Building a bottle greenhouse

Project

Bottle greenhouses are a great example of recycling in action. They enable you to involve the whole school in collecting the bottles and provide an opportunity for lots of maths and DT. 

  • Estimated time: 240 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Learn to design and build a large structure
  • Plan the components of a project
  • Learn about recycling objects

Preparation

Ensure the site is clear and weed-free and that your bottle greenhouse will be stable in its position.

Gather all tools & materials together and comply with school health & safety policies.

Equipment needed

  • Wood or metal frame
  • Lots of clean, plastic bottles
  • Bamboo canes and cable ties
  • Tools including a drill, screws, screw drivers, secateurs, scissors or knives
  • Tape if there are any sharp edges
  • Flat see through material for the roof 
 


  1. Identify the need and use for a bottle greenhouse in your school grounds. Choose a site for it.
  2. Start the chosen group designing the structure using a brief they have written.
  3. Ask the rest of the school to start collecting bottles. Ask if someone has a glasshouse frame (without glass) they no longer need. This will provide a strong structure.
  4. Decide how and what you are going to build the structure with? You may need to enlist some specialist adult help or work with the DT department to gather materials and build it.
  5. Measure the structure and work out the number and the size of the materials you will need. Once you have made the base and frame, build the bottle greenhouse using the instructions below.

Hints & tips

Fit a polycarbonate roof before starting work with the bottles. Consider lining the bottle greenhouse with clear plastic or bubble wrap for extra insulation.

  1. Once the basic structure is up and the roof is in place, screw bamboo canes to the wooden base around bottle width apart.

  2. Cut the base out of each bottle to allow for stacking and attach the top and bottom bottles of each column with a cable tie.

  3. Continue to do this until the entire side of the bottle greenhouse is filled in.

  4. Ensure the canes and bottles are graduated at the front and back, remember to leave space for a door.

  5. Fill in the sides, front and back and then line the walls inside with clear plastic or bubble wrap for extra insulation.

We've won awards!

Winner of the Drum Marketing Awards 2017
Winner of the ERA 2017 awards
Winner of the Third Sector 2017 awards