by Jenny Brown

My title was a bit tongue in cheek. If you know me well enough, you would know I don’t say or do things just to be politically correct; it has to make good, logical sense.


Don’t misunderstand me; I am a strong supporter of use and reuse to reduce the trash-load but there is more than one benefit to recycling.

So, why did we build our green house out of recycled materials?

First, is cost. If you’re living like we do –  growing and raising your own food, you more than likely do not have a budget for a quality state-of-the-art greenhouse kit. An equivalent sized green house, if bought as a kit, would be around $1,ooo. With free or inexpensive used materials, our only other expenses were hinges and caulking. For our family, building what we need with what we have is a way of life.

Secondly, I was given an incredible gift from my neighbors. They had replaced the old wooden windows in their farmhouse, keeping the old ones stored in their barn loft. One day, when I was over visiting, my neighbor mentioned she’d like to get rid of all those windows and wondered if I might want them. “Take as many as you want,” she said. “They are just cluttering up my barn.”WANT THEM? ARE YOU KIDDING??” One gal’s junk is another gal’s treasure!

So, for the past two years my basement has been housing a farmhouse worth of old wooden windows. A few have been made into picture frames but I’ve been saving most of them for my ‘someday’ greenhouse.

The third benefit of using recycled materials for our green house is that it makes for a unique and better constructed project. Who wants the same cookie-cutter greenhouse with cheap plastic parts that are not repairable? I wanted something original that brought beauty and character to my garden…I knew those old windows, with my husband’s craftsman skill,  had great potential…but to find the time for such projects is another story.

Around here, practical almost always wins over pretty. There’s a lot of work to be done on a small farm and not much time is available for those fun projects seen in Country Living magazine. So, you can imagine how excited I was when my husband asked me to bring the windows up from the basement so he could start on the green house…‘someday’ had arrived!

The cooler spring weather had convinced him he needed to build a shelter for our shivering tomatoes and cucumbers. He wants to be sure he has slicers for his burgers this summer and I have enough cucs to fill up a shelf of pickles!

Let the project begin!


The original plan was to build it 2 windows wide but once he started building, he decided that would not give us enough space.


The problem with widening the green house was we didn’t have enough glass for the roof. His plan is to construct an A-frame roof out of the glass from sliding doors.


When in need, check Craigslist! You can almost always find the ‘junk’ you need. This tempered glass will be removed from the door framing.


working on the roof structure


I want to move my bed out here and sleep under the stars!


view from my peppers


My skilled handymen.

The tempered glass from the sliding doors is layered on the roof. Tempered glass is much stronger but cannot be cut like regular glass without special equipment (which is too costly to have done). The upper piece overlaps the lower piece to prevent water from seeping in underneath.


The green-house will also serve as a potting shed. We hope to find a small wood-stove to put in it to keep the plants warm early in spring.


We had used some older caulking to attach the glass. Turns out that caulking has a shelf-life. The caulking never dried. Barry had to remove the entire roof, clean off all the caulking, re-apply new caulking and install all the glass back on the roof. A very time-consuming lesson.


The ‘front doors’. We have just enough hardware left over from our kitchen cabinets to add some cute door handles.


Our little barn always has a consistent juggling act being performed within it’s walls. My husband laid the gable he is working on over my chick brooder. They’re probably very excited about that, literally.


My milking stand has also been over-taken temporarily.

When I start feeling like a typical American, thinking I need a room for everything, I consider how most of the world lives! Much can be done in small spaces…our little barn is proof!


Finally, my tomatoes are moving in! There is still a bit of work to do on the green-house but we can at least get the plants inside now and warmed up.


Stay tuned…..more pictures to come!


If you have a farm/garden/home project that you have built with recycled materials, please tell us about it below!

Recycling materials for projects brings out creativity in us!




You can skip to the end and leave a response.

5 Responses to “Going ‘Green’ House – Building a Green House out of Recycled Materials”

  1. PrairieMomReen Says:

    Nice work! This turned out terrific! Wtg on repurposing AND recyling to the tenth power…lol. ☼

  2. Jim Newport Says:

    Please put a cross beam to build – – triangulation- – in the roof, a roof truss is “absolutely” needed for safety. The roof as is, is spreading its load against the walls outward,not just weight downward.
    The joint at the peak, is very weak with great leverage against it. The roof will fail if the walls spread.. and the whole building collapse under wind, ice or snow loads. The roof joint needs gussetts too, to hold the joint together.. gussetts and trusses are missing on the roof and this really is a dangerous structure as shown.
    Jim Newport.


  3. Jenny Says:

    Thanks for the advice, Jim.

    As this is a very small structure – 12′ x 8′, it is unlikely there will be any significant load on it, but we’ll keep an eye on it when it snows.

  4. lee freedom Says:

    well, I built a 10×10 greenhouse using palletts and plastic by first constructing gambrel roof trusses with the long pieces together with some plywood as truss connectors…framed it together, then stretched ag-plastic over it…ag-plastic is uv resistant and thicker, used on tunnell houses and greenhouses…with a ‘long shelf life’….

  5. stella machado Says:

    i was so happy to read this page of the greenhouse i have been saveing the old windows that im replaceing in my house for a greenhouse. how do you survive by staying home im working a fulltime job and doing housekeeping for 6 ladys and im just slideing by im trying to pay off debts so i wount be so stressed but its hard everything is going up i live on almost 2 acres and im planting everything i can fruit trees and vegtables its great i hang my clothes to dry im rebeling against the electrical company so im not useing my dryer to see how much my bill will go down in a month i stopped useing my furnace for the same reason and i got a 36.00 credit wow that was great. any more suggestions im open and willing

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