We no longer used our 6-foot-by-10-foot dog kennel and it looked like a sturdy frame for a greenhouse. After not seeing too much online about making a greenhouse from an unused dog kennel, we decided to take it one step at a time, and of course take pictures as we did in order to share the process with others.
We always see unused dog kennels in yards as we drive here or there, so we know others might like to know they can put it to good use. One of our goals was to keep the cost of this project down by re-purposing materials we already had around.
First, we moved the dog kennel around in the yard to picture where the best location would be. Lots of sun, access to water, away from any parking strip, and within view of where we could see it for enjoyment. Once we located the best position for our greenhouse, we drew up a plan and made a materials checklist.
Unused dog kennel
Several one inch pipe clamps
Several treated 2-by-4 boards
Hog wire panels
Nylon zip ties
Tubular foam pipe insulation
UV-treated, reinforced polyethylene sheeting
1-by-2 wood strips
Screws and washers
Planter hooks with machine bolts and nuts (optional)
Tables, shade cloth, and irrigation (optional)
Next, we leveled the land our greenhouse would sit on. We were working with a slight slope, so the uphill side needed more digging out than the downhill side. The dog kennel needs to be as sturdy as possible making sure all the joints are strong and the chain link fencing is secure. Our dog kennel has a nice door, so we double-checked the hinges and balanced the door swing.
We do not want our greenhouse to be damaged in any of the fierce windstorms we get, so we secured the dog kennel to footings on the ground. It has stood the test of time now that it’s been there for more than 3 years and does not budge even in 45 mile per hour wind gusts.
There are different-sized dog kennels made with different-sized tubing. We used 1-inch pipe clamps every 2 feet to secure the bottom tube of the dog kennel to treated 2-by-4 boards on the ground serving as a footing.
We used two hog-wire panels for the top. They came 5 foot by 16 foot, so we had the lumber yard cut 5 feet off of each to make them 5 by 11. This is the dimension that made sense and worked for us. You may find you want to work with different dimensions to fit your particular dog kennel and desired roof height.
We wanted the roof height to be 3 feet above the dog kennel at the tallest point, making the overall height of the structure 9 feet tall in order to hang potted plants, which of course are fertilized with our homemade sardine fertilizer, and so my husband could walk through it without ducking.
Our hog-wire panels are on the inside of the dog kennel with tension against the inside top tube of the frame. Placing the hog-wire panel on top of the dog kennel, my husband positioned himself on the outside of the dog kennel. Holding an edge of the hog-wire panel inside of the far side of the kennel, he pushed on the side closest to him, causing the hog-wire panel to bow up, and nudged his side of the hog-wire panel inside the side the upper edge of the dog kennel.
Be extremely careful when installing the hog-wire panels as you will be putting pressure against its strength and it could slip and spring back at you. Have others stand clear of the project during this time, and be sure to wear sturdy leather gloves and eye protection.
We secured the hog-wire panels to the top rail of the dog kennel with zip ties a few inches apart. We used spare tubular foam pipe insulation we had stored in the garage to pad the sharp ends of the hog-wire panels.
Just slip the pipe insulation over the ends of the hog-wire panels anywhere the UV-treated, reinforced polyethylene sheeting will touch. This prevents injury to people and the poly sheeting that will cover the dog kennel creating the greenhouse environment.
I have never liked working in a greenhouse with a dirt floor, so before going further, I secured weed-barrier strips to the ground with landscape staples. As an added delight, my husband drilled two holes through the vertical tubing at the top of each corner to accommodate attaching planter hooks at the corners.
To fasten the UV-treated, reinforced polyethylene sheeting to the dog kennel, first we draped the poly sheeting over the entire dog kennel.
Next, we cut the poly sheeting excess, so we only had about 3 feet excess, which would be rolled under and secured. Using 1-by-2 wood strips, we rolled under the excess poly sheeting at the sides and fastened them to the 2-by-4 board footings using screws with washers to protect against tearing the poly sheeting.
Worked fabulous — now we have a greenhouse!
For the back side of the greenhouse, we used the same method as the sides, but rolling under only part of the excess and securing by two separate one by two wood strips at the ground level.
Using two more one by two wood strips, we vertically rolled the poly sheeting gathering it into the middle of the back of the greenhouse and securing with spring clamps. Now, in extreme heat, we can open the back of the greenhouse for ventilation simply by unclamping the spring clamps and opening the V-shape vent.
To close it, we simply bring the vertical poly sheeting wrapped one by two wood strips together and clamp with the spring clamps.
We fashioned the front of the greenhouse similar to the back except since we needed to work around the existing door, we gathered the poly sheeting on a short 1-by-2 wood strip above the door fastening it to a second parallel 1-by-2 wood strip on the inside and along the sides of the door we did the same. The door was covered with a small piece of poly sheeting.
We added tables and irrigation in the greenhouse for ease of working with plants and watering anything we grow. Standard shade cloth works well for plant protection during extreme heat.
Had any luck building a greenhouse with unconventional materials? Do you have any additional techniques that worked for you? Leave a comment and let's discuss.
Mary Ann Reese is a certified mentor in designing, building, and operating food bank farms. She has also been certified to teach cooking classes to low-income families. As an organic grower, Mary has owned a mini-farm, greenhouse, chickens, ducks, and geese raised from eggs in an incubator and is happy to share years of wiser living advice with her readers. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.