Custom Built PVC Hoop House

Hoop House
Credit: personal photo

Building a hoop house for your garden is an easy DIY project that can greatly increase your gardens productivity and extend your season by a month under the right conditions.  This particular hoop house is designed for a 3 foot raised garden bed made out of lumber.  The basic design principles outlined here will be helpful but not directly applicable unless you have a lumber raised garden bed with a growing space of three feet. 

Getting Started...

The first step in any building project is to get the materials together so you have what you need to complete the project.  This material list is enough to build one four foot by three foot hoop house area.

  • Two ten foot 1/2 inch pvc pipes
  • Four 3/4 inch emt two hole straps
  • Eight 1/2-3/4 inch wood screws
  • Plastic sheeting large enough to cover the hoops

Step One

The first step after you have assembled all the materials is to attach the the four 3/4 emt straps to the lumber garden beds.  In my particular hoop house I spaced the the emt straps at four foot intervals with two in the corners and two more four feet away.  The alignment of the straps  is critical to maintain tension on the hoops and the plastic sheeting you will be attaching to it.  They will need to be attached directly across from each other so everything can line up.  The straps should be screwed into the wood using the 1/2-3/4 inch wood screws at the top inside edge of the lumber.  Placing the straps on the inside of the lumber is a good idea as it hold the pvc pipe in place and allows the pvc to press itself into the wood.

Step Two

The next step is to cut the 10 foot pvc pipes down to the correct size.  For the spacing of three feet I have found that removing about 30 inches off the end of the pipe is sufficient.  With about 90 inches of pipe remaining you can easily bend the pipe by placing it in one of the emt straps and then placing it in the other on the opposite side of the lumber garden beds.  

Repeat step as needed until you have all the hoops in place.

Step Three

Attach the plastic sheeting. 

Oh if it was only so easy. 

Attaching the plastic to the hoop houses can be a very challenging prospect I discovered in this project.  The two materials don't grip each other well and attaching them to one another requires some finesse.  The easiest method I found was to attach the sides using duct tape as reinforcement and zip ties wrapped around the pvc and through the duct tape reinforcements to attach them to the hoops.   

Zip Tie Reinforcements
Credit: personal photos

This method is crude and frankly I am not sure how well it will hold up to use and the elements.  I would like to have tried something with gromets and folded plastic that when combined with zip ties would provide a very secure hold and it would look better.

After the sides were attached the next step is to  attach a separate sheet of plastic to the top of the hoops.  The back of the top is attached in a similar manner to the sides and you can even use the same zip ties to attach to both to the pvc hoops as I have in the image above.  In order to make the front flap able to open you simply have to attach it in a way that is easy to remove.  I chose to use spare wood clamps that attach with enough pressure to securely hold the plastic but are easy to remove and place elsewhere. 

 The final step in this particular build is to weigh down any loose edges of the plastic so the wind can't catch them and tear your new hoop house to shreds. 

So to recap...

  1. Attach the emt straps to raised bed frame
  2. Cut the pvc to 90 inches
  3. Place pvc into straps
  4. Attach plastic and weigh down edges

Building a hoop house whether it's one section like mine or a long ling of hoops is an way to  extend your growing season.  The materials are cheap and easy to work with though they do have certain negative environmental impact.  For that reason hoop houses should be considered a stepping stone method to other ways of more permanent season extension.