Stacie Abdallah always assumed a greenhouse was out of reach. “For budget reasons, for space reasons…I had no clue where to start,” says the Atlanta-based DIYer and design blogger. But when this year’s One Room Challenge coincided with the pandemic, the novice gardener decided to go for it. (She had the extra time on her hands, but also a newfound desire to grow her own food.) Some basic Googling led Abdallah to a $400 prefab kit featuring a sturdy aluminum frame and UV-coated panels. It was the perfect jumping-off point to obtain her lush oasis.
To make room for the structure, Abdallah and her husband carved out an area near her raised garden beds. Two weeks later, they had the greenhouse up and running, but not without first making some modifications to the original design to better suit her own herb- and veggie-growing needs, like adding a custom worktable and switching up the orientation of the door. You can catch the full construction process on Abdallah’s blog and read on for a few low-lift ways she made the greenery-filled spot her own.
While her husband was busy working on making the foundation for the structure (he laid down landscape fabric so no weeds could grow and secured it with four concrete piers), Abdallah grabbed a few cans of black spray paint and covered all of the aluminum pieces to give it a sleek look. Doing all of this painting preassembly seemed to be the most logical approach, but the blogger says she should have done it after they had put all the tiny parts together. “When it’s all laid out, you don’t really know which sides are going to end up showing, so I had to paint every inch, which took up a lot of time,” she explains.
Make Your Door Work for You
So it would be easier to get in and out of the greenhouse, Abdallah decided to change the structure to include a swinging door (not a sliding fixture per the original instructions). “I have a fear of bugs, so I’m always trying to find a quick escape,” she says, laughing. They framed the new door with 2-by-4s and added hinges, mending plates, and a screen-door handle to allow it to sway. They also put in a step leading into the greenhouse, so no one would end up tripping over the base.
Don’t Forget Lighting
Just in case she needs to visit the greenhouse at night to check on her plant babies (there are tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, cabbage, and various types of melon in the mix), Abdallah installed a solar pendant light. The Amazon purchase is waterproof, so she can leave the windows open when it’s raining outside.
Use Leftover Scraps to Create an Herb Station
With some pallets left over from a previous backyard project and a few extra 2-by-4s, the pair constructed an L-shaped table to go inside the greenhouse (the scraps were used to create the top, and the newer cuts of wood were used for the supports). They measured it to be around waist height (42 inches) and deep enough to house the various containers (20 inches). “I’m still learning that my plants here have different watering needs than my ones outside,” says Abdallah. “I can’t follow the same systems and patterns—this is a different environment. I have to baby them a little bit more.”
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