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Make Your Own Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 30 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Greenhouse Greenhouse Kits Gardening

So why on earth would you want to make your own greenhouse out of plastic bottles?

Well, we all know that the British weather can be less than reliable. So for green-fingered Brits, a greenhouse tends to be a vital piece of kit if you want your growing endeavours to prove successful. And although the price of a greenhouse has become more affordable in recent years, they can still be expensive to maintain. A night of strong winds can cause havoc, and even replacing the cheapest horticultural glass isn't particularly economical.

There's also the issue of the environmental cost of manufacturing and producing a greenhouse kit. Although it is possible to buy greenhouses second hand, or acquire them through schemes such as Freecycle, they tend to be a bit like gold dust and are quickly snatched up.

So the perfect frugal solution is making your own plastic bottle greenhouse. The majority of the structure is, as you might expect, made from recycled plastic bottles. Because you will need a lot of plastic bottles, it's a perfect school, youth club or community project.

Children can be involved in the collection of bottles, and will then be able to see their materials put into 'action' to create something entirely new. Being involved in the process at all levels can encourage children to think creatively about new uses for otherwise disposable materials.

Making Your Own Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

First Step - Collecting Materials

What You'll Need:

  • Around 1500 plastic bottles. These should be as uniform in size as possible. 2 litre sized bottles are ideal.
  • Soapy Warm Water
  • Scissors

Once you've collected all the bottles, they'll need washing in warm soapy water to remove the labels (vital for letting as much light into the greenhouse as possible). All the bottles will then cutting into shape so that they can stack together. This means cutting off all bottle ends - hard work but vital! If children are participating, make sure that they are careful of any sharp edges.

It may take a while to collect enough bottles to make the greenhouse. During this time, it might be an idea to prepare the greenhouse base. This can be done by levelling out the ground on the site of the greenhouse, and putting down a layer of builder's sand and paving slabs. Alternatively a weed-suppressing membrane covered with shingle or gravel could also be used.

Next Step - Making the Frame

What You'll Need:

Corners

  • 4 timber 4" x 4" 8ft (approx. 210cm) Corner Posts
  • Post Fix Cement
  • Screws

In each corner of the greenhouse base, you'll need to erect a corner post. These should be secured in place with appropriate post fix cement.

Sides

  • 4 timber 2" x 2" 8ft lengths
  • 4 timber 2" x 2" 6ft lengths
  • Screws

Using the 2"x2" timber, create two side panels. Ideally these should have mitred corners, to maximise on strength and durability. Do not erect these frames yet.

Back Frame

  • 4 timber 2" x2" 6ft lengths
  • Screws

The back frame is simply the 4 lengths of 6ft 2"x2" timber screwed together with mitred corners.

Front Panel and Door

  • 4 timber 2" x 2" 6ft lengths
  • 6 timber 2" x 2" 6ft lengths
  • Brass Hinges
  • Screws

Initially the front panel will need to be constructed in the same manner as the back panel. However, in addition to this, the door will need to be constructed to hang off this frame, so will need to be constructed to fit just inside the front panel frame, taking up roughly half of the width of the front panel.

Roof

  • Roof Sides 4 timber: 2"x2" 8ft lengths and 4 timber 2"x2" 5ft lengths
  • Roof Central Roof Beam: 1 timber 2"x2" 8ft length
  • Roof Top Gables: 4 timber 2"x2" 5ft lengths and 2 timber 2"x2" 6ft lengths
  • Roof Supporting Beam for Gables: 2 timber 2"x2" 4ft lengths
  • Screws

Again, using mitred edges, these lengths need to be screwed together to make the greenhouse roof. The slope of the roof can be altered, but the lengths listed above will need to be altered accordingly.

Replacing the Greenhouse Glass

What You'll Need:

  • Approx. 140-150 6ft bamboo garden canes
  • Approx. 300-400 Fence Staples

The plastic bottles will replace the need for greenhouse glass. To make the clear panels, you'll need to take a bamboo cane and slide a bottle end the 'wrong' way down the cane. This will act as a stopper for the other bottles. Obviously make sure that all bottle tops have been removed at this point. You can then slide and stack the bottles onto each bamboo cane. The final bottle on the end of the cane should again be placed the opposite way to the others, creating another stopper.

Make sure that enough bamboo cane has been left at either end, as these are then fixed to the greenhouse frames with fence staples. Make sure that before you start stapling, all the bamboo canes are lined up and jiggled about so that there are no large gaps in between the bottles.

Once the bottles have been fixed to the side, back, front, door frames and gable frames, these can then be erected and fixed to the corner posts. Once the gables are in place you may find that you need an additional central timber support in each gable. The last component to be added should be the door - it may not be a perfect fit, but as long as there are no gaping holes, it will do! After all, a greenhouse needs plenty of ventilation!

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[Add a Comment]
@tom8787date. here's one on our sister site ecofriendly kids
MakingYourOwn - 29-Aug-12 @ 11:01 AM
We are planning a greenhouse for our school. Do you have any photos or pictures for the students to see? Kind regards Ginelle
tom8787date - 29-Aug-12 @ 12:30 AM
hi,was wandering if it's possible to build a greenhouse out of five litre bottles.i go to a local community garden and for a while we were using the bottles to water the plants and veg so we have loads,it would be great to put all these bottles to great use,any input would be appreitated.
chips - 12-Jul-12 @ 3:37 PM
Don't use hundreds of bamboo canes, use wire wrapped round the frame and slot the columns of bottles in between the wires, bamboo's expensive and blocks the light.
Andrewdouse - 24-Mar-11 @ 7:13 AM
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