Building a Recycled Greenhouse

With plenty of building materials left over from a house reno project, one couple puts it to good use—and build a greenhouse.

Credit: Holly Willgress and Fraser Koroluk

A greenhouse from recycled materials

Put leftover building materials to good use

Amazing greenhouse constructed from recycled materials

I wanted to share with you and readers some photos of the recycled greenhouse my husband, Fraser, and I built this summer. We own a small lodge in Bella Coola, B.C. and in the process of renovations and an entirely new roof and third floor added on last summer, had a lot of old and leftover building materials.

My husband, much to my chagrin at times, saves anything and everything that may be useful at some point in the future. So we decided that as much as we could, in the spirit of reducing consumption and waste, everything we did in our private area of the backyard was going to be with recycled/found/leftover items. The greenhouse is a result of our efforts as almost everything from windows to paint used in the construction is recycled.

The windows came out of the old house that was on the site of our lodge in the 70’s, and some are the result of upgrading to more energy-efficient windows. The framing and cedar siding is partly from a big renovation in 2007 and from the deck of the old pool we removed in 2006. The cedar decking from the pool had some rot in it but we cut that and planed the boards down and used them again. We also used it inside the greenhouse to face the planting beds. The paint on the old windows was the result of taking several pots of old, half used oil-based paint and mixing them…. a lovely eggplant purple was the result!

The beautiful cedar shingles and the tin on the back side of the roof are the discarded materials leftover from our new roof we put on last year. The only truly new things we put into this greenhouse were cement foundations, nails, some new glass panes for a few of the old windows and a door (OK, we got a little lazy with that one). My trellises for cucumbers and beans inside are driftwood branches in keeping with the “no new stuff’” theme.

The style of the building itself was inspired by a shed we saw in a building magazine. You wouldn’t believe how many people have come to look at it, take photos and ask if they can copy the design! We have no experience building greenhouses so we always tell them to ask us next year if anything grew in it!! So far my tomatoes, tomatillos, cukes, eggplant, artichokes, beans and habanero peppers seem pretty happy and productive so I guess it works!

Thanks a million from a neophyte gardener who has learned a great deal from GardenWise magazine (and a lot of trial and error)…

You can visit Holly and Fraser at