Greenhouse - Geodesic Dome




Introduction: Greenhouse - Geodesic Dome

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Main idea behind this design is to make construction cheap & easy.

You would need:
Wooden laths (cheapest kind) - amount depending on how big you want the dome
Some-kind of pincers
Fence wire (soft)
Small clip/nail/clamp gun
Plastic film roll - about 8m x 2.5m
Some thread and anchors (bricks) for stabilization
Wide transparent tape
1-2liter Varnish & brush
Color sticky markers (for ease of construction)
Scissors / Cutting knife 

For window (x times how many you want):
Small Hinges x2
Wider wooden laths for covering gaps around border

For doors:
Small Hinges x 2 
Furniture magnets 1-3
Furniture metal corners x 8 (4 for doors, 4 for frame) 
Wider wooden laths for covering gaps around border
Some handle

Soil & seeds or plants

Total costs for me were about: 80 EUR = ~ 105 USD

Greenhouse has been standing well since beginning of the summer

Step 1: Cutting Wooden Laths

You would need to cut 3 types of wooden laths

For calculations I recommend to use this site (I built 5/8 size):

High precision is not necessary (+/- 5mm)

For example for 1.5m radius (that I had) you would need
A elements 0.522m x 30
B elements 0.605m x 90
C elements 0.618m x 120

You can tweak these numbers in order to get the most out of wooden laths that in my case came in about 2m length.

I advice you to write letter A, B, C with pencil on each stick and tie them together by groups.

I advice sawing trough 4 or more laths at once.
Sawing took for be about 3 hours of work.

Step 2: Drilling Wholes in Both Sides of Sticks

I advice to drill trough 3 or more sticks at once to make process faster.

In my case it took about 2 hours of work

Step 3:

Next using diagram & fence wire start tithing sticks together.

There are 2 types of shapes you would need to make:

Hexagons - with 6 C sticks
Pentagons - with 5 A sticks

All shared borders are B sticks  

Start building it upside-down with Pentagon in the middle.

Again precision is not that important at this point. If you mix something up it is relatively easy to take it apart and fix it.

I advice you to use color sticky markers in order to keep track of shapes.

Assembly of dome itself for me took about 3 hours

Step 4: Making Doors

Next you would need to turn structure to correct position sitting on bottom.

If the structure collapses its OK, because you would be able to straighten it out when it is standing.

When it is standing measure as precise as you can doorway and create sides of doors like in images to make frame.

Strengthen frame using metal corners on the corners of frame. It will also make sure it do not deform.

Step 5: Doors, Window and Varnish

Measure and create construction of doors (straighten them in corners with metal corners)
Keep in mind space for hinges and wider lathes around frame of doors (and places for magnets)

Measure and create window as triangle inside other chosen triangle. I strongly advice to have 2 or more windows because this dome-type greenhouse is very humid when it is finished.
You can see my window frame in one of the images below (in corner), but you can improvise your own version. I used thread to tie a handle for it (for use to hold it in open position when it is finished)

After construction varnish everything as well as you can (I advice at least 2 times with a time span in between to dry it), otherwise wood will rot very soon.

Let everything dry for couple of hours day

Step 6: Secure Plastic Film

Make sure it will not be windy day, because wind could blow whole project away like a sail.

Secure plastic film roll using clamp/nail/clamp gun (I do not know exact name of it in english - look in photo)

Start putting on plastic on doors, windows and then start from top to one side of the dome.

Try to secure plastic in pieces as large as possible so you do not need many cuts.

Shoot with gun clamps in wooden frame and streach plastic over. If it is not precise you can fold plastic in rolls that you can nail to frame as well.

Don't worry if there are some holes not covered. You can add cut-off pieces later at the end.

Step 7: Construct Outer Frames of Windows

Add wider wooden laths around frames of doors and windows like in pictures.

Add furniture magnets to doors and windows (if you wish). They work really good and I advice to add one to window as well.

Add handle to doors.

Add hinges to doors and windows and install them to the structure.

