food producers. Having an attached greenhouse for this purpose brings the food that much closer to your door, too — it can be aesthetically very pleasant to have greenery thriving all year-round directly outside your windows.

Image credit: coco+kelley via photopin cc

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  • Peter

    Or build the whole house inside a glass house.

  • I notice that most “Earth Ships” have an attached greenhouse on the South side. I like the idea. I saw a video on Youtube where it was all snowy outside and then they went inside the house and it was lush and tropical inside.

  • Mike

    Some good points about the attached greenhouse. Our place could benefit from one.

    I’d love to hear more about your solar shower design. Perhaps a future post? I was going to build one last summer, but got busy with other projects. All we have is an outdoor cob tub which is good for 3/4 of the year, but gets dicey at -30 with no buried water line.

    My guess is the winter hangout spot will be the greenhouse for sure!

  • Juanita

    Yes, and it extends the season here at 8000 feet!

  • Eva Elisabeth

    I am very much with you on this one, if we can ever swing it we are going to build and attached lean to greenhouse on the SE facing side of our home. The difference it would make to season extension and seed starting would make it so worthwhile to us.

  • nim

    I love the idea and am thinking of doing this on a small scale, on the side of a cob/strawbale shed in my back yard. My concern and the reason for the proof-of-concept is for the humidity. I don’t know what all that “tropical lushness” will do to limed walls. Do you know?

    I’d also like to place a shower in the greenhouse lean-to, and use the shower’s humidity to help the plants and use the greenhouse’s warmth to help the person in the shower. 🙂

  • Dawn Owens

    Anybody know how this would work in the cloudy rainy winters of Oregon? I’d love the free heat but am worried about the mold and lack of solar gain in the wintertime. Maybe with cedar walls instead of cobbed?

    Free glass is definitely easy to get. Check Freecycle in your area, or Craigslist ‘free’ listings, or a Recycle store for everything from broken glass you can cut to fit to old used shower doors, which work well in areas you need a bit of privacy on.

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