An Inexpensive, Hail Proof, PVC Pipe Greenhouse

I’ve finally built my greenhouse for my new garden. It’s a twenty by twelve foot hoop-style greenhouse with wooden ends and is covered with 11 mil woven poly. This greenhouse has some pretty cool features that I really appreciate, and I think you will too.

My third hoop style greenhouse

First of all, the poly I used to cover it is fantastic. It is a super tough woven poly that I got from Northern Greenhouse out of Manitoba. How tough is it? Well, my brother (who operates the Saskaberry Ranch near Sundre) just got pounded by hail last Sunday. The hail broke windows, shredded siding, and striped everything off of his saskatoon and raspberry bushes – but his greenhouse covered with this same woven poly was completely undamaged! Amazing! (I’ll try to post a picture if I can get one.)

Secondly, to eliminate wear and tear on the plastic, I covered edges of the wooden ends with copper pipe insulation. This foam protects the poly from the sharp edges of the wood.

Insultation on greenhouse

Thirdly, it was very inexpensive and easy to build. The lumber was under $100, the poly was just over $200, and the pvc pipes were under $100. By the time I got all the misc. stuff, I was still under $500 total. Not bad, eh?

My third hoop style greenhouse

Being so late I only got a single row of tomatoes down one side, but next year I’ll be bursting at the seams once again! If you want to build a greenhouse like this one, check out my previous post that gives step by step instructions for building this same greenhouse. Since I’ve improved the design since then, I would recommend the following changes:

  • Use wooden ends instead of plastic – and cover the ends with pipe insulation.
  • Use 11 mil woven poly instead of the 6 mil.
  • Put the PVC pipes on the inside of the frame rather than on the outside

Other than that, you should be able to follow all the other steps. If you do follow this design, be sure to leave me a comment – I’d love to hear (and see) what you’ve been doing!

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194 Responses to An Inexpensive, Hail Proof, PVC Pipe Greenhouse

  1. This was a brillant idead. We found your stranslated site (he did it with an awful translation by google) and I tried to find the original site. Finally I did. We built (2 friends in 2 different houses) saperately 2 greenhouses. he did it with yuour previous desing nad I built with your revised plan. Used OSB on the sides. Use PPRC composite pipes. Finally I finished it yesterday. the web site is facebook album. If you can’t see the pictures please e-mail me. Thank you for encoriging us.

  2. Gee says:

    Great idea. If I want to turn this into a lean too greenhouse instead of full hoop would you change anything? Thank you

  3. Paul says:

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for sharing your great idea!
    I’ve two questions: 1)- How do you protect your green house during the winter (I mean wind and snow)? 2) – What would be the durability (How many years) you think of this kind of greenhouse?
    regards,
    Paul

    • Dave says:

      Paul – I added a wooden beam across the top of my greenhouse. That gives it the necessary strength to withstand the winter’s snowload – wind is not an issue. So far, I’ve had my greenhouse for six year now I think and it’s still going strong.

  4. Carolyn Tanner says:

    Dave on the second version you used wood on the ends, but did you use pvc on the ends also or just wood. We love the site and are building ours for growing all year. Very excited to use your ideas. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Dave says:

      Carolyn – There is just the wood panels on the end covered with that pipe insulation to protect the poly.

  5. Sherry Sousley says:

    Do you heat this? I live in Missouri so my winters are way milder then yours but I worry about plants freezing without some type of heat. That is the only thing holding me back is how to heat the thing so I can grow all winter. Thank you.

    • Dave says:

      Sherry: Sometimes I will put a small space heater in overnight when the early frosts come in September (or August!) but generally I don’t heat it. Too expensive….

  6. breanna says:

    So can you plant your garden in fall and it will continue growing all throughout the winter?

    • Dave says:

      Breanna: No. This will extend my growing season by a few weeks on either end, but I can’t grow year-round unless I heat it. That would be too costly for me.

  7. Kim says:

    Hey Dave,
    Thank you so much for this information. I live in Northern Alberta and am planning to make this for next year. How many sheets of OSB did you use for the ends. And did you make table or plant directly in the ground?

    • Dave says:

      Kim: I believe I used three sheets of plywood total – 1.5 for each end. I just planted directing in the grown – but you could certainly use tables. Happy Growing!

  8. Roy says:

    a suggestion use spun bond material if you can find it. it lasts for years and years, I have a piece that has been on the ground for over 20 years and has not deteriorated, it will withstand wind and hail, snow and lets water through and light. I use it over my poly, it ads a insulating quality and great durability and helps block some of he heat from the sun in the late spring and summer. I don’t know where you can find it, I get mine from a local factory as overruns.

  9. Cam McIntosh says:

    Could you get Dave to post a photo close up of that spun fabric he used on his hoop green house? Maybe he could ask at the factory the trade name and supplier. They are usually good to give information if you tell them why you need it. (no competition) I am sure many others want the name too! Thank you.
    Cam

    • Dave says:

      Cam: You’re referring to the poly covering, I presume? I don’t have a close-up photo of that, but it comes from Northern Greenhouse. I believe they send you a sample when you request a catalog.

  10. Joe says:

    Your said you would recomend wooden ends. Des it help improve stability allot? What about shading in the greenhouse? was there a significant change?

