Greenhouse build part 1

At our last house, my wife and I had a good little hobby greenhouse. We had built this on a 10′ x 12′ x 4″ concrete pad.


Predominately this worked very well, the only complaint I had was that it had zero heat retention during the colder months. We had incorporated a couple of the shelves, as well as the table. This offered a very viable solution for growing space. We both really enjoy gardening and having an active part in growing the food we eat.


With our recent move back to CO, we decided to up the stakes a bit as far as size and function. We have decided to go with a 15′ x 12′ passive solar greenhouse. Our lot is on a minor slope, which will give us the ability to dig into the ground and bury in the north and west sides of the greenhouse. We will be incorporating a climate battery into the design as well as some other design features to use as many passive capabilities as possible.

This article will provide some insight into what we have done, the process and the outcome.

Step 1 – Research, research, research! I have spent a lot of time reviewing do’s and don’ts, what worked for others and what didn’t. I have overviewed a couple different design ideas. and dwindled my selection down one or two ideas to follow through with a healthy mix of modifications/upgrades.

Step 2 – Marking out space while easy, had a few steps to it. The wife and I had to decide how much lawn space we were willing to shift to the greenhouse and grow space instead of grassy area (if you notice in the picture below, there aren’t any grassy areas to start). We had to call in local utilities to ensure that nothing would be in the way once we started digging.

IMG_2183.jpgStep 3 – The digging begins, but unfortunately I started with an 11″ shovel and need to move a LOT of dirt (roughly 18+ feet long, 15+ feet wide, and between 3 and 7 feet deep to accommodate for the climate battery. We also want to flatten out a section up front for grass. While I am not opposed to the workout, it’s just me doing it, and I want to get started on the actual build sooner rather than later. The actual greenhouse build area will be to the left in this picture.

Step 4 – A skid Steer┬árented from the local store to facilitate this in a much faster method. Woohoo, let’s play!

Step 5 – The ground is now mostly level. Lots of dirt moved out of the way, for now… Time to start digging out space for the climate battery / thermal mass. This will be a temporary hole dug 11′ x 8′ x 4′ down.

Stay tuned for future build process blogs.

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