How to Build an Inexpensive Hoop-Style Greenhouse

One of the most valuable assets in my garden is my greenhouse. It has allowed me to grow plants that I normally would not be able to grow, produce crops that the season is not usually long enough to produce, and protect my plants from frosts, hail, or other severe weather that normally would have destroyed my garden.

But I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on a greenhouse. I just priced out an 8’x12’ greenhouse for $3,500. I would love to have a large, professional greenhouse, but that simply isn’t financially feasible for me. So, instead I’ve found a way to make a large greenhouse that is functional, easy to build, and inexpensive. This article will explain to you exactly how to build a 12’x32’ hoop-style greenhouse for under $400.

Required Materials List

Note: All wood should be green, treated wood to resist rot. (Or you can spend more money and buy a rot resistant type of lumber such as cedar.)

  • (4) 2×6 – 16’
  • (2) 2×6 – 12’
  • (14) 2×4 – 12’
  • (19) ¾” x 20’white pvc pipe
  • (9) 10mm x 10’ rebar
  • (1) 20’x50’ roll of 6mm plastic
  • (1) Bundle of 50 4’ wood lathe (or optional staples)
  • Zip ties
  • Nails or screws
  • Metal banding
  • Door hinges and handles

Step 1 – Laying Out the Frame

Using the 2x6s, lay out and put together your 12’x32’ frame. (You can join the two 16’ pieces with a 2’ piece of 2×4.)

Ensure that the frame is square by measuring diagonally across it. You can temporarily keep the frame in place by pounding a 30” piece of rebar in each corner. (You can pull these out to use them in the next step.)

Building a hoop-style greenhouse

Step 2 – Adding the Hoops

Cut each 10’ piece of rebar into four 30” pieces of rebar. This will give you thirty-four pieces. Pound the rebar into the ground about 15” deep on the outside of your frame at two foot intervals. This will leave 15” sticking up out of the ground.

Pound in rebar

Now slide both ends of your pvc pipe over the rebar to make a hoop across the width of your greenhouse.

Put on the hoops

Attach the pvc pipe to the 2x6s by screwing short pieces of metal banding around the pipe.

Strap the pipe to the 2x6

Step 3 – Building the Ends

Cut the following pieces out of your 12’ 2x4s:

  • (2) 11’8¾”
  • (4) 1’6″
  • (4) 4’7″
  • (4) 5’7″
  • (8) 1’11¼”
  • (2) 4’¼”

For each end, assemble the wall according to the following diagram.

Greenhouse diagram

Place this wall within the 2×6 frame and nail/screw in place.

Cut (4) 28” 2×4 pieces. Cut one end at a 45º angle. Use these pieces to brace the wall.

Strap the pipe to the 2x6

Once all of the hoops and the two ends are in place, connect two pvc pipes together and cut them to measure 32′ long. This will be the rib that will go along the top of your hoops. You can attach this rib with plastic zip ties.

Zip tie the top rib

The finished rib

Step 4 – Covering the Greenhouse with Plastic

If you are going to use wood lathe, cut 32 pieces of 20” lathe. These will secure the plastic to the sides of the 2×6 frame in between each hoop. Or optionally, you can use staples, though they may have a tendency to pull through the plastic.

Drape the plastic over the length of the greenhouse. Be sure to have enough overlap at the ends to cover the end walls. Pull the plastic snug and attach to the 2x6s at one end using the wood lathe or staples. Go to the other end, pull snug, and attach in a similar manner. Do this at the center, and then along the rest of the length of the greenhouse.

Covering the greenhouse

Note: If you can do this in warm weather, there will be less sagging later. Make it as snug as you can without causing damage to the plastic.

Attaching the plastic

To attach the plastic to the ends, pull the plastic straight down, and attach with lathe. Then pull the plastic out to the sides. This will give you extra plastic along the outside edge. Fold the plastic back towards the center and attach. For the end with the door, cut out the plastic leaving a few inches of over hang to wrap inside and attach.

The ends with plastic

Step 5 – Adding the Door

Before you cut your pieces, check the actual measurements for the space you have. Your wall may sit a little different than mine. It’s always better to go a little small or your door may not fit. But if the measurements are the same, cut the following pieces out of your 12’ 2x4s:

  • (2) 4’11”
  • (2) 3’9″

Nail these together to make your door frame. Lay a 2×4 diagonally across the frame and nail in place. Trim off anything that hangs over the frame of the door. This will be on the inside of your door. Too much wood hanging over will jam your door. Attach the hinges to the door frame.

plastic on the door

Cover the outside of the door with remaining plastic or you can use plywood if you would rather. You can attach the plastic with the wood lathe or staples. There should be about 4” of overhang of plastic on all sides.

