How to make a greenhouse with 4,500 glass jars

How a Redmond resident spent nearly two years building a greenhouse out of salvaged materials.

What began as a need for indoor plant space in a Redmond studio apartment blossomed into a unique project in rural Duvall.

Axton Burton began building a greenhouse using repurposed mason jars and glass containers in the beginning of 2020. Now, nearly two years into the pandemic, the vision is coming to fruition outside Burton’s parents house in Duvall.

The greenhouse’s frame is built with lumber 2×4 beams, more than 4,500 glass jars and containers have been stacked between the frames, fitting together in an imperfect, yet organic, way.

Altogether the project cost about $3500, Burton said a smaller shed would have cost $6500 if purchased and not put together with recycled materials.

Burton said the many containers collected from folks around the area were each placed into the walls of the greenhouse one-by-one, leaving gaps in between that Burton has begun to fill with moss for insulation.

Inside are grow lights, fans and a misting system to create an ideal environment for tropical plants that would not fare well in the temperate climate of a Washington winter. Burton salvaged an old wine barrel which has been repurposed as a rainwater reservoir outside of the greenhouse.

On the suggestion of neighbors who have seen Burton’s project come to fruition from the otherwise unused glass that they donated to him, he has filled certain jars with colored glass beads and marbles, to give the walls a colorful aesthetic.

Tiles with gaps in between for stepable ground cover have been laid down inside the greenhouse, Burton excitedly waits for the ground cover to spread in between the tiles like an organic grout.

A decorative fountain sits in the corner of the greenhouse, looking lonely without the troves of tropical plants like bananas, Buddha’s hand, finger limes, star fruit and others which Burton is unsure will all fit in their humid new home.

Some jars have been filled with materials to encourage local wildlife like birds and pollinating insects to nest inside them.

Since sharing the project on social media, Burton has been contacted by folks from all over the country asking about how it was built so they could try to build their own.

Rain water will be collected in this old wine barrel that Burton found (photo by Cameron Sheppard)

Rain water will be collected in this old wine barrel that Burton found (photo by Cameron Sheppard)