A simple hoop house is a great addition to any garden. They are particularly easy to build on existing raised beds.
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One of the handiest year round gardening projects you can do in your garden is to build a simple hoop house. A simple hoop house can add at least 6 weeks to each end of your gardening season. Yep, that means you can be planting 6 weeks earlier in the spring and growing 6 weeks later in the fall. In fact depending on where you live and what crops you choose to grow a simple hoop house may be all you need to extend your growing season to 365 days a year.
A simple hoop house is a must if you plan on growing large plants like kale, broccoli or Brussels sprouts either extra early in the spring or late into the fall and winter. As much as I love growing in cold frames, they just don’t have the head room for big kale plants like a hoop house does!
In this post I am going to focus on showing you how to build a simple hoop house over the top of any existing raised bed. I love having a simple hoop house on a raised bed. The great thing about a hoop house on a raised bed is that the bed itself helps to provide structure and strength to the hoop house. A simple hoop house added to the top of a raised bed will be much less complicated and much more secure (against the wind and weather) than a hoop house built directly in the garden.
Those of you that have read my blog for a while will know that I like to do things around the garden as inexpensively as I can. I’m not exactly what you would call “cheap”. But I do love structures and materials that are low priced but still last a long time. This simple hoop house is no exception. You can easily build this simple hoop house for under $20.00
Simple Hoop House – Materials needed
For this project you will need to purchase or locate the following materials
4 – 10 foot pieces of 1/2 inch PVC pipe
1 – 10 foot by 16 foot piece of 3 mil painters plastic
2 – 2 x 4 x 8 piece of lumber (ripped into 4 pieces)
3 – 2 x 2 x 8 pieces of lumber
What ever scrap lumber you have laying around
1 packet of small clamps (at least 8)
A handful of 2 inch and 1 inch screws
Electric Drill with a screw driver & a 1/8 inch bit
Knife or scissors to cut the plastic
A table saw if you choose to buy a 2 x 4 and rip it yourself.
Simple Hoop house assembly
Step 1 Add the hoops
This is simple to do. Just take your 4 Pieces of PVC pipe put one end in the ground inside your garden bed. Press it as deep as it will go. Then bend the pipe into a hoop and press the other end into the soil. This is a bit of a trick the first year as there will be some tension in the PVC pipe. But after a few months the pipe will actually settle into it’s new shape and when you take it out of the ground next year it will retain the hoop shape.
Step 2 – Secure the PVC to the raised bed.
This step is necessary if you want your simple hoop house to hold up against the wind. All I do is pre-drill a 1/8 inch hole through the PVC pipe.
Then secure the pipe to the side of the bed with a 2 inch screw. Do this for both sides of all 4 pipes.
Step 3 – Cut Your Lumber
If you have a table saw rip your 2 x 4’s in half. This will give you 4 pieces of roughly 1.75 x 1.75 inch boards. If you decided to just buy 2×2 boards then you can skip this step. I prefer to used 2 x 4’s cut in half because the pieces turn out to be better quality boards than most 2 x 2’s you can get at home improvements stores. Most of this wood will be covered by plastic so I just buy inexpensive pine.
Step 4 – Install your ridge pole
To give structure to your hoops and to make the whole hoop house stronger I suggest adding a wooden ridge pole. I like to put mine under the PVC pipe as shown here. This keeps the wood from protruding and causing tears in the plastic. Simply attached with 4 1-1/2 inched screws, screwed down from the top of the PVC and into the wood. Pre-Drill the holes in the PVC.
Notice how simple and cheap this can be. We had a snow storm on the way and I needed to get this hoop house up fast and I didn’t have a way to go buy lumber. So I just used 2 shorter pieces of scrap lumber. the point is to add some rigidity to the structure how ever you can!
Step 5 – Add the plastic
I prefer to access my hoop houses from the short ends. So I secure both long ends of the plastic to the sides of the raised beds using 2 of the other 8 foot pieces of lumber. Simply put the plastic over the hoops and then put the piece of lumber over the plastic and secure with 4 2 inch screws. I suggest pre-drilling the screw holes first to prevent the lumber from splitting.
Make sure you center the plastic on the hoops. Leave enough on each end to be able to secure the short ends of the hoop down to the bed. (see step 6 below)
This is the simplest way to secure your plastic covering to the hoop house. I have messed around with this over the years and just gone with this simple method. If you would like to see one of the other methods I used, that allowed me to access the beds from the long sides, you can see that in this old post here.
Step 6 – Secure the ends with a few clamps.
Now you just need to secure the big flaps at the end down to the hoop and the raised bed using a few clamps. I’ve found 4 or 5 on each end to be enough.
You will need to play with this one a bit. One may end up cutting some of the plastic to allow easier access to the bed. You also need to anticipate being able to open one or both ends on a warm day to “vent” your hoop house. That way you don’t cook the plants inside on a late warm fall day or early spring day. The clamps will also come in handy for holding the plastic open when you are trying to vent. If you do end up needing to cut the plastic, I would suggest reinforcing the end of the cut with some clear packing tape or even duct tape.
And that’s it!! A simple hoop house to add to your existing raised garden bed. This new hoop got its first real test the night after I put it up, we had a cold snow storm come through with extremely high winds. Despite being “cobbled” together a bit it held strong against some pretty tough winds. The key to making it strong is adding that ridge poll and screwing those PVC hoops to the side of the bed.
If you would like to learn more about using hoop houses to extend your gardening season then I would suggest you pick up a copy of my Online Year Round Gardening video course.