DIY Greenhouse
The interior of a basic hoop house design using inexpensive fence panels – in place of full plastic – you can build 3′ high walls and use reclaimed windows to add a little interest and beauty

One of the best ways to continue your growing season is with your very own DIY Greenhouse / Hoophouse. It helps to extend both the spring and fall growing seasons, allowing you to grow fresh vegetables nearly year round. In addition, it can be used to finish growing and hardening off vegetable and flower plantings that we start from seed each year in the early spring.

When it comes to DIY Greenhouse plans – a large majority of the commercial kits simply look flimsy and unattractive. Those that are a little more pleasing to the eye unfortunately also seem to cost a small fortune!

So with the goal of building an attractive and yet inexpensive hoop house – we set about designing one that can use a mix of recycled and reclaimed materials, along with some unique new ones. We want it to be more of a permanent structure – much like a greenhouse would be – minus the high cost. To cover, you can use an inexpensive, good quality 6 ML. Clear Plastic Film Polyethylene

An Attractive DIY Greenhouse Design:

Hoop House Base Design

This hoop house measures 11′ x 20′ – with side walls that are 3′ high.  To give it a little more of a permanent feel – you can use reclaimed windows along the lower portion, or simply run plastic to the ground if the windows are not an option.

Start by sinking (5) 4x4x6′ posts 30″ into the ground on each side – runing a simple bottom and top board along each side to frame it in.  The windows will then get attached between the posts for the base.  The two ends can be finished off by framing out with common lumber and attaching two recycled glass doors, or building a wooden frame with scrap lumber and attaching plastic.  For the arched roof, instead of metal poles or pvc  – inexpensive cattle panels can be used to create a strong and attractive roof line.

We will use cattle panels to create the arched canopy over the hoop house.
Use cattle panels to create the arched canopy over the hoop house.

The panels ($19.99 each) are a great looking and low cost way to provide strength  – and can be easily covered with clear plastic for fall, winter and spring use – or an attractive shade cloth for the summertime.  Each panel is 16′ long x 48″ wide – so it only takes 5 to make the entire 20′ length needed.  The panels bow into shape for a perfect arched form. They  can be secured to top of the 36″ side walls with nails, and panels can then be secured together with ties to a single pipe running from end to end at the top of the curved roof.

The hoop house is 9′ high at the apex of the center line.  This design allows plenty of room to work inside and have a total of 3 raised row beds. The two outer beds can be 20″ wide and run along each windowed side – the middle row is 3′ wide and can be accessed by one of the two walking rows down the middle. You can place 24″ wire racking at the top of the 3′ knee walls to flats when growing them out for the garden each spring.

We will use the hoop house to grow lettuce, spring onions, radishes, kale and other crops through much of the year
The hoop house is perfect for growing lettuce, spring onions, radishes, kale and other crops through much of the year

The growing rows below on the sides may not sound wide – but they can be used for growing lettuce, kale, cabbage, onions, radishes and other quick turnaround crops that do not require much room.

Between the ten posts ($60) the five fence panels ($100), assorted lumber for framing and the plastic sheeting ($60) – you should be able to complete the project for under $250, which is a far cry from what the commercial units cost. 

And that leaves you with your very own DIY Greenhouse / Hoophouse! This post may contain affiliate links.

Happy Gardening – Mary and Jim

44 thoughts on “DIY Greenhouse – How To Build An Inexpensive Hoophouse

  • January 27, 2016 at 3:49 pm
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    I have the panels ready for this project, but am wondering what plastic you used. I am planning for my first year to use a roll I got at a garage sale, (builders’ plastic, vapor barrier or whatever you call it where you’re from) just to keep the cost low and actually get it done. But long term, I don’t know how it will last.

  • November 8, 2015 at 2:47 pm
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    It’s a great design! Just remember that if you use any PVC pipe in it, like the pipe on top, cover it with the approved tape or paint to isolate it from touching the plastic sheeting. It will out-gas enough chlorine to hurt (and void the warranty on) even UVA-treated plastic sheeting made for greenhouses. Use the 6-mil plastic, and it will hold up well in the wind, too.

    • November 8, 2015 at 7:58 pm
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      Great point Howard and thanks so much for sharing with all of the readers!!!

      • February 13, 2016 at 2:43 am
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        Did you ever complete this project? And if so do you have any photos or any more blog posts on it? I’m going to start a 11’x16′ model as soon as the snow melts and the mud dries up. I’d love to see what you ended up with & hear how it held up.
        Thanks
        Jennifer

  • March 5, 2015 at 1:57 pm
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    Did I miss the post about the finished project? I bought a bender last year and am planning on building a couple hoop houses this year, one for gardening and one for chicken shelter. I love the idea of the knee walls first. Thanks

  • March 31, 2014 at 9:07 pm
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    so hows the progess how much did it end up costing

    • March 31, 2014 at 9:11 pm
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      Reinaldo – The progress has been awful thanks to a winter that will not end :). We hope to have it completed in the next few weeks and we will do a post on the final cost and look. That is if it really does stop snowing 🙂

  • January 26, 2014 at 10:04 pm
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    My husband and I were looking at this and were wondering how durable the plastic sheeting would be with strong winds? We have been looking for ideas for greenhouses and this looks very doable.