Add some extra plastic film around doors and window to avoid wind blowing trough the structure when it is not desirable. If you will have wind draft you could have giant sail in your garden.

Step 8:

Get ready spot for greenhouse (you can measure radius with a string)

Dig out grass around radius and put on new soil.

Dig holes for anchors and get thread and bricks/rocks to construct them.

Next you should be able to pick up whole structure from inside and move it over the new spot. Hold it by the frame.

When you place it on the spot you can arrange disrupted parts and secure it with anchors.

Step 9: Planting

From my experience of growing plants:

Plant fewer plants rather many together - in the end you will have better harvest
Use some organic fertilizer
If you plant tomatoes make sure the soil is right and you have very good ventilation, because they like more air than humid air.

Things that grow well in this kind of greenhouse:
- radishes
- salads
- peppermints & other kind of spices
- tomatoes
- paprika

My plan for next year is to build autonomous ventilation and irrigation system using Arduino or something like that. 

You could also build inside some white led lights to have glowing dome in night time.

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    8 years ago

    Do you think I could use this design for the structure to build an igloo? would the plastic hold the weight?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    To hold weight of snow you will need stronger connections than holes and metal wire otherwise it will probably pop structure inwards. Wooden sticks might hold snow and plastic might not be necessary if snow is sticky enough.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, great instructable. Just about to build one, and I noticed that you have the numbers wrong. I think you mean for a 5/8 size:
    A elements - 30
    B elements - 55
    C elements - 80
    Otherwise we would be building a complete sphere, which would be cool, but difficult to grow plants in.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    The devil in dome construction often relates to the strut securing! I've a variation that uses bamboo slid into black garden irrigation hose offcuts. These are (single) gutter bolted at the hose overlaps -the structure is both rigid & quickly dismantled for storage. I'll rustle up an Instructable if interested- the approach particularly suits kids!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    wonderful idea! elegant, too. thanx


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Super job on the Instructable. Looking forward to the Arduino project. Thank you for sharing.


    8 years ago on Step 9

    Nice instructible- - only recommendation I would make would be to use redwood, cedar or pvc for the spars. With the work involved, it would be worth the small extra expense in the longer life it would give to the structure.


    8 years ago

    this looks like a great idea, although I am worried about any type of strong winds or heavy rain or hail. in harsher climates I might go with boxed aluminum or stronger with a heavier material for the structure. for larger green houses, a rectangular shape might be best for space allocation... ie co2 burner, circulation system, sprinkler etc.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Props to ya for doing this on the cheap. sure others have more ideas, but where's theirs? I don't know tho, I haven't seen the old fashioned lathe available around here for a very long time. Might have to find a substitute. There is also a heavier grade, clear plastic that would work great, but costs more, of course. I guess a guy could take this idea to the extreme, and really build it solid and functional, but gotta give ya props for not only doing it like you did, but making a good instructable too.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Methinks we'll be having tomatoes next year. GREAT instructable!


    8 years ago

    This looks so cool. one other possibility might be using stiff pvc piping. You know the stuff you can put a good curve in but it don't kink. Put holes in 1 end of all. Cable tie together and spread out kinda like the support beam thingies on a brollie. I think it would work well as already rust/rot proof and holes in bottom of poles would allow a stake through for anchoring.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The problem with pvc is that it warps inside the greenhouse--even in the north of Spain where I live, where temperatures never get above 35C. One book I have describes making a hoop greenhouse with pcv used as a sleeve and rebar inside for strength--obviously with a diameter that allows it to flex into hoops. This was the grey stuff for water, and also the black high pressure grade.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I like your mod. idea and cable ties are my friend frankly I made a chain link fence once and used cable ties instead of the metal ties it worked so amazingly well and I literally "zipped" trough it!... The smallest PVC made would be nice and strong and still light thing though appears he used staples from a staple gun to secure the plastic to the frame... Do you have some cool idea knocking around about how to secure the plastic to the frame?
    This would be great for starting tomatoes early outside where I live! The perfect green house and then super easy to move off of them later once frost is not an issue.