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Using cattle panels, we constructed a large, inexpensive greenhouse to use as a cold frame for our winter garden and to sow seedlings in the spring.

How We Built a Greenhouse Using Cattle Panels

It is finally complete!

My parents homestead officially has a greenhouse! A cattle panel greenhouse to be exact. It has been a dream, several years in the making, to build a greenhouse to extend our growing season year-around.

Why did it take awhile to get the greenhouse up and running? The answer to that question would be research, cost and time. Just google greenhouse and you can spend hours researching through a surplus of search results.When building a greenhouse there are so many factors to consider, let alone the variety of options you can choose from. Sizing. Insulation. Position. Venting. Do you build it yourself, hire a contractor, purchase a used one or grab a kit online?

Talk about analysis paralysis.

The next item to consider was the expense of building a greenhouse. Did you know that the average cost of building a greenhouse is nearly $14,000? Wowee! Guess it’s time to break the piggy bank. Or start a bake sale to raise funds.

Lastly, time played an important roll in considering which route to select when building the greenhouse. If we decided to build it ourselves, we’d need to find the time to do so. And I don’t know about you but an average day on the homestead is already booked with many duties — gardening, tending to the livestock, harvesting, preserving, cooking, cleaning … so the thought of another task tacked onto the list was a little daunting.

After much consideration and watching an encouraging video from Homestead Heart, my family decided to build a greenhouse using cattle panels. This was a significantly cheaper alternative to many store bought greenhouses plus it checked off all the boxes on our greenhouse wishlist.

Why Build a Cattle Panel Greenhouse?

The biggest draw to building a greenhouse using cattle panels is the low cost. But we also chose to build this type because:

  • Cattle panels are strong, sturdy and durable.
  • If we ever disassemble the greenhouse we could easily use the panels in another project such as a trellis in the garden.
  • Since we are novice greenhouse builders, using cattle panels made the construction simple.
  • The small size of the greenhouse is perfect for our winter and spring garden. It would not be ideal if we wanted to be market gardeners or needed to grow an enormous amount of food for a large family.
  • Many greenhouses are large and permanent. The cattle panel greenhouse we created is a manageable size that can easily be pulled around by a lawn mower, should the need to move it ever arise.

Watch Video Tutorial

Our DIY Greenhouse

My Dad, a very talented carpenter, drew up the plans for the greenhouse build. The project was to be 8.5 feet by 20 feet with a budget of $500. After grabbing several cattle panels at our local Tractor Supply store, we headed to the hardware shop to get supplies to build the frame. 

Using some 2’ by 6’ and 2’ by 4’ pine boards, we secured the bottom of the frame together. Next, we bent 5 cattle panels into the ledge that we created, attaching them to the wood frame with cable staples. To make the panels secure and uniform, we zip tied them together.

For ventilation, we used a vintage door in the front and installed a free window we got from a friend in the back of the greenhouse. Pipe installation was added to the top of the panels to prevent the greenhouse plastic from tearing.

Lastly, we pulled the plastic the panels and secured them to the wood framework. The total cost of building the cattle panel greenhouse was less than $500.

What Can You Use a Cattle Panel Greenhouse For?

A cattle panel greenhouse can be used for year-around gardening. You can either plant your seeds into the ground or add shelving units to the inside of the facility to grow seedlings. This fall we plan to use the greenhouse as a cold frame. We planted seeds directly into the ground so that we can enjoy fresh greens throughout the frigid winter months.

Come spring time, we will set shelving and place containers full of seedlings to get a head start on the growing season.

If you plan to use your cattle panel greenhouse as a cold frame during the winter, here are some great cold hardy plants you can grow.

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cilantro
  • Claytonia
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Some onion varieties (such as leeks or green onions)
  • Parsley
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Tatsoi

What Else Can You Build With Cattle Panels?

There are plenty of uses for cattle panels, other than keeping your livestock contained. I’ve heard of people using them to build dog houses, chicken coops and compost bins. This past summer, my parents used the panels as a giant garden trellis for their cucumbers. It was quite fun walking through a tunnel of cukes in the middle of the garden.

Overall, we are thrilled with the way the project turned out. If you are looking for a budget friendly build, consider creating a greenhouse with cattle panels.

With food shortages on the rise, there is a growing need to increase food security for you and your family. Learn how to grow your own food and improve food security by adding a small greenhouse to your property.

Not ready to build an entire greenhouse just yet? Try building a cold frame. Learn how we built a 19th century style cold frame here.

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