  • January 22, 2014 at 9:46 am
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    I like the idea that it’s low tech, from reclaimed and easily purchased items, and above all cheap! It could be adapted for any size garden bed. And it’s repairable. Too many of the purchased units, while “pretty”, are tough to repair without going back to the manufacturer. After all, this is a farm garden. No one it trying impress the neighbors, except maybe with their creativity! Nice job. You’ve inspired me to hoop my small garden beds this year.

  • January 16, 2014 at 3:45 pm
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    Reblogged this on reverseblog and commented:
    nice, inexpensive idea for a hoop house/greenhouse

  • January 14, 2014 at 8:44 am
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    Just stumbled upon your site this morning, love it! I have a small (16’x16′) backyard garden, sorta using the “square foot gardening” method. I compost and have 2 bunnies for manure. My friends are all amazed at my 6’+ high tomato plants! I’m in Massachusetts, and would like to extend my growing season (truth be told, I would love to move somewhere warmer, but that’s not in the cards, so I’ll make the best of it here.) My husband built me a lovely greenhouse window last winter in my south-facing bay window, using a flourescent light and wire shelving from home depot. Its nice, but small. So now I have to convince him to build a hoophouse like yours! Tell me, where is your farm?

    • January 14, 2014 at 8:49 am
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      Thank you so much! Our little farm is located about 30 minutes east of Columbus, Ohio.

  • January 13, 2014 at 7:26 pm
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    A rewarding project. I wish you luck for the new year.

  • January 13, 2014 at 12:06 pm
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    I did the same thing with skunks under the trailer and it works, and I for got about that. thanks for reminding me.

  • January 13, 2014 at 9:20 am
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    Plans sounds great my only suggestion if possible would be to weld the panels to the top bar. I don’t know what you were planning on using as ties but if it’s zip ties they will wear out in the sun. Our hoops aren’t permanent structures,we use ours for moving poultry around pastures. The last one we made my son welded all the panels. Has worked great. But I also understand not everyone has a welder.

    Good luck with your new venture. You folks are so organized. I’m jealous, Jo in NE Ohio

  • January 13, 2014 at 9:06 am
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    It sounds like someone has a head for design and business. I am nearly seven years removed from my greenhouse business and as difficult as it was at times I truly miss it. The excitement of the early spring and starting from seeds and receiving flower plugs is a great time of the year. The promise is quickly realized and so gratifying.

  • January 13, 2014 at 8:45 am
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    I, like many others, am hoping to build a hoop house soon so I will be following this closely. Good luck and I can’t wait for updates.

  • January 13, 2014 at 8:21 am
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    I have been debating this same topic. Can’t wait for the rest of the posts!

  • January 13, 2014 at 4:51 am
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    Sounds like a great plan and how wonderful that it will be multipurpose! The chickens will love it!
    Can’t wait to see how it comes together.

  • January 12, 2014 at 8:14 pm
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    Cattle panels are great for so many purposes. We have used them to make movable Plamondon pens for chickens. I have also used them in the garden for make shift green houses (arch, anchor, and cover). <3
    Keep up the great work!

  • January 12, 2014 at 6:33 pm
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    Hi great post. Is it finished? If so, pictures please. I’ll start saying “Hoop House” if you do! 😉

    Sam
    DE, USA

  • January 12, 2014 at 5:04 pm
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    It is so windy here. How does this building stand up to 40 – 50 mph? It is not constant wind at that speed, but it sure roars off the mountain at times. Just wondering…This is something I would like and am saving this info for spring.

  • January 12, 2014 at 4:32 pm
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    Wow this is great idea. I live here in the Mark Twain National Forest in the Ozarks of Missouri and cannot see any reason why this would not work. I think I would do this on a smaller scale considering the room I have to work with But I love it! Who would have thought, Cattle Panels?! Thanks for sharing look forward to seeing the end results…

  • January 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm
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    Hi, ans thanks for the great blog !

    What bar diameter should the cattle panels be ? (to be able to arch them, while still being strong enough to provide structural strength)

    Planning to emulate that design for the coming season here in Belgium 🙂

    Cheers,
    Cedric.

  • January 12, 2014 at 2:01 pm
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    What diameter are the cattle fence bars (to be able to arch it and yet give strength to the structure) ?

