Cattle Panel Greenhouse (This is how you build one)

Building a cattle panel greenhouse can be an excellent way to extend your gardening season by protecting your plants from harsh weather conditions and providing an ideal growing environment. A relatively cost-effective and durable option, cattle panel greenhouses are popular among avid gardeners and small farmers.

This article will guide you through the process of constructing a cattle panel greenhouse, ensuring that you have a strong and efficient structure to cultivate your plants all year round.

To build a cattle panel greenhouse, location is paramount, as it will greatly affect the efficiency of your structure. Carefully consider factors such as sunlight exposure, wind direction, and drainage when selecting the site for your greenhouse. 

In addition, the choice of materials and the overall design will play a critical role in the success of your project.

Greenhouse snippet

Table of Contents

Understanding the Concept of Cattle Panel Greenhouses

A cattle panel greenhouse is an affordable and versatile option for individuals wanting to extend their gardening season, especially during the winter months. 

These structures use strong, durable cattle panels as the main structural support, providing an accessible and effective method for creating a protected environment for plant growth.

Cattle panels, made from welded steel wire, are typically used in agricultural applications for fencing or corralling livestock. They are available in various sizes and designs, offering flexibility in the construction of your greenhouse. 

When used for greenhouses, these panels are arched to create a curved frame, with side walls and a roof that offers ample vertical space for plants to thrive.

The simplicity of this design allows for easy assembly and disassembly, making it an attractive option for temporary or movable greenhouses. The cattle panel framework can be covered with greenhouse plastic or other durable materials to create a weather-resistant and insulated environment for plants to grow and flourish.

This protection is especially crucial during the winter months when outdoor conditions can be harsh and unpredictable.

The efficiency of a cattle panel greenhouse is highly dependent on proper planning and preparation. Choosing the right location is essential, as factors such as sunlight, drainage, and accessibility play a crucial role in the overall productivity and maintenance of the greenhouse.

Ideally, the greenhouse should be positioned to receive maximum exposure to natural sunlight while still being protected from strong winds and other adverse weather conditions. 

Building a solid foundation and having a clear plan in place is key to constructing a successful cattle panel greenhouse that lasts for many seasons.

By carefully selecting the appropriate materials and site location, as well as properly constructing and maintaining the greenhouse, these unique structures provide a protected and nurturing environment for plants to thrive even during the coldest winters.

cattle side view

Essentials for Building a Cattle Panel Greenhouse

To create a sturdy and functional structure, you’ll need to gather the right materials and follow a few key steps.

First, you’ll need to obtain cattle panels, which are the backbone of the greenhouse structure. These panels are made of durable galvanized steel and can be found at your local hardware store or farm supply center. The size and number of cattle panels you’ll need depend on the dimensions of your desired greenhouse.

In addition to cattle panels, you’ll need high-quality greenhouse plastic to cover your structure. This material should be UV-resistant and have a suitable thickness to withstand various weather conditions. Greenhouse plastic can also be found at your local hardware store or online.

To construct the frame of your cattle panel greenhouse, you’ll need a wood frame made from pressure-treated lumber. This type of wood offers greater resistance to rot and insects, ensuring your greenhouse can withstand the test of time.

Be sure to also pick up necessary hardware like screws, brackets, and hinges as required.

Once you have your cattle panels, greenhouse plastic, wood frame, and accompanying hardware, it’s time to start building. Determine the layout and dimensions for your greenhouse, and secure the wood frame in place.

It is essential to choose a level site that receives ample sunlight and has good drainage to provide the best conditions for your plants.

After you’ve prepared the site and secured your wood frame, attach the cattle panels to the frame, forming arcs or hoops. These will offer the necessary support for the greenhouse plastic and create a stable structure.

Finally, cover the cattle panel structure with your greenhouse plastic, ensuring it’s pulled taut and secure. Secure the plastic using clips or lumber strips to prevent damage from strong winds.

The total cost for this project will vary depending on the size of your greenhouse, local prices for materials, and additional supplies you may require.

