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How to Build a Miniature Greenhouse from Old Windows

Windown GH1It’s time to get new windows for your house, and you have the perfect ones in mind. But what should you do with the old ones? Before you send them straight to the landfill consider recycling them into a project instead. Old windows can make a cute, inexpensive greenhouse that will brighten any yard or patio.

You can make a greenhouse of any size, but if you don’t want to go through the trouble of pouring concrete and collecting more than a handful of windows, there is another option. Miniature greenhouses will fit in the corner of an office or a small backyard, and they have the added bonus of being portable.

Collect Materials

Collect screws, nails, your toolbox, and, most importantly, your windows (you can also use old doors if you’re looking to build a larger greenhouse). Whether you use your own old home windows or salvage them from craigslist, neighbors, or construction sites, make sure that they’re the same size so that you can put them together without the extra hassle. Make sure that they’re all the same material, too—you can build a miniature greenhouse with either wood or aluminum-framed windows, but the job will be much easier if they are all the same.

I’ll use wooden frames as an example in this article. Just modify these basic instructions to fit your personal preferences!

Prep Work

Before you begin building, make sure that your windows are in optimal condition. Repair them as needed (caulking, sanding, etc.). You might save painting as the final step, just in case they get scratched a little during the building process. Painting the wood will protect it from the elements as well, so don’t skip this step entirely even if you’re going for more of a “shabby chic” look.

Building Your Greenhouse

There is more than one way to go about the building process. Peruse the internet for the best ideas, and choose the design that you like the most. Here are a few options to consider as you get started.

  • Lay one window flat as the floor
  • Go without a floor so that the greenhouse can be picked up and placed over plants as needed
  • Attach two windows with a piece of angle iron in a peak for a gabled roof
  • Lift one wall taller than the one opposite with a 2×4 so that you can lay another window across them to make an angled roof
  • Use nails, screws, hinges, or angle irons to attach sides together
  • Opt out of a door and leave one side open

Simplicity Might Be Best

If you’re at all like me, the thought of using exact measurements, levels, drill bits, angle irons, and anything that sounds like it belongs to a professional construction worker is daunting. Now that you have a rough idea of how you want your greenhouse to look, here is the most basic way I’ve found to construct your miniature greenhouse.

  • Place the sides of the four walls firmly against each other in a square (again, make sure they are the same height and length)
  • Hammer nails gently through the wooden frames at each corner
  • Strengthen with angle irons placed on the inside corners if needed
  • Place a fifth window flat across the top and attach to one side with hinges to create a lidded roof

Window greehouseIn the end, it all comes down to your personal style. Do some experimenting. If you’re more comfortable with tools, feel free to get creative with a frame, legs, and gabled roof like this:

Something like this can take a little more work, but the results are well worth it. Whether you’re looking to replace your windows and doors in Toronto, Los Angeles, or anywhere in between and need to get rid of the old ones or you want to get an early start on your garden with a basic greenhouse, building one from old windows is one solution. Go out and do some research, and whatever style you end up with will be a fun, valuable addition to your gardening experience! 


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