A Small Greenhouse from a Bus Stop Shelter

Here’s a unique way to build your own greenhouse. You’ll also find tips for easy greenhouse management.

| July 9, 2009

I’ve thought about building a small greenhouse for a long time. One day, when I was at a surplus auction, I saw a bus stop shelter for sale and had a great idea — that could be my new, small greenhouse. I paid $750 for it. I knew the tempered glass alone was worth that much.

Over the next few weeks, I converted the shelter into a small greenhouse. I added vents along the bottom, then filled in the bottom of one entrance and installed an automatic vent opening at the top. In the other entrance, I installed a hinged door.

Initially, I was worried about the acrylic, domed roof. Would it let in enough sunlight for the plants to grow? Before installing the roof domes, I had placed them on the grass for several weeks. At the end of that time, the grass under them was much taller and greener than the surrounding grass. So it turns out that the white acrylic domes make a perfect greenhouse roof. They’re virtually hail-proof, diffuse light and provide protection from the intense sunlight during the summer.

If you want to build your own small greenhouse, here are six suggestions from my experience.

Automatic Vent Openers

Maintaining an appropriate temperature in a small greenhouse can be time-consuming. Some greenhouses have doors and windows that are opened manually when the outside temperature rises. By installing automatic vent openers, you can drastically reduce the time you spend with climate control. These temperature-controlled devices have a metal cylinder containing a mineral that expands when heated. This pushes a piston to open the vent. As the temperature drops, the mineral shrinks and a spring closes the vent and resets the piston. These vent openers do not require electricity.

There are many automatic vent openers on the market today. I installed the Bayliss Triple Spring MK7 Vent Opener, which has three heavy-duty springs to give the opener superior closing power, making it ideal for sidewall vents and roof vents in windy areas.

2/2/2012 6:42:31 AM

this is such a fantastic idea!!! what a way to recycle something used!!! I love the tips & how you did everything. Thank you for sharing!! :)

Byron Thomas_2
1/11/2010 5:15:06 PM

Wow! Just yesterday I had the opposite idea...In this cold wet weather, turn the bus stops (look just like the ones in article) into a warm bus-stop greenhouse. Just add a sliding door to open side. IN summer, whitewash the roof and glass, or add wet wick coolers. Even better, each time a bus stops in winter, "unload" the engine heat somehow to warm the stop.

7/22/2009 8:38:20 PM

Another good source of double-pane thermally insulated tempered glass units for greenhouse construction is used sliding patio doors. They seem to come in a couple of common sizes, and can often be had for $5 or $10 each from a building material recycling store, if you tell them you don't care about the condition of the frame; just the glass. Make sure you avoid the "Low-E" type glass, as it will restrict the amount of sunlight that makes it through to the plants. I'm currently building Rodale's "Gardeners Solar Greenhouse" from the book by the same name.

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