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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Building a Simple Hoop House
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. 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 headroom for bigger plants as a hoop house does!
In this article, I am going to focus on showing you how to build a simple hoop house over the top of any existing raised bed. The great thing about a hoop house on a raised bed is that the bed itself helps to provide structure and strength for 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 articles for a while will know that I like to do things around the garden as inexpensively as I can. This simple hoop house is no exception. You can easily build this 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 pieces of lumber (ripped into 4 pieces) OR 3 – 2 x 2 x 8 pieces of lumber OR whatever 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 screwdriver & 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
The first step is to create hoops over your garden beds. Just take your 4 pieces of PVC pipe and 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 can be tricky the first year as there will be some tension in the PVC pipe. After a few months, the pipe will actually settle into its 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 hoop house to hold up against the wind. All I do is pre-drill a 1/8 inch hole through the PVC pipe and 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 use 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 improvement stores.
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. I attached the wood to the PVC with 4 1-1/2 in screws. I pre-drill the holes in the PVC and then screw them down from the top of the PVC and into the wood.
A ridge pole can be simple and cheap. In the picture above, we had a snowstorm on the way and I needed to get this hoop house up fast! So I just used 2 shorter pieces of scrap lumber to create the ridge pole. The point is to add some rigidity to the structure however 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 it with 4 2-inch screws. I suggest pre-drilling the screw holes first to prevent the lumber from splitting.
This is the simplest way to secure your plastic covering to the hoop house. If you would like to see one of the other methods I used, that allowed me to access the beds from the long sides, check out this article here.
Make sure you center the plastic on the hoops. Leave enough plastic on each end to be able to secure the short ends of the hoop down to the bed (see step 6 below).
Step 6 – Secure the Ends
Now you need to secure the big flaps of plastic at the end 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. You may end up needing to cut some of the plastic to allow easier access to the bed. If you do end up cutting the plastic, reinforce the end of the cut with some clear packing tape or duct tape.
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 come in handy for holding the plastic open when you are trying to vent.
And that’s it!! If you would like to learn more about using hoop houses to extend your gardening season then I would suggest you check out my Year-Round Gardening video course.
How can I make a cheap hoop house?
The nice thing about this design is it is very inexpensive. The hoops will cost you around $10, and the plastic will be around $10. Improvising a few clamps from around your place will keep the costs down, but you can also find cheap clamps online or at home improvement stores like Harbor Freight.
How do I build a small hoop house?
Using PVC pipes as your hoops will really add flexibility to your design. This will let you change the size of your hoop house. If you need a smaller hoop house simple cut down the size of the PVC hoops to fit your needs.
What can I plant in a hoop house?
Hoop houses will help you extend your garden growing season for lots of cool-season plants. They are great for cabbage family plants like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. Hoop houses also are great for growing leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, kale, and Mache. You can even grow root crops like carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes in a hoop house.
I would like to try this for my home and hopefully year round. Great ideas and tips
D Aryd'ell Hotelling
We built one at the NC coast, but due to hurricane force winds, used two metal U-shape clamps the exact size of the pipe diameter at the end of each pipe, as well as the screws directly into the wood. The clamps went at the top of the wood base and near the bottom, and helped keep the pipe from flexing. We also used small pieces of rebar at the end of each long side of the wood, then clamped them to the wood itself. Before we did that, our hoop house sailed away in one of the mid-90s storms.
In our next home, we plan to make them taller and permanent, using metal pipe and the v-shaped pieces to create a taller roofline- somewhere nearer 5′ tall(we’re both over 6′) and use actual greenhouse plastic. We’ve found that asking the local nurseries if they have leftovers from covering their houses, if we can buy it, they are happy to give it to us and it lasts much longer than painter’s plastic. We also ask to buy any leftovers in shade cloth, which can either make a nice cover to toss over if the weather turns hot early (in AR and NC it can!) or use as ‘flooring’ to deter weeds under the beds. As the new ‘house’ will be taller, a simple row cover will help with any more-than-usually cold times, as will the higher mil of the greenhouse fabric. It will cost more in the long run, but buying a piece a week is less than eating a fast food meal, and won’t have to be replaced in 5 years! Happy Gardening!
At the end of the year, do you reuse plastic, wood, and pipe? Year after year, do you screw into the same holes on the garden box?
There’s no reason to take all that apart or down, except plastic. If you’re careful, use actiualhgreenhouse grade plastic, and put it up using staples and webbing ( like what’s used on those oldtimey aluminum outdoor chairs) you can get many years out of the plastic, removing staples that are over the webbing, foldup and put away. Make sure it’s dry. Reuse the webbing pretty much forever. I have some over 20 years old