Kelly Dawson

Published on June 22, 2021

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Photography by Kristin Guy

A tomato plant here, a succulent or two there, and all of a sudden your plant collection has outgrown your home’s surface area. Rather than do the dirty work of planting your greenery in the ground, consider assembling a backyard greenhouse to give it a new year-round home.

A greenhouse may not sound like a top hangout spot, but adding a couple of stools or an outdoor rug (one designer we talked to even built a wraparound front porch) can quickly transform the hardworking structure into an outdoor oasis. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t fret—we rounded up a few of our favorites both large and small, built from scratch and from prefab kits.

Give Your Plants a Boost

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Photography by Chris Snook; Design by Imperfect Interiors

If raised beds sound a bit outside of your DIY wheelhouse, a simpler way to elevate your greenhouse (literally and figuratively) is swapping plastic nursery pots with terracotta, ceramic, or metal planters, just like the ones you’d find inside.

Go With Crystal-Clear Glass

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Photography by ArsiIkäheimonen; Design by Linda Bergroth and Ville Hara

Standard greenhouses are covered with a plastic film to keep rain and wind out while still letting the sunshine stream in. Although a more economical option, it isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as glass, which distributes light better. A crystalline roof and walls deliver such strong alfresco dining vibes that you may consider adding a bistro table and pair of patio chairs.

Guide the Way to Flourishing Greenery

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Photography by Chelsea Bock

A tension or track rod can help you fill every inch of your space with even more plants (especially those that love to climb—your philodendrons in particular will thank you!). 

Aim High (Especially If Your Plants Are, Too)

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Photography by Craig Whitehead

Take trendy vaulted living room ceilings outdoors by building an extra-tall greenhouse to nurture the biggest of plants, like cherry trees, monsteras, and palms. High ceilings also provide the needed space for your vining vegetables—think: green beans, peas, and squash—to stretch out every season.

Hang Mirrors to Reflect the Rays

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Photography by Toa Heftiba

If your dream outdoor space looks something like the New York Botanical Garden, but you’re working with a tiny terrace, give this tried-and-true hack a try: mirrors. Hanging up a reflective surface makes spaces inside and out appear larger.

Silo Mess With a Worktable

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Photography by Kristin Guy

Photographer and stylist Kristin Guy added counter-height shelving to her greenhouse solely for prepping and to keep gravel, dirt, and fertilizer together in one place for easy cleanup. Still got room? Bring in another surface (a table works, too) for showing off your fresh floral arrangements. 

Store Tools Stylishly

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Photography by Brigette Billups

Instead of grabbing those gray plastic bins synonymous with attics and garages, buy a weather-resistant wicker ottoman or metal locker (it can even double as an extra surface to hold more plants) like this Nashville couple did to house gardening tools and bags of soil.

Roll Out a Rug

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Photography by KK Horhn

At first, blogger and DIYer Stacie Abdallah thought all her prefab greenhouse needed was a coat of paint and wood pallets for a porch, but her favorite addition since installing the kit has been an inexpensive solar-powered light she bought on Amazon. “Look into incorporating things that bring the inside outside in a feasible way,” she suggests.

More plant ideas:
Dominique Drakeford’s Container Garden Was Entirely Started From Seed
Why Does No One Talk About This Important Plant-Care Trick?
Every Plant Collector Covets the Pink Princess Philodendron

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