Green, Vegetable Garden

How to Build a Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

April 28, 2019

How to Build a Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

How to Build a Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

This is a long overdue blog post for many reasons, not least that I keep thinking I’ve already written about how to make a plastic bottle greenhouse and referring people to an imaginary article!

I’ve had the joy of working with a lovely community group over recent years. Gleann na Bearu community garden, in partnership with Carlow Youth Services, was awarded with Local Agenda 21/Carlow County Council funding to buy the materials and tools needed to make a plastic bottle greenhouse. I’d like to finally share some images and instructions with you about how we built it.

Upcycled Greenhouse

Serenity Community Garden

Serenity Community Garden

The garden needed an outdoor potting space and a greenhouse made from water and mineral bottles seemed very fitting with the upcycled/recycled theme running there. Since we began in 2011 we’ve been highlighting waste and encouraging people to think about what they use, how it might affect the environment we live in and save the budding gardeners money in the meantime.

Since its completion, the greenhouse has won Carlow’s Pride of Place Upcycle Challenge in 2017 and received many complements and visitors. However, we weren’t the first to build an upcycled greenhouse, nor I’m sure the last. I first spotted a greenhouse made from water bottles in Serenity Community Garden in Dublin, followed by another in Ballymun.

How to Build a Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

An Taisce published a ‘How to Build a Plastic Bottle Greenhouse’ pamphlet in An Gaeilge and English that we used to be able to download but I haven’t found the link so here’s an image:

How to Make a Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

Using the pamphlet as a guide and with the help of volunteers, Mr G adapted the Gleann na Bearu greenhouse to fit the space and it wasn’t an overnight job. It took several months to collect enough bottles (around 2,000 I think they mentioned) and was a fiddly job cutting the bottles to fit the bamboo poles the bottles needed to thread through. Mr G used polytunnel plastic, excess from another tunnel build, for the roof which was then covered in chicken wire to prevent neighbouring cats damaging it. He also made it so that the bottles could be replaced when the sunlight broke them down.

All in all the new greenhouse has been a big success. A couple of growing seasons later, heaps of tomatoes have been sown, grown on and planted out from the greenhouse, as well as cucumbers and other seedlings.

Unexpectedly, the plastic bottle greenhouse has added to the art that decorates the garden. “When the sunlight catches it, the bottles sparkle like a waterfall” mentioned one of the regular gardeners. “It’s a joy to have here”.

Thanks to Kilkenny Carlow ETB Adult Community Education, I’m back in the garden providing gardening classes from 1st May, 10am to 12am for 6 weeks, costing just 50 cent a week to cover the refreshments, all welcome, come and see the greenhouse yourself.

6 Comments

  • Reply Dominic Ó Gallachóir May 31, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    That garden looks so tidy. Those pictures are an absolute joy to look at. Well done to everyone involved in this.

    • Reply Dee Sewell June 7, 2020 at 11:11 am

      Thanks so much and yes, it really does look like that in real life and we’re delighted with the results!

  • Reply Michael Power December 2, 2020 at 8:16 am

    Fantastic work on the bottle green house, it a credit to all involved, it great to see it in its final work place, I collect plastic bottles myself for other ideas, this has given me a new perspective on the use of them, we have allotments in clodagh house,portlaw, County Waterford, it’s a great place to unwind, and concentrate on the vegetables, michael power

    • Reply Dee Sewell January 1, 2021 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks Michael, the greenhouse has certainly been a focal point of interest and discussion in terms of upcycling. The allotments are in a beautiful setting at Clodagh House. I’m looking forward to helping out with the community garden there again this year thanks to the Foroige Just Grow project.

  • Reply Richard O Rourke September 12, 2021 at 11:57 am

    Amazing work, we are planning to add a new greenhouse to our garden and this looks like a great approach. I see from the instructions we need about 1500 empty plastic bottles. That is going to take a while. Its a pity pity milk cartons are not clear. Again well done.

    • Reply Dee Sewell September 14, 2021 at 10:23 am

      The biggest problem with the bottles is that they break down, they’re not really intended to be made into greenhouses! It is a really good project for community groups and schools though and can be used to highlight waste.

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