If you are a gardener, or a gardening wannabe, you’ve probably considered building your own greenhouse at some point. How much would one cost? The national average for a professionally installed greenhouse is about $11,000 with most homeowners spending between $2,000 and $25,000.
Is that a little too rich for your wallet? Not to worry. This article will discuss DIY options as well, which have a much lower price range. Either way, you can have your backyard greenhouse up and running in less time (and for less money) than you may think.
In this article:
- Average Costs
- Cost Estimator by Size
- Other Factors That Affect Cost
- Related Services
- DIY Cost
- Cost by Location
Average Greenhouse Costs in 2023
|National Average Cost||$11,000|
|Typical Price Range||$2,000 – $25,000|
|Extreme Low End Cost||$1,000|
|Extreme High End Cost||$30,000|
Greenhouse installation costs vary based on a number of factors. Things that ramp up the cost include a larger size, use of irrigation, heating, high-end materials, and ventilation systems.
For a small greenhouse, you may want to nix water, heating systems, and ventilation fans altogether in favor of manual solutions, which will greatly reduce your expenses. In a larger set-up, expect a higher upfront investment.
Greenhouse Cost Estimator By Size
Size is a top cost consideration. For example, if you have a small to medium-sized greenhouse, you are unlikely to invest in a heater, misting system, water lines, or the like. The larger your growing operation is, the more necessary those systems will become.
The average square foot cost is $22, and most residential greenhouses cost anywhere from $5 – $30 per square foot. Below are the average price ranges for an installed backyard greenhouse.
|Greenhouse Size||Average Overall Cost|
|50 sq. ft.||$250 – $1,500|
|300 sq. ft.||$1,500 – $9,000|
|600 sq. ft.||$3,000 – $18,000|
Other Factors That Affect Cost
Aside from size, greenhouse pricing is also influenced by:
- Greenhouse type
- Framing material
- Glazing material
- Flooring material
- Site preparation
- Building permits
Type of Greenhouse
Each type of greenhouse has its own price range. Please see typical pricing for greenhouse types in the table below.
|Greenhouse Type||Typical Price (per sq. ft.)|
|Hoop House||$5 – $10|
|Rooftop||$10 – $20|
|Geodesic||$10 – $25|
|A-frame||$25 – $35|
Hoop houses provide people with a low-cost option that is small and portable. They are ideal for homeowners on a budget who want a safe space for backyard gardening.
The average hoop house costs $5 – $10 per square foot.
Urban agriculture is trending, especially in the top cities for urban gardens. Some city dwellers are serious about starting a rooftop garden and want to protect their seedlings and veggies from bugs and frost.
The average rooftop greenhouse costs $10 – $20 per square foot.
Geodesic greenhouses have curved surfaces, thus giving plants more sunlight in the early day and evenings. Additionally, they are stronger and better able to handle wind and snow than square greenhouse constructions.
The average geodesic greenhouse costs $10 – $25 per square foot.
A-frame greenhouses are the strongest and also the most visually appealing. Many are built to meet standard building codes and stand firm in any climate. Even though they are expensive, they are common among residential and commercial greenhouses.
The average A-frame greenhouse costs $25 – $35 per square foot.
The frame is the bones – the actual structure – of your greenhouse. What material you decide to use for the frame can greatly impact your overall project cost.
|Framing Material||Cost Per Square Foot|
The different glazing options are one of the top variables that influence the wide range of greenhouse prices. Glazing is whatever material you choose to go on top of or inside the frame of your greenhouse.
|Glazing Material||Cost Per Square Foot|
|Polyethylene film (aka greenhouse plastic)||$0.20|
There are several flooring solutions available for your greenhouse. One solution is to leave a dirt or grass floor, which is very cost effective (free, in fact) unless you need your installer to do some leveling.
Here are the costs of some other popular types of flooring for greenhouses.
|Flooring Material||Cost Per Square Foot|
|Landscape fabric||$0.45 – $0.80|
|Pea gravel||$1.00 – $3.00|
|Concrete||$2.50 – $6.00|
|Pavers||$8.00 – $25.00|
Greenhouse prices also depend on the insulation used. Please see typical insulation prices in the table below.
|Insulation Type||Typical Cost Per Square Foot|
|Thermal screen||$1.50 – $4.00|
|Base cladding||$1.50 – $3.00|
|Double-pane glass||$2.50 – $3.50|
|Bubble wrap||$2.60 – $3.00|
Many greenhouses do not require any utilities, but some will require:
- Electricity: You may need electricity for lighting, plumbing, HVAC, and other gardening equipment.
- Plumbing: Some greenhouses require plumbing for an irrigation system.
