When temperatures are inhospitable, new seeds need a safe, warm space to sprout, or plants need protection from wildlife or wind, a greenhouse can be a literal lifesaver! But when space, time or resources are in demand, what is a green gardener to do?

Did you know you can build your own greenhouse to fit your space, using inexpensive, or better yet, recycled materials? Here are four great, easily modified greenhouse ideas using recycled materials.

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1. Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

The internet is awash with various plans for building a green house out of empty PET plastic bottles, but the basic construction is all the same. Clean, label-free plastic bottles are threaded with sticks or wires to create walls of plastic that are then fastened to some sort of wooden or metal frame. The size of the frame can vary according to your needs, and there can be some variation in the way the bottles are threaded onto the sticks or wires as well. Keep in mind that a 6x6x6 foot structure can use approximately 1500 or more plastic bottles, depending on their size, so it is important to do some measuring and math before you begin. Look here for some design inspiration.

Plastic bottle greenhouses are great since they create additional use for an overabundant product that is harmful to the environment, saving it from the landfill. These greenhouses are also incredibly affordable (though they make some some time to collect enough bottles) and easily modified to fit any space. Additionally, because they are not air-tight, rainwater can still reach plants, yet the interior temperatures will remain at least 10 degrees warmer than outdoor temperatures.

5 Types of Greenhouses You Can Build Out Of Recycled MaterialsElijay

2. CD Case Greenhouse

Let’s face it, compact disks are pretty much obsolete. But who doesn’t have a bevy of them cluttering up your drawers or shelves? Rather than throw them away, put them to good use by building a mini green house! This type of greenhouse has a pretty low-supply, low-effort, high-repurpose value and looks great, too! While it probably won’t work on a large scale, it’s perfect for small spaces or delicate seedlings.

5 Types of Greenhouses You Can Build Out Of Recycled MaterialsHolly Norval/ Flickr

3. Bucket Greenhouse

Those translucent plastic tote buckets with the snap on lid can provide plenty of light, an easily adjusted climate (keep the lid on to increase temperature and humidity, take it off to cool down on warm days, or cover with a breathable cloth to let air and light in while keeping everything else out), and portability for young seedlings or plants. No modification is needed for this easy greenhouse!

While not entirely recycled, quick or inexpensive (cost is approximately $100), 5-gallon buckets can be stacked and modified to become self-contained indoor gardens called Space Buckets with this nifty tutorial!

5 Types of Greenhouses You Can Build Out Of Recycled Materialsjmsaltzman
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4. Old Window Greenhouse

Repurpose old windows after a remodel by turning them into a mini greenhouse! Depending on how many old windows you have, this concept could be easily expanded to fit your needs.

5 Types of Greenhouses You Can Build Out Of Recycled MaterialsDonald Lee Pardue/ Flickr

5. Hoop Greenhouse

While they may not be as environmentally conscious, a DIY hoop house is a fantastic, easy and cheap way to protect plants. Hoop Houses consist of metal or plastic arches that are covered in plastic sheeting, protecting plants and allowing sunlight in while maintaining a good growing climate. If you have plastic sheeting or arches that can be recycled, great! But having to purchase the plastic may be a bit of a turn off. However, hoop houses are very effective for growing plants, especially during winter.

When you really stop to think about what a greenhouse is — a structure that protects plants from outside elements, while regulating temperature and providing light — with a little creativity, greenhouses can be made out of a variety of items you may already have in your home! Got any DIY, recycled material greenhouses I haven’t mentioned? Comment below!

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Lead image source: axelkr/ Flickr