However, building a cattle panel greenhouse is often far more affordable than purchasing a pre-fabricated structure, making it an attractive option for many growers.

greenhouse plastic

Step-By-Step Building Process

Building a cattle panel greenhouse is a straightforward process that can be accomplished with just a few basic materials and tools. Follow these steps to create your own durable and efficient greenhouse structure.

Begin by constructing the wood frame for your greenhouse. Measure and cut your lumber to create a rectangular base, as well as the vertical support posts and horizontal framing elements. Assemble the base and secure the vertical support posts at each corner using screws or nails. Add horizontal framing elements to connect the vertical posts, ensuring that they are spaced evenly to accommodate the cattle panels.

Next, lay out your cattle panels on the ground, ensuring they are properly aligned and spaced to fit within the wood frame. Cattle panels are a sturdy and cost-effective material for creating the arched shape of a greenhouse. They are typically made of galvanized steel and can be found at most agricultural supply stores.

Once your cattle panels are properly positioned, use duct tape to join the panels together along the edges, forming a continuous arch from one side of the frame to the other. This will create the main structure of your greenhouse and provide ample support for the plastic covering that will be added later.

After the arch is formed, use zip ties to attach the cattle panels to the wood frame. Be sure to space the zip ties evenly along the length of the panels, ensuring a secure connection between the frame and the panels.

Once the cattle panels are securely attached to the frame, it’s time to add the greenhouse covering. You can use greenhouse plastic, polyethylene film, or other similar materials for this purpose. 

Make sure to cut the plastic to size, allowing for a slight overlap on each side to ensure a complete seal. Attach the covering to the wood frame using staples, tacks, or nails. Be careful not to puncture or tear the plastic when securing it to the frame.

Finally, add any additional features you may desire, such as venting systems or doors. These can be incorporated into the wood frame or added as separate elements. 

Be sure to take proper precautions to ensure a tight seal around any openings, as this will help maintain the temperature and humidity levels within your greenhouse.

Creating Entrances and Exits

When constructing a cattle panel greenhouse, it is important to plan for entrances and exits that provide easy access for both people and equipment. 

Good entrances and exits ensure proper ventilation and temperature control within the greenhouse. There are several factors to consider when designing the doors for your greenhouse.

First and foremost, the size and type of the doors are crucial. For a standard cattle panel greenhouse, it is common to have one door at each end. Larger greenhouses may require double doors or multiple entries to facilitate better access and airflow. 

When choosing the material for your greenhouse doors, consider using wood or metal, both of which are sturdy options.

The location of your entrance should take into consideration the natural flow of traffic in and out of the greenhouse, including access to any machinery or equipment. 

Ideally, the door should face the most frequently used path, avoiding any obstructions.

Installing hinges on your greenhouse doors is important for both aesthetics and functionality. The door should be able to open fully, allowing enough space for people and equipment to pass through. 

Heavy-duty hinges are recommended to ensure durability and maintain the door’s integrity over time.

When constructing your greenhouse door, don’t forget to plan for proper ventilation. One effective method is to install vents above the door, allowing hot air to escape through the top of the greenhouse. 

Ventilation not only prevents overheating but also provides a pleasant environment for plants and people alike.

Finally, security measures should be implemented to prevent unauthorized entry. A simple lock can be installed on your greenhouse door to provide an additional layer of protection.

greenhouse hinge

Securing the Greenhouse

When building a cattle panel greenhouse, ensuring its structural stability is crucial in order to protect the plants from harsh weather conditions while also providing an affordable solution. 

One of the key factors to take into consideration is the ability of the greenhouse to withstand high winds.

To achieve this, you need to anchor the cattle panel structure securely to the ground. This can be done by attaching the bottom of the panels to a sturdy base, such as a 2×4 wooden frame or a concrete foundation. 

Using strong and durable materials for the base will add to the overall stability of the greenhouse.

Additionally, the wall design plays a significant role in withstanding weather conditions and providing structural stability. Some cattle panel greenhouses have 20-inch high wood walls, while others attach the panels directly to a 2×4 on the ground. 

Opting for a design with wood walls can lead to a taller greenhouse, offering more headroom and allowing better air circulation. This design choice can also make the structure heavier and less susceptible to wind damage.