    Planning to emulate that design here in Belgium 🙂

    Thanks for the nice blog !

  • January 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm
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    Please redo the math,,, I think you need 12 posts, 6 each side at 4 ft. on center to be 20 ft. long….. or you need your post 5 ft. on center.. Thank You Rick

    • January 12, 2014 at 1:34 pm
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      whoops! You are right Rick – I had originally had the greenhouse at 16′ when I laid out the diagram – and then decided it would be better to have it at 20′ long – and so – yes, will need a 6th post on each side. – Jim

  • January 12, 2014 at 11:03 am
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    Just a couple of thoughts, you might want to cover your hoop house in plastic this year and then next year switch to the custom cover, it would give you a chance to spread the costs out and you can then wait to order it until you have your hoop house built to make sure the final measurements are correct. We built a passive solar winter greenhouse to grow greens in in the winter in Minnesota from mostly salvaged materials. The first couple years we had a heavy fiberglass reinforced plastic as our glazed roof.The material that we used was originally made to be used for curtains for hog buildings and when we replaced it with a rigid glazing a few years later it was still undamaged so if your custom cover would be made out of a similar material I think you would be very satisfied with it.

    • January 12, 2014 at 11:55 am
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      Thanks so much Lorri! That is some great advice! Jim and Mary

  • January 12, 2014 at 10:52 am
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    I love this idea! Being in a colder climate I’ve always wanted a green house. I’m looking forward to see how your design goes and I’m going to start looking for materials to build one!

    • January 12, 2014 at 11:54 am
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      We will be sure to update everyone with pictures and a story when it is complete! Good luck on yours! Jim and Mary

  • January 12, 2014 at 10:12 am
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    Greenhouse cover: You might want to contact a “Sail Cloth” company. Boat sail material is extremely durable, fiberglass reinforced. Have them send you some samples. You can have it custom cut to fit your greenhouse with stainless steel grommets installed for anchoring to the frame. This needs to be done by the canvas company because it is done with a heat knife. There will be investment cost but in the long run it will never need replacing.

    • January 12, 2014 at 11:53 am
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      Thanks for letting us know Sheri – we will have to check it out! Jim and Mary

  • January 12, 2014 at 9:27 am
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    We just built our high tunnel this August and highly suggest using red cedar for your lumber. We were able to procure good priced cedar from a small mill, which eased our mind, since it’s non-toxic.

    • January 12, 2014 at 9:36 am
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      That is a great idea Megan – thanks so much for passing along! Jim and Mary

  • January 12, 2014 at 9:17 am
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    Lovely. We hijacked some “half-hooped” awnings for one of ours and used cattle panels for the smaller one (that just has frost cloth). Yours are a tad more attractive! LOL

    • January 12, 2014 at 9:36 am
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      Its always great when you can use recycled materials! Jim and Mary

  • January 12, 2014 at 9:17 am
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    I love improvisational designs! We made ours after wandering away from all the plans that were similarly too expensive or otherwise out of reach. Ours is 12′ x 30′ and, I must admit, we are constantly lamenting that we didn’t make it larger. We have five raised beds (3 that are 8×4 and 2 that are 8×3). If we had it to do over, I think we would’ve made it longer… or wider… or both. The cattle panels sound like a fun way to achieve the arc. We used PVC pipes that were bent and connected one another in the center. Also works great. Getting them three feet into the ground was the real job. We are grateful with every wind storm that we took the time to sink them deeply though. Even the neighbors marvel that the thing still stands. One note: if it is possible, I would strongly recommend considering actual polyethylene (greenhouse) plastic over the plastic sheeting you mention. In the long run, the polyethylene will last (ours is in its fourth four-season year) and the initial higher expense eventually costs you less over time since it doesn’t need to be replace annually like the sheeting likely will. I think ours cost $220, but annually, that’s already down to $55, and there’s no indication that replacement is going to be necessary. Best of luck with the project!

    • January 12, 2014 at 9:35 am
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      Thank you so much for the advice on the greenhouse plastic – it seems well worth the additional cost! Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary

  • January 12, 2014 at 8:31 am
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    Sounds like a good plan, but I am thinking you’ll need 10 panels, 5 on each side.

    • January 12, 2014 at 8:36 am
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      Do you mean fence panels? Should only need 5 – they are 16′ long and will bend to attach to each side and span the entire distance between the two sides. Jim

  • January 12, 2014 at 8:19 am
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    It is great that you have the windows to reuse and the cattle panels are very strong – we use them for the top of our chicken run. The ‘real’ money comes when buying greenhouse grade plastic and shade cloths. Look forward to seeing the construction.

    • January 12, 2014 at 9:37 am
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      Thanks so much Judy – and yes, unfortunately I think you are right about the cost of the fabric! Jim and Mary

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