3 Best Backyard DIY Greenhouse Kits | High Tunnels for Growing Your Own Food

Food shortages, shipping issues, and wildfires occurring in parts of the country where food production is supposed to be reliable...  These issues, and others we haven't even gotten into, means that  NOW is a great time to get the best backyard greenhouse

Having the independence of growing your own food, and the security of being able to grow year-round, is what makes having a high quality backyard growing structure so important.

What Makes a Great Backyard Growing Structure

A backyard greenhouse will allow you to start your own seedlings, grow food earlier and later into the season, and  provide more security and independence when it comes to what you’re putting on your dinner plate.

There are a ton of options for home-growers to choose from when selecting a growing structure. We have found that all of the best options tend to have some very key features as a part of their design. Here is a rundown on the most important attributes to backyard greenhouses:

  • Durability: They can withstand heavy snow, rain, and wind.
  • Versatility: They can serve more than one function including starting seedlings on benches, planting in the ground, hanging flower baskets, trellising, and serve as a year round storage place.
  • Season extension capabilities: They can be adjusted to moderate temperature fluctuations throughout the entire year and protect plants from harsh weather allowing you to grow earlier in the spring and later into the fall.
  • Appropriate size: They can fit in your backyard without being unsightly, do it yourself compatible, and still maximizes your food production square footage.

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If you can select a structure that takes all of the attributes above into consideration, you are securing a reliable planting space. This will allow you to enjoy the fruits of your labor throughout the entire year.

Our Best Backyard Greenhouse High Tunnels Are...

Taking the key attributes we mention above into consideration, below we provide three different structures that would work great for backyard growers with varying space requirements:

Best Gardener Model: 10ft. wide by 12 ft. long backyard greenhouse high tunnel

Best Home-grower Model: 14.5 ft. wide by 20 ft. long backyard greenhouse high tunnel

Best Homesteader Model: 17ft. wide by 32ft. long backyard greenhouse high tunnel

While the length of these structures is stated above, any of the widths could be provided in any required length as long as it is an increment of 4 ft. (this is the spacing on the bows). So, if you require a structure that is 4 ft. or 32 ft. longer than the listed lengths above, just shoot us an email at info@tunnelvisionhoops.com and we can supply a price for that specific unit. 

Comparison Table of Our Favorite Backyard Models

Below is a comparison table of the best backyard greenhouse high tunnels. These are all great options, but the table below can provide more details as far as how they differ from a structural perspective. 

Picture Model Size Tube Diameter Best For

10 ft. wide x 12 ft. long
1.315" OD Gardeners

14.5 ft. wide x 20 ft. long
1.66" OD Advanced Grower

17 ft. wide x 32 ft. long
1.66" OD Homesteader
&
Market Gardener

The table above provides a good side-by-side for what our backyard models look like. While they are all different in appearance, the assembly process for each is relatively the same for each. That is to say - all of the DIY Kits have very similar order of operations. 

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If you want to get a quick run-down on each of the models in the table above, you can scroll down further to get the specs and details on each featured structure. 

The Best Gardener Model: 10ft. wide by 12ft. long backyard greenhouse high tunnel

The Gardener Model is a perfect option for those active gardeners that have less space available to them. For growers with a small yard or an urban setting, a small structure might make the most sense. If this describes you, than this 10 ft. wide structure might just be the best option. 

Features of the 10 ft. Wide Greenhouse

Any structure used for season extension needs to be able to handle inclement weather... If you are thinking of purchasing a backyard structure that looks like it will get smashed in the first snow, it likely isn't worth purchasing

For this 10 ft. wide backyard greenhouse, there are numerous design elements that protect it from the elements. Here are some of the major design features that protect this structure from the elements:

  • Galvanized Steel Bows and Anchors: With 1.315" outer diameter bows spaced every four feet, the structure can better disperse snow weight than other structures with wider bow spacing. Both the anchors and bows are comprised of galvanized steel, which does not rust, and is heavier than aluminum alternatives. 
  • Galvanized Steel End-Wall Framing: Not only are the bows and anchors steel, but this DIY Kit includes steel framed end-wall packages. The steel is 2" x 2" and it is galvanized to eliminate rusting. Having a metal framed end-wall goes a long way in providing strength to a structure, but it will also last MUCH longer than lumber... and it doesn't warp like lumber does over time.  
  • Corner Braces: Steel angled braces at each corner of the structure keep the end-walls plumb during construction and protect the structure as a whole against wind. 
  • Metal Baseboards, Hip-rails, and purlin: Unlike many other DIY Kits on the market, this structure comes with metal baseboards, hip-rails, and a purlin. While other options suggest the customer buys lumber locally, this unit comes with non-rusting long lasting structural elements that provide additional wind protection. 
  • Greenhouse Plastic: All greenhouse plastic is included for the assembly of this structure; end-wall plastic and top cover plastic are included, and it is the 4 year 6 mil IRAD material for additional heat retention and reduction of interior dripping from humidity. 
  • Roll-up Sides: Ventilate your backyard greenhouse high tunnel more efficiently (and without electricity) using the roll-up side system that comes with all of these structures. Not only do the sides roll-up, but an anti-billow rope system (included) keeps the sides close to the structure to prevent its movement in the wind. 
  • Personnel Door: Not only does a door come with this kit, but it is easy to install because it is a pre-hung door. This means you simply frame where the door goes, and screw it in to the rough opening and install the lock-set. 

Whether looking for a robust starter greenhouse to extend the season, or wanting to have a compact space for seed starting, this 10 ft. wide growing structure is worth considering. You can get more specs, see more pictures, and learn how to request a quote here:  10 ft. wide backyard greenhouse high tunnel.

Who is Our 10 ft. Wide Structure Perfect For?

There are endless ways you can use a high tunnel for food production. While this structure is a on the smaller size of our available options, here are some of the uses it is ideal for:

  • Seed starting since it has efficient dimensions for supplemental heating.
  • Just the right amount of in-ground plants to enjoy with your family - plan early tomatoes, and get year-round salad greens.
  • Because it is a small size it is good for those wanting a high quality structure for a less costly price.

Whether looking for a robust starter greenhouse to extend the season, or wanting to have a compact space for seed starting, this 10 ft. wide growing structure is worth considering. You can get more specs, see more pictures, and learn how to request a quote here: 10 ft. wide backyard greenhouse high tunnel.

Best Home-grower Model: 14.5 ft. wide by 20 ft. long backyard greenhouse high tunnel

The Best Home-grower Model is the right option for a larger family or gardeners looking to scale-up. While it is still a smaller greenhouse high tunnel it also provides just enough additional width to provide one or two more rows of growing space. 

In addition to the square footage of growing space, the structure also has more volume than some of the more narrow options. This additional volume can help keep it warmer through the cold evenings. After all... the more volume has been heated the longer it will take for that heat to dissipate. 

Main Specifications of the 14.5 ft. Wide Greenhouse

While the 14.5 ft. wide structure has almost all of the same benefits as its smaller 10 ft. wide structure, there are a few things that make this structure a slight upgrade to its more narrow cousin. 

Here are the ways this 14.5 ft. wide structure is a step-up from the smaller model:

  • Larger diameter tubing: This structure has larger diameter bows and anchors. This means that foot-for-foot the framing for this structure is a bit stronger. 
  • This structure has a gothic (peaked) profile: The design of this structures' bows are intended to help snow fall off of it. With a peak that comes to a point, this structure is better suited for climates that receive more snow. 
  • Taller height to the peak: The 14.5 ft. wide model has a 9 ft. 4" peak height; this means the 14.5 ft. wide model provides for an extra 1 ft. 4 inches of peak height when compared to the 10 ft. wide model. 
  • Additional wind braces: This structure comes with all the standard bracing (just like the 10 ft. wide model), but due to its additional width there are three full length purlins that come with this unit, as opposed to the single purlin that comes with the 10 ft. wide unit. Purlins are steel members that run the full length of the structure that attach to each end and every bow they make contact with... they help with wind. 
  • The structure is a peaked gothic style: This offers better utilization of interior space. Peaked style also offers increased snow slippage to maintain sun exposure in the colder months.

Who is This Structure Perfect For?

If you are an experienced home-grower looking to take your gardening to the next level this structure might be the best fit. Really, the 14.5 ft. wide high tunnel provides more space which would be ideal for large families, or for those home gardeners playing with the idea of starting to sell some of their extra crops.  

The mid-size unit also tends to be great for getting earlier spring plantings and late fall harvests in greater abundance. This has to do with its additional square footage along each side. 

This size structure might also be great for those looking to grow a wider variety of crops; the 14.5 ft. wide mode allows for a greater plant variation, and could also support bouquet-quantity flower production .

