Build This Easy Hoop House to Grow More Food

Extend your season like never before for less than $1,000.


| October/November 2011



Hoop House Greenhouse

Matt Moody and Paula Davidson’s hoop house in Cabot, Vt., is 12 feet wide by 16 feet long.


PHOTO: SYLVIA SMITH

Gardening inside a hoop house is like moving part of your land hundreds of miles south, all for a modest investment in materials and time. It’s proof that a bit of simple technology can definitely go a long way.

Hoop houses are greenhouses made by covering a plastic or metal hoop structure with one layer (or sometimes two) of clear plastic. They are low-tech and low-cost compared with glass greenhouses.

Hoop houses give benefits throughout your growing season — far more than just the obvious advantage of protection from frost. Decreased wind pressure on seedlings, more humid growing conditions and higher internal concentrations of carbon dioxide during the main part of the season are reasons why they deliver better food, and more of it. For northern gardeners, hoop houses also bring the reality of spring planting and nurturing closer to the actual time the late-winter gardening enthusiasm naturally kicks in. The warmth and serenity of a hoop house offers a pleasant space to work, rest and recharge yourself, too. Hoop houses with roll-up sides and shade cloths even deliver benefits in hot climates by providing variable amounts of protection from blistering sun.

Although hoop houses are structurally simpler than greenhouses, a successful layout still requires planning and care. Building a hoop house that ages gracefully demands construction details that aren’t immediately obvious. The tried-and-true design outlined here will ensure you enjoy the perks of your hoop house for years to come.

Before you begin, get specific about what you want to accomplish. Are you just looking for a small space to nurture seedlings? Do you envision a hoop house you can walk into? Do you plan to make roll-up sides to regulate heat? You can incorporate all of these features into the build-it-yourself design here.

Location and Orientation

Any hoop house requires a flat, level and well-drained site. Even moderate winds exert a lot of force on a hoop house, so choose a location sheltered by tree cover or other buildings if possible. Because excess heat within the hoop house during summer will be an issue even in northern regions, orient your hoop house so the ends align with prevailing winds for maximum ventilation. Choose a location with deep, stone-free soil to make anchoring the structure much easier.

mikemills82
3/13/2016 12:35:00 AM

I used the plans on WWW.EASYGREENHOUSE.INFO and built my own hoop house VERY cheap and easily! It was the best decision I've ever made. To my family and I, it just made economic sense to build a DIY greenhouse. We spent a fraction of the cost of buying an expensive pre-built one that just have to be assembled anyway...why pay inflated prices for material? The guide on that website is so very easy to follow and it doesn't matter if you're a total beginner like us. We were on a very small budget and found so many wonderful plans for our greenhouse...it was hard to pick just one, but the one we chose is terrific! We actually built the one that is featured on the website's homepage. I love growing fruits and vegetables for my family all year round! There's no such thing as out of season for us anymore! I finally have the greenhouse of my dreams and it was VERY affordable!


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10/1/2014 6:10:31 AM

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keith whitmore
11/21/2011 11:59:13 AM

When you say to join the flared ends of the PVC pipe together it took me awhile for me to understand just what you were talking about. What you mean to say is to join the swedged end of one pipe to the non swedged end of another pipe. Flaring is a whole different ball game. And, to have a swedged end on PVC pipe your actually talking about PVC conduit..


hans quistorff
11/20/2011 8:58:22 AM

I was able to recycle 3 portable garage frames to cover my fall raspberries. I have a total of 100 feet long by three rows wide. I am able to supply raspberries in November to our co-op and some spring berries that were also covered are now ripening. The rows run North to South but the prevailing wind is from the south west so that when I had the plastic fastened to the frame but did not have the feet anchored the wind picked it up and turned it to line up with the wind. There was little damage but it was more difficult for me to left the frame back over the rows than it was for the wind to do it.


glen mentgen
11/17/2011 8:55:33 AM

Great article. At The Living Farm website there is a series of videos showing the actual construction of a hoop house (they called it a Hobbit house). . . very educational. You may access this at: http://thelivingfarm.org/?page_id=157 They show every step in details and have a very unique method of installing the central purlin that makes the whole hoop house completely able to take down easily.


david gaydos
11/3/2011 2:12:04 AM

Though I'd been pondering the idea of building a modest hoop house for some time now, your article in the Oct/Nov 2011 issue really inspired me to get going on it. Halloween is tomorrow and I think I'll be done in another week or two. The article did a tremendous job at simplifying the process, especially constructing the ends, which had always stymied me. I do have a couple tips that might help those with soil that it stubbornly hard or rocky. Instead of just pounding the ground pipes in straight away, I "predrilled" each hole with a 30" length of iron pipe. It's the black, threaded type to be found in the plumbing aisle of any home improvement store. My ground pipes were 1.25" (to receive 1" hoops), so I used a 1" diameter size iron pipe. I used a sledge hammer to pound in the iron pipe and banged the dirt out of it between holes. Though the hammered end now looks a bit flattened out, it worked extremely well and made the whole job of driving the ground pipes much easier. I also didn't break any of the PVC ground pipes while driving them in. Something else that I did that seemed to hasten the job was to mark each PVC hoop near its end at the point where the top of the ground pipe was to meet the hoop. That way, I didn't really have to worry so much about adjusting the height of each hoop before fastening the second end of each hoop to the ground pipes and ground frame with the carriage bolts. With the marks (mine were at 9" from the ends of the hoops), the hoops lined up automatically, as they all extended equally deep into the ground pipes on both sides. Thanks, Mother, for such a practical article that simplified hoop house construction! I can't wait until my family and I are reaping the benefits of our new hoop house.


jay slivkoff
10/17/2011 8:05:40 PM

There are plans for a sturdy hoop house at: http://www.albertahomegardening.com/how-to-build-an-inexpensive-hoop-style-greenhouse/ or others by googling "How to build a hoop greenhouse./Cheers


estebandido@gmail.com
10/16/2011 5:48:00 AM

I'd like to attach a hoop house to the back of my garage to use as a chicken run. It could either extend straight out, with one flat end flush against the garage, or it could be a half-hoop, with the half-arches coming directly out of the garage. I can't seem to find examples of either. Has anyone seen something like this?






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