Have you ever wanted to start your garden a little early or extend it a little longer in the fall? Here’s an easy design I use to set up a simple hoop house. It’s spring and still very cold here on the farm this year. I went in the hoop house yesterday to water the garden beds and it was nice and toasting in there, with the soil warm as well.
This year we are starting a few small beds of lettuce early for the farmers market. We haven’t participated in a farmer’s market for some time, and we thought we would give it a go again this year. The hoop house is helping us get a head start.
As a general description, the hoop house is made of PVC pipe bent in a half moon shape and secured by placing the PVC ends over rebar stakes driven into the ground with the whole structure covered with 4-mil or 6-mil UV protected poly film sheeting. The width of the hoop house is about 12 feet allowing for two lateral planting beds about 5 feet wide with a walkway in between. You can make it as long or short as you want depending on your garden size and budget just by adding additional PVC sections.
With the help of a friend, this hoop house structure is fairly easy to setup and take down. One person can do most of the setup, but it is helpful to have a friend when putting on the sheeting cover.
Here are more specifics on the parts and setup directions.
- 1” schedule 40 PVC pipe cut to 18 foot lengths
They usually are sold as 20 foot lengths that can be cut to 18 foot. Accounting for 2.5 or 3 foot spacing between PVC sections, buy as much pipe as you need for the house length you want and maybe one or two extra just in case.
- ½” rebar cut to 18” lengths
You’ll need 2 rebar stakes for each PVC section.
- 4-mil or 6-mil 20 foot wide UV protected poly film sheeting ordered to the length you need.
I purchased my sheeting from G&M Agricultural Supply Company. They have good products at reasonable prices, but you can get the sheeting from any greenhouse supplier. There are different ways to block off the ends of the hoop house. The simplest for me is to buy extra sheeting length and cover the ends with the additional sheeting as shown in the picture.
- Gather all parts to your garden area.
- At the head of the garden area to be covered, drive one 18” rebar stake into the ground 12” deep, leaving 6” above ground. On the opposite, parallel side 12 feet apart, drive the other rebar stake into the ground to the same depth. This will make 1 PVC anchor section.
- Repeat step 2 for the number of sections you want, spacing the sections 2.5 to 3 feet apart. If you space the sections too far apart, the cover could sag with heavy rain or snow. It’s better to have them a little closer together to avoid needing a top lateral support.
- Place 1 PCV pipe over the first rebar stake, then bend the pipe and place the other end over the opposite rebar stake to make a section.
- Repeat step 4 for each PVC section. Your PVC structure is now in place.
(Optional) Dig or till a small trench along the outside of each side of the hoop house placing the dirt on the ground next to the trench as you go. You’ll use the dirt to weigh down the sheeting to keep it secure and in place. I have found this method to work really well especially in high winds.
- With the help of a friend, roll and spread out the poly film covering. Ensuring you have the UV protection side facing on the outside of the structure exposed to the sun, cover the hoop house with the sheeting allowing for overhang on the ends. You should have about 1 foot of extra sheeting at the bottom on both sides of the hoop house.
- Secure the sheeting by either using soft twine for each section or my preferred method of backfilling the dugout dirt on top of the 1 foot overhang. Using the dirt method, first backfill one side of the house and then backfill the other side while having you helper keep the sheeting tight over the structure.
Almost done. Now tighten and secure the ends of the hoop house using either the dirt method or putting weights on the sheeting. You’ll want to be able to get inside the hoop house and also vent it when it gets too hot inside. I just used some weed clods I dug up out of some other beds as my weights killing two birds with one stone.
That’s it! Now you are ready to prepare your hoop house garden beds and start planting.
It may seem like a lot of steps, but it really is very easy to set up. Olivia and I set up ours in about an hour. Digging the trench took the longest time.
Enter a comment below if you have any questions or need further guidance. Happy hoop housing!