Shipping Container Greenhouse

on September 22, 2023

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The concept of a shipping container greenhouse represents a novel and sustainable approach to modern farming and gardening. Essentially, it involves converting shipping containers, typically used for transporting goods across oceans and continents, into fully functional and efficient greenhouse environments. This innovative technique allows individuals to cultivate a wide variety of plants and crops throughout the year, regardless of external weather conditions. This article explores the world of shipping container greenhouses, shedding light on what they are, their numerous benefits, and the step-by-step process of turning a shipping container into a productive greenhouse.

What is a Shipping Container Greenhouse?

A shipping container greenhouse can be defined as a modified shipping container that has been repurposed to serve as a controlled environment for plant growth. This transformation typically includes adjustments and alterations to the container structure to accommodate ventilation, insulation, and, in some cases, plumbing and electrical systems. These modifications turn a standard container into a versatile and functional greenhouse that can house a wide range of crops, making it an attractive option for both urban gardeners and small-scale farmers.

Benefits of Using Shipping Containers for Greenhouses

Choosing a shipping container as the foundation for a greenhouse offers several compelling advantages:

  1. Durability: Shipping containers are renowned for their robustness, designed to withstand the harshest environmental conditions. They can resist rust, extreme temperatures, and even strong winds, ensuring your greenhouse stands the test of time.
  2. Mobility: One of the standout features of containers is their portability. Container greenhouses can be relocated as needed, making them an ideal choice for urban gardeners with limited space or those who might need to move their growing operations.
  3. Controlled Environment: Shipping container greenhouses provide precise control over critical variables such as temperature, humidity, and lighting. This level of control results in optimal growing conditions and extended growing seasons.
  4. Space Efficiency: Containers come in various sizes, from the standard 20 and 40 feet lengths to smaller and larger options. This versatility allows you to choose the container size that best matches your available space and intended use, maximizing the use of your land or property.
  5. Sustainability: Repurposing shipping containers for greenhouses is an environmentally responsible practice. It reduces waste by giving new life to materials that might otherwise go to waste and aligns with sustainable farming and gardening practices.

How to Turn a Shipping Container Into a Greenhouse

The process of transforming a shipping container into a fully functional greenhouse involves several essential steps. Ensuring these steps are executed properly is crucial to creating a productive and efficient growing space.

1. Choosing the Right Shipping Container

  • Size and Dimensions: The initial consideration when embarking on a shipping container greenhouse project is selecting the appropriate container size. Standard shipping containers typically come in lengths of 20 or 40 feet, although other sizes are available. The choice of container size should align with both the available space and your greenhouse's intended use.
  • Condition and Quality: Before proceeding, it's vital to inspect the chosen shipping container for any damage or rust. Starting with a structurally sound container will help avoid complications during the conversion process and ensure the longevity of your greenhouse.

2. Preparing the Site

  • Location Selection: The location of your shipping container greenhouse is a critical decision. It should receive adequate sunlight throughout the day and be positioned in an area with proper drainage to prevent waterlogging. Additionally, you must be aware of local building codes and regulations that may apply to greenhouse placement.
  • Foundation and Placement: Shipping containers require a stable foundation, which can take the form of a concrete pad, piers, or a combination of both. Proper placement ensures the greenhouse is level and secure, preventing potential issues in the future.

3. Insulating and Ventilating the Container

  • Insulation Materials: Effective insulation is essential for maintaining a consistent internal temperature in your greenhouse. Common insulation materials include foam boards, fiberglass, or spray foam insulation. The choice of insulation material should align with your climate and specific needs.
  • Ventilation Options: Ventilation is crucial for controlling temperature and humidity within the greenhouse. You have various options, including roof vents, side vents, and exhaust fans. The choice of ventilation method depends on factors such as the container's size and layout.

By following these initial steps, you'll establish a strong foundation for the subsequent stages of creating a fully functional and productive shipping container greenhouse. With the right container and thorough preparation, you can proceed with customizing your greenhouse to meet your specific gardening or farming requirements.


1. What is a shipping container greenhouse?

A shipping container greenhouse is a modified shipping container that has been transformed into a controlled environment for plant growth. It provides a versatile and efficient space for cultivating a wide variety of crops year-round.

2. What size container should I choose for my greenhouse?

The choice of container size depends on your available space and intended use. Standard containers come in 20 or 40-foot lengths, but other sizes are available. Select a size that matches your needs while maximizing your space efficiently.

3. How do I prepare the site for a shipping container greenhouse?

Select a location that receives ample sunlight and ensures proper drainage. You must also consider local building codes and regulations. The container needs a stable foundation, typically a concrete pad or piers, to ensure it is level and secure.

4. Can I move a shipping container greenhouse once it's set up?

Yes, one of the advantages of using shipping containers is their portability. You can relocate your greenhouse as needed, making it suitable for those with changing gardening or farming needs.

5. How long does it take to convert a shipping container into a functional greenhouse?

The time required for conversion can vary depending on factors like the container's condition, the extent of modifications, and your experience with construction projects. On average, it may take several weeks to complete the conversion.

6. What can I grow in a shipping container greenhouse?

You can grow a wide range of plants and crops in a shipping container greenhouse, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, and even small fruit trees. The controlled environment allows for year-round cultivation of various species.

7. Are shipping container greenhouses cost-effective?

While there are initial costs associated with purchasing and converting a shipping container, the long-term benefits, including extended growing seasons and reduced environmental impact, can make them cost-effective for serious gardeners and small-scale farmers.

8. Can I customize the design of my shipping container greenhouse?

Absolutely! The design possibilities for shipping container greenhouses are versatile. You can tailor the greenhouse layout, insulation, and ventilation to suit your specific needs and preferences.

9. Is it possible to connect multiple shipping containers to create a larger greenhouse?

Yes, you can connect multiple shipping containers to create a larger greenhouse space. This modular approach offers scalability and flexibility in greenhouse design.