Build a Window Pane Greenhouse Out of Discarded Windows

Build a window pane greenhouse is one innovative way to prepare for and survive in times of hardship. This is a simple process and you can do it without spending a lot as you can use items you were planning to dispose of. Collect windows from construction sites in your neighborhood where there is renovation going on. 

To determine the amount of material you will need, look at the space you will be working with. The ideal location is one where there is lots of sun for most of the year. Next, decide how many plants you will put in as this will help in calculating the size of the hothouse.  In general, an eight-by-ten foot structure can hold between 75-100 plants depending on size.  


  • X window panes
  • Sand and bricks
  • 2in-by-4in lumber
  • L-shaped brackets
  • Screws, nails, Screwdrivers, hammer
  • String and stakes 
  • Latches
  • Caulk
  • Zinc for roof

Directions on How to Build a Window Pane Greenhouse

The method will vary depending on the types of window panes, but the basic approach is the same. The steps below are suitable for a strong hothouse that will last a long time. Using cement for the foundation is not necessary in some areas, however, always refer to your building code. A good size is around 6 feet high x 10 feet deep x 7 feet wide, however, depending on the number of windows you manage to obtain, this can be larger or smaller. 

1. Lay the window frames with panes intact side-by-side, to determine which ones are the same sizes. The more uniform and “similar sized” the window panes are …the better. Overall this will make the hothouse look more professional when completed. Remove any paint that is on the window frames and then repaint them using outdoor paint to slow the rotting of wood from exposure to the elements.

2. Measure the area and plant a stake at each corner, then run the string from stake to stake, to ensure that you have straight lines for your foundation.

3. Dig a hole at each corner, place cinder blocks at the four corners and put the wooden poles into the block pockets to use as columns. This will provide the support for each set of windows used for the side wall so use cement if possible to ensure that they are firmly in place. 

4. Create a frame using wood to attach the windows.

5. Join two window frames together with screws and nails to create each side of the hothouse.

6. Place each window square against the wooden frame and nail this to the columns. Brace this structure to ensure that it's sturdy and that it will not topple over easily.

7. Use tape or other material to seal spaces between the windows and frame if you do not have caulk.

8. Leave a few panes out to use as a door.

9. Create the floor by spreading stones and sand inside as this will aid in heat control as well as provide a good drainage system.


10. Next, put on the roof. Make sure to use something light like zinc, and give it a slant so that water will run off when it rains.

11. Put in benches on which to place your pots with plants and seeds; you can use picnic benches or even make your own with board. You will also need a worktable on which to perform some of your tasks such as mixing fertilizer or trimming plants while in the greenhouse. 

12. Now that the structure is up, look for any cracks or holes and seal them so that your hothouse will be able to retain heat. Use regular putty, and also paint the structure with plant friendly paint, like wood preserver or even household white gloss. Creosote can kill plants and get into the soil, so avoid if possible. Also don’t forget to add your door – ideally it too should have as many glass panes as you are able to find.

More on Building a Greenhouse

The simplest and most basic way to build a window pane greenhouse is to create one that has shelves for pots on the outside. These should not be higher than you can reach without having to stand on a ladder to get to the top shelf. These smaller structures need to have windows that you can open so you can take out or put in plants. A great way to start a greenhouse project that is ideal for germinating plants and for herbs and spices that do not need a lot of space. 

For safety reasons, when you build a window pane greenhouse, take precautions during construction and regular use. If possible, use tempered glass, as it is less likely to break and cause injury. 

When you build a window pane greenhouse you will have fruits and vegetables in and out of season. In winter, you can have a constant supply of summer vegetables, herbs and spices without much effort. Before you start building, make sure to check the building code for your area. To do otherwise puts you at risk of having to tear down your hothouse after completion.

Return from Window Pane Greenhouse to Backyard Farming

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