- HVAC: Greenhouses may need climate control.
|Greenhouse Heater||$55 – $270|
|Greenhouse Fan||$25 – $150|
|Type of Contractor||Typical Hourly Rate|
|Plumber||$45 – $150|
|Electrician||$45 – $100|
|HVAC||$60 – $150|
Some homeowners prefer using the sun to power their greenhouse. Unfortunately, solar greenhouses are expensive, typically costing $35 – $45 per square foot.
Preparing the Site
The overall cost of your greenhouse will be more expensive if the land isn’t ripe for building. Site preparation may include:
- Leveling uneven land
- Excavating land
- Clearing trees and bush
- Removing grass
The most expensive of the above is the excavation and land clearing.
The average cost of greenhouse permits is $100 – $600. There are two types of permits that you may need to build your greenhouse – zoning and building permits.
Zoning permits dictate where you can build the greenhouse, and building permits dictate how to build it. Urban areas usually have more restrictions than rural areas, and rooftop greenhouses are the most difficult to get approved.
While your handyman or contractor is setting up your new greenhouse, why not bundle a few other services as well?
If you’re planning for a stunning display of flower growth in the spring, you can have your contractor bring in mulch for your flower beds. On average, mulch costs $20 to $70 per cubic yard (depending on the type), and landscapers charge about $40 to $100 per hour to install it.
If a big stump is in the middle of your backyard where you want your greenhouse to go, you’ll need to have it removed. Stump grinding costs about $160 to $450, depending on the size of the stump and the length of time it takes to grind it.
Raised Garden Beds
Looking for something more affordable than a greenhouse but still want to keep your plants safe? Raised garden beds could be right for you. The cost of a raised garden bed kit typically falls between $105 and $210, which is significantly less than you would spend on building a greenhouse.
Cost of Building a Greenhouse DIY
DIY is a great option for handy homeowners who want a greenhouse but don’t want to spend so much money. You can find greenhouse kits online that are affordable and easy to install.
DIY Cost Breakdown
Buy a kit and read the directions. They will tell you what equipment you will need. Most small greenhouse kits don’t need much more than:
|DIY Greenhouse kit||$4,000|
|Impact driver (rental)||$25 (per day)|
|Gravel||$310 (for about 200 sq. ft.)|
How to Build a Greenhouse DIY in 10 Steps
Follow the instructions that come with your greenhouse kit. The basic steps will be something along these lines:
Step 1: Dig a trench in which to sit the base of the greenhouse if you are planning to have the greenhouse sit atop the ground.
Step 2: Put together the base. Make sure it’s level.
Step 3: Assemble the frame and connect it to the base. Make sure it’s level and square.
Step 4: Insert the columns in the frame.
Step 5: Construct the roof framing and insert the glazing.
Step 6: Lift the roof and attach it loosely to the frame, not pushing all the way into the frame.
Step 7: Attach the glazing panels.
Step 8: Make sure the roof is pushed down into all the columns after the glazing is added.
Step 9: Attach the door.
Step 10: Lay the landscape fabric, secure it with staples, and add gravel to make a nice floor. Level out the gravel with a garden rake. (Some people do this after step 2 instead).
DIY Cost vs. Professional Installation
If you have basic carpentry skills, you can save by making your own greenhouse. DIY greenhouses are about 40% of the cost of a professional installation.
Cost of a Greenhouse By Location
DIY growers install greenhouses in residential backyards, city rooftops, and even in space. That being said, the cost varies widely depending on where you are, especially if you have your greenhouse professionally installed.
Labor rates can drive your cost up significantly higher than the estimates in this article in some parts of the country (like California) or make the cost significantly lower in other parts (like Kansas).
FAQ About Greenhouses
1. Can I use my greenhouse for something other than plants?
Absolutely. If yours is large enough, or attached to the house, it may be a great spot to put lounge furniture and entertain. Hey, it’s already decorated with flowers, right? It might even be a nice warm spot to exercise outdoors in the winter.
2. How long does polyethylene sheeting last on a greenhouse?
Many companies advertise that their polyethylene sheeting will last for four years.
3. How do greenhouses fare in snowy climates?
They can fare very well. Consider your site orientation and south wall angle to maximize your greenhouse’s sun exposure. Make sure the design or kit you choose has sturdy framing and roof trusses to allow for increased snow and wind loads.
Greenhouses give you control over your growing environment and protect crops from weather and pests. Climate-controlled units also allow crops to flourish outside their regular growing season. Find out what professional contractors are currently charging in your area to install a greenhouse.
Michelle Selzer contributed to this article. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.