A GreenhouseFarming.net reader shared with us this creative and ultra cheap greenhouse idea, cobbled together with some 2x4s and a roll of pallet wrap.
In this article, we’ll first explain what pallet wrap is and where to get it, then we’ll launch into a step-by-step design guide with pictures on building your own pallet wrap greenhouse. We’ve made sure to present you with any relevant warnings as well.
At the end of the article, you will find the URL of the video this article and plans are adapted from.
But first, here’s a picture of what you’ll be building. If this excites you read on! If it instead terrifies you and fills you with dread, try a more traditional design like our cold frame greenhouse.
What on Earth is Pallet Wrap?
If you haven’t hung around warehouses much or if your career isn’t shipping and recieving related, you may have never heard of pallet wrap before.
Basically it’s just an enormous roll of the common kitchen “plastic wrap,” or “cling film” for our British visitors.
When a manufacturer in China sends a big pallet full of boxes, they wrap it tightly in a roll of pallet wrap to make sure it doesn’t budge one inch while it’s working its way across the ocean.
Well thank the greenhouse gasses that pallet wrap is available now for the home user via online marketplaces like Amazon! People are doing some really amazing and creative things with it.
Not For the Discerning Eye
But I’m warning you! The pallet wrap greenhouse does not have that “Better Home and Gardens” aesthetic! In fact most of what I show here and on my other sites are function well before form. However the following guide will get you a cheap hothouse very fast, so if that’s what you need, then keep that scroll wheel scrollin’.
Best of all, once you’ve got your greenhouse farming operation profitably rolling, you can build a more permanent greenhouse and tear this one down in literally minutes when you don’t need its services anymore.
Building The Pallet Wrap Greenhouse
Below I outline the steps to build a 12x12x8 greenhouse. The footprint is 12′x12′, or 144 square feet. Adjusting the size is easy, I’ll even provide a download link for the SketchUp file I used so you can adjust it on your own. These are the materials I planned for when designing my version.
- 8 12′ 2x4s for top and bottom frames
- 4 8′ 2x4s for corner posts
- 4 8′ 2x4s for corner struts
- 1 lb of 2″ deck screws
Here’s what we’re building. Let’s get started!
12×12 Base and Roof
I wouldn’t go any larger than 12′x12′ for the base without adding extra up-and-down support columns. You may even decide to add extra supports for a 12′x12′ greenhouse, especially if you’re anticipating stiff winds in your vicinity.
You’ll need a minimum of 4 uprights, but anticipate doubling this to 8 if you need extra stability in your structure once you’ve completed and tested it out.
A higher ceiling should actually improve air circulation within your greenhouse, and allow some of the extra heat to float toward the top on hot days. That’s the same reason those old southern plantation houses always featured towering ceilings.Again for the top frame you’ll want 4 more 12′ 2x4s.
2′ Corner Braces
I’ve designed my version with 4 corner braces on each wall, all 2′ in length. I wouldn’t go any shorter than 2′ – in fact doubling this to 4′ is probably a good idea for added stability. 32 total corner braces are a total of 4 8′ 2x4s (typically buying in 8′ lengths in cheaper than buying in 12′ lengths.)
2″ Deck Screws
Now you can screw it all together with 2″ deck screws. Pre-drilling your holes takes longer but creates a longer-lasting and sturdier structure and is less likely to split your wood.
Now for the Plastic Wrap
You’ll want to string your pallet wrap along the top first. Complete the top fully before starting on the sides.
Start from the base and work your way up toward the top.
This thing’s so huge and light that it’s essentially a big sail. You might consider staking it down with some pointed 2x4s or even tent posts. You don’t want this thing blowing away because it’ll just keep rolling and will destroy every tomato in its path.
Additional Design Possibilites
I’m fascinated by all the different ways you can incorporate other uses into a greenhouse like this. What if you built a chicken coop into the top layers of this greenhouse to give you automatic fertilization? I like seeing these Salatin solutions combining disparate elements to solve problems in elegant ways.
Credits: Watch the full video from Green Power Science at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzz3L0y3-MQ
Files: The framing renders are made with the Sketchup program. Download the Sketchup File if you’re up to adding to the design yourself.