Yurts have been in existence for at least 2500 years, according to written history, but probably have been in use much longer than that. Yurts have been growing in popularity over the last decade as an alternative living home for those that don’t want traditional stick-framed houses.
Yurts are versatile and are used now days in many nontraditional ways such as: a yoga studio, office, fitness center, storefront, portable retail space for gift shops, art studio, guest lodging, vacation home and Airbnbs.
What About a Greenhouse?
A yurt would make a perfect greenhouse. Traditionally, yurts are made from a wooden circular frame with a felt cover and take only a few hours to set-up.
Nowadays, yurt frames are made from either wood or steel, and both could work for a greenhouse purpose. One benefit of using a yurt is the 360-degree area that it creates for even light distribution.
When researching your yurt greenhouse, you may want to talk with local nurseries, home improvement stores, and even local companies that build greenhouses to find out which material would be best for your area and needs.
Depending on your area, you may have to pull permits before constructing your greenhouse yurt. Different towns, cities, and counties have varied requirements, so the best thing to do is to ask questions regarding the local building codes and to avoid any fines, see if permits are needed.
Take care in choosing your covering material as too much light will overheat plants and possibly harm them. Alternately, not enough light, and your plants may not grow and/or die from the lack of.
There are quite a few products that you can choose from when it comes to the covering of the yurt. Materials used in covering a greenhouse include:
- Polyvinyl Chloride
The material used to cover the yurt is probably the most important part of a greenhouse. The material will affect the amount of light that comes through for your plants.
These different material types will allow a specific amount of light to filter in and also offer different amounts of diffusion.
Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic, or FRP, is used as an excellent covering for greenhouses. FRP works by scattering the sunlight which then gives a good diffusion and light.
The shelf life for an FRP covering is about 10 years because UV rays break down fiberglass which then makes the greenhouse covering brittle.
The best way to get longer use out of an FRP covering is to apply a new coat of UV coating about every 2-3 years. FRP has an R-value of 0.89 and is slightly better than glass.
Glass structured greenhouse are undoubtedly the best-looking choice for a covering but are also the most expensive and lack energy efficiency.
When you think about the structure of a yurt (a 360-degree building) the cost would add up quite quickly with all of the special cuts some of the panes of glass would require.
Single paned glass has an R-value of 0.9, while double paned glass has an R-value of 1.5 to 2.0.
A polycarbonate greenhouse covering is made from a thick plastic which is a cost-effective way to go. It is much more versatile than glass, especially applicable for a yurt greenhouse.
The material comes in two different varieties, single-wall or twin-wall sheets.
A single-wall polycarbonate has an R-value of 0.83, while twin-wall polycarbonate’s R-value is 1.42.
Polyethylene is a very inexpensive material and is very lightweight making it easy to use. Polyethylene comes as a film and is usually made up of one or two layers.
Polyethylene is porous which is an added benefit as it allows oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass through the film. This allows your plants to breathe in a sealed greenhouse.
Polyethylene has a R-value of 0.87 to 1.7.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC Fabric)
Polyvinyl Chloride (or PVC) fabric is a great choice if you are wanting a more durable material. Some PVC fabrics are heavy and thick and can withstand heavy snow loads, while at the same time increasing the insulation.
Because of those factors PVC fabric is an excellent choice for those in a colder climate.
PVC fabrics are translucent and have a UV-treatment engineered with UV stabilizers. This allows for a light diffusion for the plants.
The UV-treatment also has the added benefit of being able to prevent yellowing of the fabric, and can also be made flame retardant, if necessary.
The R-value of PVC fabric will vary depending on thickness and the types of treatments that have been added to it.
Cooling And Ventilation For Your Yurt Greenhouse
The next thing to take into consideration when building your yurt greenhouse is how to keep it cool, so that the plants do not overheat.
Cooling and ventilation are done by either mechanical ventilation or natural ventilation.
Mechanical ventilation is done by using a louvered inlet opening, exhaust fans and electricity to operate the equipment.
These would be installed in between the rafters of the yurt, per your design specifications.
Natural ventilation works by taking in two accounts of physical phenomena. Thermal buoyancy is the first of the two, which is when warm air is less dense and therefore rises.
The second is what is called the wind effect, which is when the wind blowing outside a greenhouse creates small pressure differences between the windward and leeward side, which then causes air to move towards the leeward side.
All that it really takes to achieve natural ventilation is to have strategically located inlet and outlet openings.
For the opening you would then add a vent window motor and the electricity to run the motors. You can get vent window positions that you charge manually, which takes away the need for motors and electricity.
It does however have a tradeoff which is that you would need to make frequent adjustments.
The Bottom Line
Yurts have been used in many areas and in all types of climates. A yurt can be the perfect foundation for a greenhouse with little adjustments. Do your research, use the information supplied, talks to others, and soon you will be producing an abundance of healthy plants, flowers and/or vegetables in your own DIY yurt greenhouse!