HOW TO BUILD A GEODESIC DOME GREENHOUSE w/ SMART CAPABILITIES
When looking for a greenhouse that was large enough to grow plenty of vegetables but didn't cost a fortune, there wasn't really an off the shelf option. Particularly as my wife wanted something that looked attractive so polytunnels were not an option. I began exploring diy possibilities and fell in love with a futuristic, eden project inspired geodesic dome.
A geodesic greenhouse was just what I needed. The lack of foundations allows the dome to be portable or temporary, we didn't get any permits as it is a moveable structure. But … How does a person build one? What materials are needed? How do I design my specific design? What tools do I need? How do I put it together?
This project would also be great for other applications. Some examples I have see are:
- Chicken coop - use chicken wire instead of plastic
- Childrens play area - can be a fun project to collect sticks and build together
- Plant Tresseling
- Glamping tents - replace plastic with fabric
- Modern art!
- Garden feature.... and many more!
Step 1: MATERIALS YOU NEED TO BUILD IT
Wood. We utilized untreated spruce wood, and recolored it before construction, the amount you need depends on the size you are constructing.
Screws, varied amounts and sizes needed depending on your size.
Covering. We utilized greenhouse plastic that was given to us from a local business nursery, since there isn't such a great amount of weight on it, and it can last another 3-5 years. You can also cover the greenhouse with nursery film, contract film, or polycarbonate boards. You could also leave the panels empty to build a nice play area or rose tressels. If you are unable to source recycled plastic it can be purchased in rolls on the internet for very little money.
Connectors. Although this isn't the original way I constructed my dome, this is by far the better method and I have since used it to build a new dome at a new house. Geodesic Dome Kit - It is far easier and costs very similar, one kit should be sufficient for any size.
All these parts cost less than £250 in total so far cheaper than any other greenhouse on the market at a similar size. This price could be reduced if you already have wood and screws!
Step 2: WORKING OUT THE SIZE
Once you have decided the diameter you would like your dome to be, working out the dimensions for the wood is straight forward. Visit: https://buildwithhubs.co.uk/stickguide.html and input the desired diameter in mm.
(note, the maximum recommended diameter for this kit is 5.5m. Any larger and stronger connectors will need to be used)
The calculator gives you 2 wood lengths and the number of pieces of each length you need. You can use varied thicknesses of wood for this project however larger pieces will need to be tapered at the end, and may be too heavy to be structurally sound.
Step 3: PREPARING THE WOOD
Once you have measured and cut the wood to size you can either leave it as is, or treat it for outdoors use to improve durability. As my wood was raw I wanted to apply a protective finish.
I used Barrettine Wood Protective Treatment as it is what I had lying around. It comes in a range of colours and a 5L can was more than enough. It is also possible to use PVC pipes or other alternatives instead of wood to give a different effect.
Step 4: CONSTRUCTING THE DOME
Constructing the dome is a breeze with the hub kit. As shown in the image (Souce: Kickstarter.com) you simply screw the ball joints into your wood and pop them into the connectors. With two people I managed to build my own dome in under half an hour!
Step 5: COVERING THE GEODESIC GREENHOUSE
Covering the greenhouse was a bit more difficult. To create a clean look I used a staple gun to mount the plastic to our wood and instead of covering large pieces in sheets I individually covered each triangle to allow for high tension.
The main problem was individual staples would tear out when under tension, to stop this I mounted the plastic with staples all around without tension to hold it in place and then gradually removed them and replaced with further staples putting the plastic under more tension.
Step 6: FINISHING TOUCHES
Finally I had a completely covered dome. The final steps to construction were building a door and some raised beds. The door was made by setting it back into the dome a foot so it could be flush with its top triangle. To mount it I cut two structural triangles of plywood one inch thick and added hinges to the sides.
There are alternative methods to creating a door such as removing the plastic from one section, however my method worked best for us. I build raised beds using the same wood as the main frame and some planks left lying around. The beds were then lined with plastic similar to how you would any other raised bed. I used the leftover plastic from the frame for mine!
Tutorials on how to construct raised beds like mine can be found on the internet.
Step 7: DIY MAKING IT SMART
I haven't got around to constructing this yet however it is in the works. The overhanging frame creates perfect mounting points for a simple PVC irrigation system. I will use this instructable as a guideline as I am unfamiliar with PVC pipes! Rainwater-drip-irrigation-system.
The plastic sheeting absorbs sunlight excellently and slight opaqueness disperses the light evenly over plants creating a non harsh lighting environment. However during winter sunlight will not provide enough light and warmth. As a result I am using the frame to mount a series of GROW LIGHT LED strips and a standard greenhouse heater to provide the ideal growing environment.
Step 8: LAST BUT NOT LEAST!
I have entered this build into the BACKYARD CONTEST so if you liked it then please vote for it so I can continue to develop the design!
This is an entry in the
Laurie and Alex. made it!