Moreover, reinforcing the joints and connections in the greenhouse is crucial to ensure its overall stability. It is recommended to use brackets, screws, and metal plates to strengthen the connections between the cattle panel and the base.

Lastly, for further protection against high winds and other weather conditions, installing bracing along the greenhouse’s vertical and horizontal members can be beneficial. This added support will help distribute the forces evenly across the structure, making it more resistant to wind.

greenhouse screws

Adding Internal Components

When building a cattle panel greenhouse, you have to incorporate internal components that will help maximize the efficiency and productivity of the space. 

These components include shelving units, raised beds, compost bins, and cold frames. In this section, we will discuss how to add these elements to your greenhouse.

Shelving units are a practical addition to any greenhouse, as they provide space to store and display potted plants, seedlings, and gardening tools. They can be made from various materials, such as wood, plastic, or metal, and should be sturdy enough to support the weight of your plants and equipment. 

Position the shelving units to receive ample sunlight and make sure they are easily accessible for watering and maintenance tasks.

Incorporating raised beds into your cattle panel greenhouse is an excellent way to improve drainage and prevent soil compaction. Additionally, raised beds can help reduce the risk of pests and diseases attacking your plants. 

To create raised beds, build a wooden or metal frame and fill it with a mix of high-quality soil and compost. Ensure that the beds receive adequate sunlight and are spaced appropriately to promote air circulation.

Compost bins are a valuable addition to your cattle panel greenhouse, as they enable you to recycle organic waste and produce nutrient-rich compost for your plants. Locate the compost bin in an easily accessible spot, making sure it is not directly exposed to sunlight. 

Select a well-ventilated compost bin design and be mindful of the balance of green and brown materials to maintain a healthy composting process.

Cold frames are a versatile component that can extend the growing season and help protect delicate seedlings and plants from harsh weather conditions. To incorporate a cold frame into your cattle panel greenhouse, construct a small, enclosed area with a transparent top (such as glass or polycarbonate) to trap heat and sunlight. 

Position the cold frame to receive maximum sunlight exposure and ensure that it is properly insulated to maintain the desired temperature.

greenhouse raised beds

Covering Your Greenhouse

Covering your cattle panel greenhouse is an important step in its construction, as it helps create the optimal environment for plant growth. Choosing the right cover materials can make a significant difference in the greenhouse’s temperature regulation and light penetration. 

The most popular options for covering a cattle panel greenhouse include greenhouse plastic, shade cloth, and a combination of the two.

Greenhouse plastic is the most commonly used material for covering greenhouses due to its durability, affordability, and ability to transmit light effectively. A high-quality greenhouse plastic should be UV-resistant and have a lifespan of around 4-6 years. 

To install greenhouse plastic on your cattle panel greenhouse, measure and cut the plastic to fit the arched cattle panels, ensuring you have enough material to overlap on the sides and ends of the structure. 

Attach the plastic to your wooden foundation using staples, screws with washers, or snap clamps, starting from the base of one side and working your way up the arch to create a tight, secure cover.

In addition to greenhouse plastic, shade cloth can be used to provide additional temperature control and protect your plants from excessive sunlight. 

Shade cloth is available in different densities, blocking varying percentages of sunlight, and can be easily installed on top of your existing greenhouse plastic cover. 

To install shade cloth, simply drape it over the greenhouse and secure it with rope, bungee cords, or other fastening materials, ensuring it remains taut and evenly distributed.

For a customized solution that combines the benefits of both greenhouse plastic and shade cloth, consider integrating a shade cloth panel within the plastic cover during the initial installation process. 

This allows for better temperature control while maintaining excellent light penetration. To do this, attach the shade cloth panel to the cattle panels using zip ties before adding the greenhouse plastic layer, making sure that the shade cloth is in the desired position for optimal shading.

shade cloth

Utilizing Your Greenhouse

A cattle panel greenhouse can be an incredibly valuable addition to your garden, especially during the winter and spring seasons. By providing a controlled environment, the greenhouse allows you to extend your growing season and grow fresh greens, seedlings, and various plants even when the weather is not ideal.

