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How to Recycle Old Windows for the Garden

Transform Old Wood Windows into Functional Garden Decor

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old windows and shutters turned into a potting bench

Turn an old window into a potting bench.

photo © Gwen Lausterer

Add vintage charm to your home's exterior by recycling old wood windows for use in your garden. Depending on your carpentry skills and your available space, you can turn salvaged windows into a simple trellis or a full-sized greenhouse.

Trellis

Remove the glass from an old wooden window to turn it into a garden trellis for climbing vines.

If the window contains a grid of thin wooden strips - which are called muntins - designed to divide numerous panes of glass, you can use the window as is. The vines will climb on the muntins. If you have an open window frame, you'll need to use eye hooks to install a grid of wires.

Make s freestanding trellis by attaching the window to wooden posts, and then planting the posts in the ground. Sink the posts in concrete as you would with fence or mail box posts. You can also hang the trellis on your fence, or on an exterior wall of your house, garage, or garden shed. If you opt to hang your window frame trellis, don't just screw or nail it flat against your chosen surface. Use spacers made of pipe or wood blocks so the trellis projects away from the structure; the vines need to climb on both sides of the window grid.

Window Box Planter

Window boxes bursting with blooms look charming on installed windows, and you can recreate the look with a old salvaged window. For climbing plants, remove the window glass so the vines can wind their way around the muntins. Otherwise, you can leave the glass intact.

Construct an open-topped box from scrap wood, and then attach it to the bottom of your window, which is called a rail. Build the box as wide as the window width. The depth and height are up to you, but make sure it's large enough to hold your plants. Paint or stain the window box to match the old window. You may need to distress the box's finish if the window has original paint. Hang your window box planter on the exterior wall of your house at normal window height for the most authentic look.

Greenhouse

Use your carpentry skills to turn a collection of salvaged windows into a greenhouse for your garden. The windows don't have to be identical. You can fit a mix of window sizes and shapes together like puzzle pieces to form the greenhouse walls and roof.

If your garden space is limited, build a miniature greenhouse with windows that open at the top and on all four sides for easy access to your plants. Outfit the greenhouse with tiered shelves so you can house lots of plants in the petite space. If you have a roomier yard, you can build a more traditional walk-in greenhouse -- large or small -- with room for you to work inside.

Cold Frame

If a greenhouse is too big for your outdoor space, use an old window to make a cold frame. A cold frame is an open-bottom box with a glass lid that serves as a micro greenhouse. A cold frame lets you start your seedlings early in the season without worrying about chill or frost.

Build your box framework to the length and width of your window. Make the back of the frame taller than the front, and cut sloping side pieces to connect the two. Attach the window to the tall side with hinges. The sloping shape maximizes sun exposure and prevents rain from pooling on the top of the window. Visit Instructables for detailed instructions, or watch a video tutorial from This Old House.

Potting Bench

Combine old wood windows with other architectural salvage and vintage furniture parts to create rustic-looking potting bench. Start with an old table or dry sink, or construct your own from salvaged parts. Install shelves beneath the table for pots and other supplies. You can make them from scrap lumber or old drawer fronts. Mount your window to the top back of the table, as you wood with a dresser mirror. Screw cup hooks into the window frame for hanging small tools or clusters of drying herbs.

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