Hoop House How-To
Learn how to make this temporary structure to extend the growing season
No matter what climate you live in, you can benefit from a hoop house in the garden. Whether it's to get your garden started earlier in the spring or making it last longer in the fall, it's a low cost way to extend your harvest.
Hoop houses are incredibly easy to put together and the materials are not that expensive. If taken care of properly, you can use the same hoop house for many years to come. This hoop house is specifically designed to be used in raised beds. We had many of the supplies on hand already, but I would estimate that this would cost less than $50 and you would have plastic sheeting leftover for more projects.
- Schedule 40 PVC pipe, 3/4" x 10' lengths
- Half round pipe clamps
- 4-6 spring clamps
- 5 - 1" x 3" cedar boards
- Coated wire or twine
- Plastic sheeting, at least 6 mil thickness, 10' wide
- Staple gun
- Tape measure
- Pencil or pen
- Cordless drill with screwdriver bit
You may have noticed that there are no specific counts on the above supplies. That all depends on your size raised bed. My raised bed is 4' wide x 7' long, so I used four PVC pipes that were 10' long, eight half round pipe clamps, and sixteen 1" wood screws. Now let's get started.
- Determine how many PVC pipes you will need based on the size of your raised bed. My bed is 4' wide x 7' long, so I used four 10' long pieces of PVC pipe that were 3/4" in diameter. This works out to be one hoop every 2-1/2'-3' apart. I wouldn't go any farther apart than 3' as you want the hoop house to be able to withstand some wind, if possible. If your bed is only 3' wide (which I highly recommend; easier to reach the middle of the bed that way) you may only want to use 8' lengths of PVC pipe and go down to 1/2" diameter to make it easier to bend. Also, if you want the hoop house to be able to house taller plants, take that into consideration as well; 10' lengths might be better for you.
- Once you've determined spacing, attach the half round pipe clamps near the top of the raised bed rails, evenly spaced on both sides. Do not fully tighten them until you have put the PVC through them. Use screws that are about the same length as the width of your boards. We used 1" screws for ours.
- With help from a friend, take one end of the PVC pipe and place it through the opening in the pipe clamp. Have your buddy put the other end of the pipe into the opposite side. Tighten the screws gently. Don't over tighten or you will have trouble getting the pipe out at the end of the season. Don't be alarmed if the pipe clamps bend a little. They are meant to flex slightly.
- Now it's time to attach the 1" x 3" wooden supports to the hoops. They need to be the length of your raised bed and there will be one on the top and one on each side. I chose to attach mine with a coated wire because I thought it would be easier to adjust the tightness as needed. The supports on the side can easily slide up or down, out of the way, when you need to work the bed. I feel these supports are important to make the hoop house stronger in the wind. Whatever you use to attach the boards, make sure there are no sharp edges to cut the plastic.
- The width of the plastic you need would be determined by the length of PVC pipe you are using. The plastic sheeting comes in various lengths and widths. We chose 10' wide plastic since our PVC pipe was 10' long. Determining the length to cut off the roll of plastic is very important because you want to be able to close the plastic easily to trap the heat inside and to keep the cold out. Since our raised bed is 4' x 7' long, we used approximately a 13' long piece of plastic. To determine the length we added 4' + 7' + 2' for good measure which comes out to 13'.
- Position the plastic over the hoops so that it hangs evenly on all sides, then attach a 1" x 3" board to the bottom of each side with staples. This will help hold the plastic down on the sides and it will help you if you need to roll up the sides to work in the bed. In the photo at the top of the page, you will notice ours is actually a 1" x 4" board. Either work fine, use what you have on hand. The length of this board should only be the length of the raised bed and positioned on the plastic next to the rails of your raised bed. This will leave the ends free so you can close them and open them as needed using spring clamps.
So that's it. I hope these instructions help you to build your own hoop house to extend your growing season so that you can have vegetables and herbs to harvest early in the season and late in the season.