We have a new feature in our garden: A portal to the tropics. This morning the temperature outside was under 30 degrees, and when I walked through the portal it was 62 degrees, heated by the sun. By noon it was over 70.
My husband, Chris, and our talented friend, Bruce, who also worked on our master bathroom remodel and kitchen remodel, worked for over a week in rain and freezing temperatures to prepare the site and assemble the greenhouse.
It’s not quite finished, but I’m already so happy with it that I wanted to give you a sneak peek and show you the process.
Making it Fit
A lean-to greenhouse is basically one-half of a greenhouse that attaches to the side of a building. Ours would be attached to the south side of our garage, where our vegetable garden was.
The greenhouse we bought on Craigslist would measure about 5′ X 10′ when assembled. But that wasn’t long enough to cover both of the windows on the south side of the garage, and the greenhouse would have to be placed off-center on the garage wall, which wouldn’t look right.
Going Shopping at Sunglo
Luckily Sunglo is located in Kent, Washington – a short drive from our house. So we arranged to pick up a 2.5 foot extension kit. This would bring the length of the greenhouse to 12.5 feet, which would cover both garage windows.
I have to add here that Sunglo greenhouses are over 90% made in America and many of its components are actually manufactured right there in Kent. So we felt pretty good about buying this product and supporting the local economy.
Of course while we were there we had to add a few upgrades to our greenhouse, like a nice little cedar shelf to replace a wire shelf. We needed a few other parts, and most of them were machined while we waited.
Preparing the Site
Chris and I removed all the plants, part of the walkway, and much of the soil next to the garage to level the site.
Next, Chris and Bruce measured out the foundation area of the greenhouse and sunk concrete pillars with brackets to hold the foundation.
For the foundation, they used pressure-treated 4X12 lumber. The 12″ foundation would add the height needed so that the greenhouse would be tall enough to cover the top of the garage windows.
Framing was added to the garage wall so the greenhouse could attach to it. Attaching framing to an 80-plus year old stucco structure was tricky because nothing was level, so Bruce had to pull a few magic tricks out his hat to make this work.
Next they brought in lots of sand as the subfloor and placed concrete pavers over the side that would get foot traffic and gravel over the side where the potting bench would be located.
They brought in two sources of water: a wall faucet for a small hose, and a stub for a future drip irrigation system. They also brought in electricity.
They even installed a small patio outside the greenhouse door.
Assembling the Greenhouse
Finally, they could start assembling the greenhouse and we could see it taking shape. I just love the curved roof design. It gives it so much character.
Chris and Bruce got lots of advice and information about the assembly process from the helpful folks at Sunglo. Things were getting very interesting as each panel was installed and the greenhouse came together.
It still needs some work around the door frame and a few finishing touches. It will have a built-in cedar potting bench with a soil basin and small cedar shelf above that. But here is the interior at this point.
It also has automatic heating and cooling. If it gets too warm, a fan on the west side automatically comes on and a vent on the east side opens. Pretty nifty! There are also a couple of manual vents.
Chris couldn’t resist wrapping his creation in Christmas lights.
I just can’t wait to find the right interior lighting for this adorable little greenhouse, something industrial yet attractive.
In spring we will be carving out a new vegetable garden around the greenhouse to blend it into the landscaping. We might also do some kind of façade over the wood foundation, or paint it.
I have already put a few plants in there and they seem very happy. But warm as it was in there on this cold day, I’m tempted to kick them out and put in a couple of comfy chairs, a coffee maker and a wine cooler.
Is that so wrong?
You might also enjoy:
- Greenhouse on the Brain
- Color Tip: Go Bold and Have Fun with Outdoor Structures
- Garden Design: Color Ideas for Creating a Unified Look in Your Garden
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