Building a Hoophouse on a Budget

Hi Lovelies,

This is the 12’x10′ hoophouse filled with ranunculus and anemones. As long as I was willing to go out and knock the snow off every couple hours, it handled about 3ft. pretty well.

Now that all of the zinnia beds are gross, and dahlias are in danger of being wiped out by frost at anytime, I’ve finally gotten around to starting to think about fixing up my sweet little hoophouse. Since I’m currently a city-dweller, there’s absolutely no possible way that I’d have room for a legitimate unheated house that you’d find on a real farm. Not to mention – the money. As someone who sold the vast majority of their belongings on eBay last year to even make starting this dream remotely possible, getting a real hoophouse will just have to stay on my wishlist for awhile.

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This was the only issue I had last year in the large house. When I glued each of the 10′ pipes together with a fitting, this one didn’t completely secure. I noticed at the time, but didn’t think it would matter – it did! Luckily, I was able to fix it with my trusty duct tape! This happened during a spring thunderstorm with about 60mph winds.

I’ve seen quite a few variations out there, to say the least. I think most people have seen low tunnels made from conduit. While this is a nice, strong material – I’d also need a conduit bender which will run about $40. There are also some very nice low tunnels made by anchoring PVC into rebar driven into the ground. I think this is totally something I’ll tackle in the future when I have the real space to justify multiple rows of crops that need cover. But, since my hoophouse would only be temporary, I wasn’t too sure that those would be my best option.

This smaller house (6′ x 12′) fit perfectly on my raised bed. You can see the lumber frame, with conduit straps attached along the inside. Pipes slide into the straps and are secure across. Poly plastic is secured down the side using a staple gun. This held the plastic secured all winter long without tearing. When deciding the width and bending the PVC, I made sure that the arch was not too extreme, I think that would have put a lot of stress on the pipe.

1007151135cIf there’s a will – there’s a way. I took to the internet in search of the simplest solution that I could find, and managed to tweak one idea quite a bit in order to best suit my needs. My first hoopho1007151135use was designed to be placed over the top of, and secured to, a small raised bed – back in my veggie lovin’ days. Most recently, I’ve expanded the same general plan to create a larger house in which I’m able to walk in and enjoy – unlike low tunnels you might see.

Having seen one of the worst winters I can remember last year, in terms of cold, snow and some wind – I think the design I settled on is fairly reliable. In fact, it wasn’t until mid September that things (mainly the poly, which is pretty cheap at the home improvement store) needed to be replaced. Though, having said that, I realize that everyone’s yard is different than my own.

The first year, I secured the skeleton with duct tape (I’m cheap, I can’t help it), but zip ties seemed to work much better. After building, I realized that I definitely needed to stake the entire structure down, just in case of wind or anything else that may have caused to shift. A few horizontal PVC pipes gave the skeleton a little extra structure that it needed. Two 10′ PVC were connected in the middle and then arched across to create about a 7′ height.

The materials I used are as follows: PVC pipe, PVC glue, boards, conduit straps, zip ties, a staple gun, and 6 mil poly plastic. In order to secure the end pieces of plastic on the large hoophouse, I ordered several row cover snap clips – which did the job perfectly.

In the end, I was able to build a 12’x10′ hoophouse for around $40. I did have some of the supplies on hand already, but all things considered – this was still a pretty cheap alternative when it comes to a real structure that I was able to walk into, pull weeds in, and enjoy. Last year, it was successfully home to around 500 ranunculus, 500 anemones, and one row of tulips. I’m so eager to fill it with spring beauty again this year!

Have you ever built a hoophouse? How did you do it? I’d love to know! Hope you’re having a great day, much love!