One of the primary benefits of having a cattle panel greenhouse is the ability to grow seedlings earlier than you could outside. Starting your seedlings in the greenhouse ensures that they receive adequate heat and protection from harsh weather conditions, resulting in stronger, healthier plants. 

Additionally, your young plants can receive the proper care and attention they need in their delicate stages, increasing their chances of thriving when eventually transplanted into your garden.

During the winter months, a cattle panel greenhouse can be a game-changer by allowing you to grow fresh greens such as lettuce, kale, and spinach. With a bit of planning and organization, you can cultivate a steady supply of food that would typically be unavailable during this time. 

Furthermore, by having a consistent source of fresh greens, you can maintain a healthy and diverse diet straight from your garden.

On the other hand, spring gardening in a cattle panel greenhouse will not only give your seedlings a head start but also offer you an opportunity to experiment with different types of plants that might not survive in the open air. 

This can lead to a more diverse and vibrant garden when the warmer months arrive.

To maximize the efficiency of your cattle panel greenhouse, you may want to invest in additional tools and equipment such as heating systems, fans, or even an automated irrigation system. 

These additions can help stabilize temperature and humidity levels inside your greenhouse, improving the overall growing conditions for your plants.

seedlings in greenhouse

Benefits of a DIY Greenhouse

Building a DIY greenhouse using cattle panels offers numerous advantages for gardening enthusiasts. One of the primary reasons people opt to construct their own greenhouse is the cost savings. 

A DIY cattle panel greenhouse is an inexpensive option, especially when compared to the average cost of building a greenhouse, which can run nearly $14,000. By using readily available materials such as cattle panels, you can keep expenses to a minimum.

Another benefit of constructing a DIY greenhouse is that it allows you to grow your own food, providing a sense of self-sufficiency and control over the ingredients used in your meals. 

A greenhouse also enables you to extend the growing season for your plants, as it provides a controlled environment that protects them from harsh weather conditions.

Taking on a DIY project like building a cattle panel greenhouse not only saves you money, but also provides a rewarding learning experience. By constructing the greenhouse yourself, you gain valuable practical skills and knowledge that can be applied to other projects around your home or garden.

Moreover, building a greenhouse enables you to customize its design to your specific needs and preferences, ensuring it aligns with your gardening goals.

Cattle panel greenhouses are known for their durability and effectiveness in creating a suitable environment for plant growth. Their lightweight yet strong construction makes them a practical choice for many gardeners, while their affordability adds to their appeal. 

To build a cattle panel greenhouse, follow a few simple steps, such as choosing the right location, measuring and marking the area, securing the cattle panels, and adding insulation and ventilation as needed, as outlined in this guide.

wood for cattle panel greenhouse

Post-Creation Tips and Advice

After successfully building a cattle panel greenhouse, it’s essential to maintain and manage it effectively for optimal plant growth. 

A confident and knowledgeable gardener should ensure the greenhouse is of a manageable size, ideally choosing a small size, especially for those new to greenhouses.

Following the completion of the entire greenhouse, one of the key aspects to consider is proper ventilation. Adequate airflow is crucial for preventing excess heat buildup in the summer months and promoting healthy plant growth. 

Installing vents or automatic vent openers can vastly improve air circulation within the greenhouse structure.

Planning the planting schedule is another important aspect of managing a cattle panel greenhouse. An experienced gardener can start planting seeds as early as fall, providing plants with a head start for the upcoming growing season. 

Additionally, cold-hardy plants can thrive in the cool fall temperatures, while more delicate plants can be introduced during the warmer months of summer.

Monitoring pest control and disease prevention is vital for maintaining a healthy greenhouse environment. Regularly inspect plants for any signs of damage, insects, or disease, and act promptly to address any issues. 

Utilizing natural pest control methods, such as introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs, can help maintain a balanced ecosystem within the greenhouse.

In a well-maintained cattle panel greenhouse, a gardener can expect thriving plants and successful harvests. 

By taking into account these post-creation tips and advice, any greenhouse owner can effectively manage their plants while enjoying the rewarding process of nurturing them year-round.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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