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7 Reasons to Build a Cattle Panel Greenhouse

Shade cloth in greenhouse

I love and adore all styles of greenhouses. They’re beautiful, functional spaces that give us some control over our growing environment.

Mini greenhouses, polycarbonate/metal kits, hoop houses, cattle panel greenhouses, lean-to's, geodesic domes, greenhouses made from recycled windows, custom wood designs, and Victorian glass houses – well, I’d take any of these at any time! Did I miss any styles?!

This is all to say, whatever style you have or would like to have, is awesome. I have a cattle panel greenhouse because it was a good choice for me and my situation. And because I love the charm of greenhouses, I try to make it as aesthetically charming as possible. It makes me happy.

I’d like to share with you the reasons why I have a cattle panel greenhouse. Many of us do a lot of research about greenhouses before deciding what type to go with, and some of my reasons might resonate with you. I hope this will give you helpful information to use when making your decision. (I’ll also talk about what I think the downsides are!)

7 Reasons to Build a Cattle Panel Greenhouse

  1. It’s inexpensive to build. Cost is a pretty high consideration for most of us, and cattle panel greenhouses can be built for about $300-$600. It’s going to depend on what materials you use, and what you already have. You can get the cost down even lower if that’s your goal.

  2. It’s a one-person job. If you are going to be building this on your own, it’s doable.

  3. It doesn’t require prior building skills or knowledge. The design is simple enough that you can do this even if you’ve never built anything before. And it’s forgiving enough that it doesn’t require perfect cuts or perfect construction. Before you start, you’ll want to get comfortable with a drill and a couple of other things, and you can watch more about that in this YouTube video. (Side note: Undertaking the project will give you a great confidence boost and new skills!)

  4. It can be moveable and temporary, and it doesn’t need a foundation. If you anticipate needing to move your greenhouse in the future, or you just want a temporary structure, this is a good option. Note that if it’s built with a fairly substantial wood frame like mine, it will be heavy and it will take several people to move it. And while it doesn’t need a foundation (mine doesn’t have one), you may want to consider it if you’re in a high wind area.

  5. It can be expanded at any time. Let’s face it, we fill our greenhouses to the brim and no one ever has enough greenhouse space 😂. My greenhouse is 8’x12’ and if you research cattle panel greenhouses you’ll come across several that are 24’ to 36’ long. I could easily extend my greenhouse at any time by adding another length of wall, more cattle panels, and more plastic.

  6. It’s very heavy and sturdy. If it's like mine, with solid wood short walls, it's super heavy. I’ve heard from someone whose cattle panel greenhouse survived 75mph winds with no issues. Again, if you’re in a high wind area, you might want a foundation and you might want some windbreaks, but it’s going to hold up well.

  7. It can be made from recycled materials. You’ll want to purchase greenhouse plastic, but other than that it can be built with things you might already have.

It’s a nice list of reasons isn’t it? Let’s round this out by talking about some of the downsides.

5 Downsides

  1. The plastic will need replaced every 4-5 years. The UV resistant material in the plastic doesn’t last forever, so the plastic will need to come off and new plastic put on.

  2. It doesn’t have a traditional greenhouse look. While a cattle panel greenhouse can be adorable and charming, it will never look like a traditional greenhouse.

  3. There is no roof vent. Greenhouses can easily overheat and need ventilation to keep that from happening. Roof vents are the best way to do this since hot air rises, but I’ve yet to see a roof vent on a cattle panel greenhouse. Instead, we rely on two openings to create a cross-breeze and we roll the plastic up a little on the sides. (If you see a cattle panel greenhouse with a roof vent, send it to me!)

  4. It has curved walls which means there’s a little less room for plants on the side walls. I take this as a challenge to see what I can build to help me squeeze more in. 😀

  5. It can’t handle the same snow load as a framed structure. The cattle panels are very strong and I’ve had several inches of snow sitting on my greenhouse for about a week; it can take a good amount of snow. But as someone rightly pointed out, it may have trouble if it sits under multiple feet of snow for weeks or months at a time.

And there you have it, the pros and cons of cattle panel greenhouses. Would you add anything to either of these lists?



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