While the 14.5 ft. wide model is a bit costlier than the 10 ft. wide model, there are numerous benefits this structure adds to plant productivity and structural integrity that should be taken into consideration when selecting your backyard growing model. If you want to view ALL of the specs for this structure, and learn how to request a quote, you can get more details here:  14.5 ft. wide x 20 ft. long backyard high tunnel

Best Homesteader Model: 17ft. wide by 32ft. long backyard greenhouse high tunnel

This model is ideal for those interested in increasing their protected growing space for intentional food security, or for those beginning their journey into commercial production. While providing ample peak height, and the best vertical growing possibilities of all the models we discuss in this post, this structure has tons of benefits, but could still work in a backyard with limited space. 

Main Features of the 17 ft. Wide Greenhouse

While all of the backyard greenhouse high tunnels include the same general step-by-step installation process, the 17 ft. wide model is a backyard structure with just a few more major upgrades. Its width dictates that additional bracing for wind and snow be included.

Here are some of the main features of our 17 ft. wide models that set them apart from the smaller models covered in this post:

  • Large diameter tubing: The bows are comprised of 1.66" outer diameter galvanized steel tubing, and the anchors are comprised of 1.90" outer diameter galvanized steel tubing.
  • Available with 4 ft. or 6 ft. sidewalls: Unlike the smaller models, the 17 ft. wide structure is available with 4 ft. or 6 ft. sidewalls. Taller sidewalls provide easier movement around the structure perimeter. 
  • Peak height of either 10 ft. 2 in. or 12 ft. 2 in.: The peak height is dictated by the sidewall height. If you opt for a 6 ft. sidewall structure it will increase the overall height of your structure. For those wanting to grow vertically, this additional space could be invaluable. 
  • Includes Truss Rafters: To help protect against snow and wind, this structure comes with truss rafters on ALL interior bows. While these rafters help brace the structure they are also great to use for trellising or hanging baskets off of. 
  • Includes Additional Peak Bracing: Due to the higher peak height, these structures have been fitted with additional end-wall bracing near the peak of each end-wall. These help protect against high winds. 
  • Has a Peaked Gothic Profile: The peaked nature of this structures' profile helps snow shedding. This means there will be less winter maintenance (and worry) with this type of growing structure. 
  • Comes with end-wall ventilation: Not all backyard greenhouses are large enough to easily accommodate additional ventilation on their end-walls. With the 17 ft. wide structure, there is space for a standard aluminum shutter that auto-opens and closes without electricity. This also means upgrades to thermostatically controlled exhaust fans are possible. 

This Structure Has Truss Rafters on All Interior Bows

I mention above that this structure comes with truss rafters on all interior bows. While many readers might know exactly what these are I thought it might make sense to also provide a picture of a truss and the truss supports accompany them. Here is an example of the truss and truss support units:

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Having the trusses on all interior bows really goes a long way in providing additional structural strength to the system. And if you are looking at the picture above and wondering if trusses and truss supports are really necessary for the structure, the answer is yes... if you want some additional insurance against snow and wind. 

Who is This Structure Perfect For?

The 17 ft. wide model is great for those addicted to gardening, homesteaders needing reliable winter plant protection, and small commercial growers with limited space. With the truss and truss supports we mention above, we also feel that the 17 ft. wide model is the best for backyard gardeners looking for more vertical growing space. The trusses really do provide ample space for hanging pots, running trellises for tomatoes and cukes, and more. 

In short, the 17 ft. wide model: 

  • Has all the best features of a gothic style while remaining a compact structure.
  • Allows you to grow different crops for a longer period of time, which will provide for better crop diversity throughout the year.

If you are getting excited for the possibilities our 17 ft. wide high tunnel can provide, you can get the full list of specifications and learn how to request a quote here: 17 ft. wide x 32 ft. long backyard high tunnel.

Things to Remember Before Buying a Backyard Greenhouse

If you're in the market for a backyard greenhouse system remember the attributes that make a great backyard growing structure. The goals are to get a structure with the ability to provide a successful growing environment for years to come. 

Here are four important things to look for in ANY backyard greenhouse:

  1. Durability
  2. Versatility
  3. Season extension capabilities
  4. Scalable size

Each of the models outlined in this post have longevity and strength built-into their design. This could provide you with an outstanding protected growing environment for many years of dependable growing.  Select the model that fits your needs, knowing you are selecting the best. If you are interested in a quote on any backyard structure you can send us a contact form or call us at (833) 886-6351.


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