  11. Pamela Willis says:

    Hi – Great information! I am wondering what you estimate the maximum width/length of a pvc pipe greenhouse might be? Do you think it is possible to construct something stable that is – say – 16’wide by 60’long using pvc pipe, plumbing connectors, rebar and wooden ends? I wonder if the inclusion of a wooden ridge pole and some interior posts would make it strong enough? Your thoughts?

    • Dave says:

      Hi Pamela: Certainly! I think you would certainly want that ridged center beam with support posts, otherwise 16′ wide might allow too much snow to accumulate on top. As for length, it should still be stable, but at 60′ long, you’ll certainly need some modification to allow enough air flow. Maybe sides that roll up or a full ventilation system…

  12. Dante W. says:

    I was thinking about building one of these guys for my self, but I would like to have a separating wall inside. I am looking to make two rooms inside for different temperature control. How might I go about this? I was thinking of making a wall like the two exterior walls, but how would I keep this tight so I wont have any air leaks between the two rooms?

  13. Hi,
    I am doing some research on green houses and I have a few questions. How much food are you able to grow in a year in the twenty by twenty foot hoop-style green house that you built? Also, what would be the rough yearly costs of operating the structure (heat,lights,electricity,water)
    If you can email me back this info would be very helpful.

    • Dave says:

      Sandra: This greenhouse is actually just 12’x20′ – I have no heat or lights. This is just a hobby greenhouse – I just use it to extend my growing season by a few weeks. You would probably need to contact a commercial grower to find the answers for your questions.

      • Ken Bourne says:

        Sandra, I have a similar greenhouse in central BC the size is 15 feet X 32 feet. My yields without heat are as follows- tomatoes (Money maker) 50 plants 6oolbs- cucumbers(on straw bales) 20 plants yield 500 lbs. lettuce butterhead 10 dozen ( 3 crops) peppers red green and some hot- can’t remember the exact numbers. There are three raised beds in the green house each one 3 feet wide. I also grow abot 20 sweet corn plants in pots which I put outside during the day and take in at night. I also grow runner beans in the some pots and they climb up the corn. I use the same covering from Northern greenhouse and have had mine for over 10 years.

        • Ken Bourne says:

          OOPS! That should be 500 cucumbers.

        • Pauline Buist says:

          Hi Ken, a friend and I are looking into PVC piping for a 15 X 32 feet green house however we are having issues finding pic pipe longer than 10ft. Can you tell me if you used schedule 40 PVC pipe and in what lengths did you get them. If it is in 10ft lengths how did you join them together and is there an issue with rubbing of poly on the raised edges of the joins.

  14. Danielle says:

    What about the interaction between the pvc and greenhouse film, causing early wear?

    • Dave says:

      I’ve only used the 11mil woven poly – and I haven’t had any issue. The white pvc shouldn’t cause any more wear than steel pipes (as most greenhouse have).

  15. Claire says:

    You say you used 3/4″ white pvc @ 20′ lengths. What schedule (flexibility) was the pvc, and where did you find 20′ lengths – I can only find 10′ lengths, which are schedule 40. Also, would 1″ do ok for this project?

    • Kelly says:

      Hi Clare
      I could only find the 10 foot pvc too but we put a piece of dowel to join them and put the pipe over a beam to secure it… It worked very well and cheaper.

      • Pauline Buist says:

        HI Kelly, was it Schedule 40 PVC piping and have you found any issues with wear of the poly where the pipes join? How long have you had your greenhouse up?

    • Mike says:

      1″ works great as well. Makes for a stonger and more stable hoop. I used the 10′ lengths, got them from Home depot. There is a bell at the end to fit the next piece into and I had no problems.

  16. Laura says:

    How did you attach the plastic to the wooden ends? Did you just staple it. I went on a your of Eric Coleman’s place and he had row covered crops inside of his greenhouse which made him able to grow things like spinach all winter. He lives in Maine and wrote a couple books on year round gardening. I’d like to build this and try his method.

  17. Grant Jameson says:

    Dave, any recommendations for vetilation…i’m concerned that sealed up for days between visits could build up moisture…fungus, moss, etc. Thanks.

    • Dave says:

      Grant: I usually leave the doors open during the summer. That gives plenty ventilation. If you were going to have everything closed up, you might want to make the poly on the sides able to be rolled up.

  18. Linda says:

    How did you attach the poly to the ends of the greenhouse

  19. didi says:

    hi dave! i really like this greenhouse design. how would you go about adding a vent to this instead of opening the door or rolling up the plastic? thanks 🙂

    • Dave says:

      Didi – With this design, it would be hard to add a roof-vent, but you could add two vents in the end walls or doors – one up high to let the hot air out and one down low to let the cooler air in.

  20. Sandy B. says:

    Happy to find a PVC greenhouse article written by a northerner! I’m in the Michigan Upper Peninsula and have a small (7×15 feet) steel-frame hoop house that has worked so well I want to add a 16×20-foot structure. Just wanted to comment about using the foam pipe insulation to cover the edges of the wood end – I tried putting this over the top of the steel hoops to protect the plastic but found that the cover deteriorated very quickly where it came into contact with the foam. Happy gardening, everyone!

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