Build a Home Greenhouse from Recycled Materials

Source(s): Stephen D Pettis

A greenhouse provides winter sanctuary for gardeners and a place to keep green plant material. Greenhouses are simple, easy to build and they can be quite inexpensive if you use recycled materials.


Greenhouses have been around for centuries. The first greenhouses were invented by the Dutch in the 1600’s.Through ingenuity and the invention of paned glass, grapes were started early under panes of glass leaned up against stone walls. This trapped heat and maximized the poor spring sunlight to allow earlier crops of fruit. From panes of glass leaned against walls, greenhouses have evolved but are still simply a collection of windows.

Windows and glass doors are replaced in homes around our county everyday. The windows that are replaced are often thrown away and wasted. These windows and doors could be recycled to create a greenhouse in a number of ways.

The simplest is to build a cold frame raised bed. Simply build a raised bed the size of your window. Make sure the top slopes a bit to ensure water drains off quickly. Install weed barrier cloth in the bottom and fill with potting soil. This bed can be used to harden off seedlings started indoors in the spring, used for rooting cuttings in the summer, and for cool season veggies in the fall and winter.

The greenhouse can be built by starting out with a wooden frame of any sort. Orient the greenhouse so that full direct sunlight cannot penetrate the windows. If you have a full sun situation, purchase shade cloth to reduce sun penetration that might harm tender plants.

Use an opaque roofing material such as corrugated plastic or fiberglass. Attach the windows to the frame with hinges so that each is independent allowing for temperature regulation. In the winter, caulk the windows to insulate against the winter chill. Employ the use of a boxed heater and lights to warm the greenhouse during particularly cold winter nights.

Steve Pettis
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