The Greenhouse Space Saver

posted in: Gardening | 3

The Greenhouse Space Saver

this is an image of the finished greenhouse space saver

Today I've invited Linda from Coach House Crafting to share one of her crafting recycling  ideas with us.  It's a great greenhouse space saver idea. Plus it frees up greenhouse space. Furthermore it's light enough to carry inside and outside especially when hardening off plants in spring.
Gardening here in the Scottish Highlands is unlike any kind of gardening I experienced while at home in England. I initially made so many mistakes. Lost so many plants due to my stubbornness and naive determination. I continued growing the plants I loved rather than what would actually grow in this part of Scotland. Moreover it was during those years of frustration that I sulked a tad where the gardening was concerned.
Meanwhile I turned my attention to building containers, obelisks and arbours from scrap wood.  It kind of made me feel like I was achieving something despite having obliterated all my lovely plants. Plus containers meant I could move plants around according to our weather conditions.
That's the time I came up with this greenhouse space saver idea. I needed something that would make use of height in my greenhouse and free up some space. Furthermore it needed to be light enough to carry in and out as I needed.

How to Make a Greenhouse Space Saver

It was really easy to make too with limited skills and tools. I used only scrap wood and plastic milk cartons that I had saved.
I made this one in half a day. But it could take even less time if you organise your tools and materials beforehand. Which I don't tend to do!

Tools and materials required


  • Scrap wood.  You can use any scrap wood.  I used batten, 3"x2" and ply board.
  • Wood to use as the milk container supports. I used 1.5"x 1/4" beading.
  • Screws and/or nails.
  • Hand saw or electric cutter.
  • Tape measure (always handy but I hardly ever use them).
  • Stain for protecting. (I used Cuprinol garden shades  Natural Stone).
  • Plastic milk cartons. I used 30 on mine but you can make the frame and add the cartons as you collect them.

this is an image of the greenshouse space saver without any plants in the containers



 scrap wood frame, garden space saver, recycled wood frame 


#1  The first stage is to make a rectangle frame using battens (or your chosen wood).


Then add corner supports to the top of the frame only.


I didn't have any particular size of frame in mind.  I simply made it up as I went along - that's how I roll!

 recycled wood space saver, recycled milk carton, garden space saver

#2  Once we have the frame made we need to attach some feet to support it.


I used batten and 3"x2" for mine.


Cut the batton.


Then screw or nail it to the bottom of the frame like in this photo. 



greenhouse space saver procedure

#3  Attach the feet to each side of the base end. Then stand the frame up.  


Next cut 2 more pieces slightly larger from 3x2, or whatever wood you have.


Screw or nail these to the existing feet from the top down.


You can also see from the photo that I screwed the rectangle frame down into the first foot that was attached.  This is just for extra stability.


garden space saver, scrap wood, recycled milk carton

Make Supports

#4  Next we need to make some supports for the lengths of wood that will hold the milk containers.
I used ply board for this as it was all I had suitable that was lying around. I basically cut 6 rectangles (3 for each side). Each rectangle had 2 grooves cut out of it from the top of the longer side to roughly half way through. These cuts need to be a suitable depth to hold whatever wood you are using for the container supports.

greenhouse space saver procedure

#5  Once all the rectangles are cut and grooved they simply need attaching to the sides of the frame.


I just spaced mine at equalish distances.

 greenhouse pot holder, recycled wood, recycled milk carton

#6  Once this is completed it's just a simple case of cutting 6 lengths of wood for the container supports. (I used thin beading.) Make sure the lengths are cut long enough to extend further than the supports at each end.


#7  Finally give it all a coat of protective paint. Then start filling it with your pots by simply sliding the container supports through the handles of your milk containers.

Greenhouse Space Saver Uses


This greenhouse space saver is ideal for veggie seedlings being hardened off.  You simply lift it and place it outside in the morning and then bring it back in at night.  There's no bending and schlepping around with plastic pot holders that always tend to split and crumble right when you don't need them to.
It's also fabulous for rooted flower cuttings that need similar hardening off treatment. If you use the containers for herbs it can be easily placed against a warm wall right near the house.
OR if you're a crafter like myself it would be fabulous for holding crafting goodies such as pens, paints, ribbons, stamps etc etc.
Pretty versatile huh!

this is an image of the finished greenhouse space saver



How to Make the Containers into Useful Garden Helpers

this is an image of the containers used in the greenhouse saver made from old plastic milk bottles

Now lets talk about those milk containers. You can use pretty much all of the container as useful garden helpers!
#1 First off take one of the plastic milk containers you've collected. All sizes are good but I personally find the 2 pinters too small for this project. The bigger the container the bigger size pot it will hold. I used 4 pinters and 6 pinters.
#2  OK so we need to pierce the side of the container with scissors. Leave the lid on to keep the air in otherwise the container will simply collapse. Then cut right round the container.
The top part with the lid is all finished and ready for your newly built greenhouse space saver.
Personally I try to leave the lids on the containers that will go on the top 2 layers of the space saver. That stops any water draining into the layer below. You can open the lid to let excess water out!

Wait ...don't throw out the rest of the container!


Make Plant Labels

Now we're left with the bottom half of the container we cut. So take your scissors and cut down the length of the container.  Stop where you see the next rigid line that goes all the way round the container. Turn at this point and cut round the circumference once again until it separates from the bottom of the container.  Then take this middle section and cut straight down the middle of it.
Now all you need to do is use the middle section to cut strips off at whatever width you would like your plant labels to be.
Once you've done this you then cut points onto one end of the cut strips and use the container base to store them.


See, the whole container has a use - yay!


In the photo you can see the strips before having the points cut. While inside the container are some that already have the points at the end.

this is an image of a container being made into plant labels

this is an image of an old plastic milk bottle made into strips of plant labels

I hope this tutorial made sense to you all and that you can replicate it in some way for your home and garden, I would love to hear from anyone that has made one.


Coach House Crafting on a budget

Linda is a gardener and crafter who lives up in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands along with her family, 5 dogs, 3 cats, 4 hens and numerous Birds of Prey.  Since moving to Caithness she has found that a polytunnel is an essential part of gardening due to the weather extremes and she loves to recycle bits and pieces to make them into useful things for the garden.

Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh. She also writes and shares her nature images on

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3 Responses

  1. Tom Stewart

    I visited your Blog for the first time tonight and I will return to read the rest of your posts! I was impressed with the first picture I saw! You see I'm a big beliver in recycling when ever I can! And this is a great idea which I will use this spring!
    My Blog worms-a-crawlingfarm.blogspot, I write about Homesteading in general and raising compost Worms! Come by when you get the chance and take a look!

  2. Andrea

    Hi Rosie, i love what Linda did. I am trying to do bits and pieces like her myself. But i love that stand, although i cannot do it as i still need to buy wood. In my case, i elevated some wide slabs of wood to make a garden bench, and i used leftover hollow cement blocks as platforms of both ends. This way our chickens have a bit difficulty in reaching for the plants leaves. Gallons of mineral water bottles are also cut like those, but i utilized both halves as plant pots, i just make holes at the bottom. We dont have those milk bottles, but they are sturdier and more beautiful hanging like that. I think they will also be good for hanging plants, or even vegetables for urban gardening.