Attach the door handles to the door. Mount the door to the frame.

The finished greenhouse

And there you go! You can have a beautiful 12’x32’ hoop-style greenhouse that can be built in a weekend and all for less than $400.


Update: July 11th, 2008

To see just how well this greenhouse works, see my July Greenhouse Update.

Update August 5, 2009

For an new and improved version, see An Inexpensive, Hail Proof, PVC Pipe Greenhouse.

Update November 29, 2010

Improved design. Changed material list from half inch PVC to three-quarter inch PVC.

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406 Responses to How to Build an Inexpensive Hoop-Style Greenhouse

  1. Linda says:

    Want to see about using this hoop style for summer garden cover in southern Nevada where temps are pretty warm – thinking about shade cloth cover for summer due to open space and poly for winter where temps are not usually below about 26 degrees. What do you think? Might we be better off using]g a pergola style cover made of lumber?

    • Teresa says:

      I live in Austin Texas where it can get very hot, we used garden fabric and bamboo sticks to provide some shade but still allows the plant some light and air. It almost the end of December, and I still have all my plants from March.

  2. Jerry Kies says:

    Thank you for the way to have a hoop style greenhouse on a budget……for people like myself with multiple children on a budget that would like to get a headstart on their backyard gardens in climatic areas such as michigan where growing season is usually limited

  3. roland says:

    What weight? on the pvc pipe

  4. Nathan says:

    Well I finally finished my Greenhouse.
    I made mine 12′ X 20′ and I thought it would come in Under $400 due to less materials.
    However, I just totaled it all up: $657.47 Plus $78.89 tax.
    Now I do admit, I live on Vancouver Island where everything costs more than anywhere else in the already greedy B.C. (Bring Cash).
    But aside from the shocking cost, the greenhouse is amazing! Now to load it up with great veggies and such.
    Thanks for the great design!

    • Mark says:

      No surprise that prices might vary greatly from 2008 to now.

      It’s hard to imagine any level of the B.C. government could hold a candle to Alberta’s institutionalized greed.

      (stumbled upon the article… good of the people involved to do such a good job in many regards.)

  5. Dennis says:

    Aahh Great info guys!

    I’m planning on a start to greenhouse farming later on in the year and I can’t thank you enough for the eye-opener on a much cheaper alternative to a standard greenhouse.

    I’m wondering if you could help me with establishing the measurements, materials and general info for construction of a 8×15 metre hoop house-style greenhouse. I want to put it up for And add a drip irrigation system, maybe.

    Would you be my consultants? You got my email address. Hoping this is not too much to ask. Thanks a load.

  6. Kaayla says:

    Hi there;
    I built my hoop greenhouse, in April 2015, here in Calgary in my backyard. It is 10 feet, by 4 feet, and stands about 4 ft tall…I got the PVC pipe in 10 foot lengths for $4.10 at Rona, the plastic I already had a roll for the insulation in the basement…pretty thick stuff too. It cost me about $30. and my garden is already up, and I would say I am about 2 months ahead of my neighbors. They all told me I was too early planting…now they are kicking their own butts..LOL My family is all looking forward to fresh veggies. We are looking at building a 2nd one for the potatoes and watermelon, so that will be next.

  7. cal says:

    Im not seeing at what length is the PVC pipe cut into.Could you provide me with a length anyone?

  8. Anita Mattsson says:

    lovely hoophouse! Now I want u

  9. If you choose to use treated wood keep it away from anything you plan to eat. The wood uses very high concentrations of copper (older pressure treated also used arsenic). The plants can take up these things which you are then eating. Also, sometimes it causes stunting of the plants.
    A much better option is redwood or cedar which are naturally rot and insect resistant.

  10. Bea gee says:

    Just wondering how early you can plant in this?

  11. cindy says:

    Just a note. I have a huge problem with gophers, found a solution to the problem was to use plastic kiddie pools for planters box instead of the typical wood frame. This works perfectly, they don’t chew through and it actually costs less.

  12. rosh says:

    How do you heat your greenhouse in winter when its -30. I would like to know that please as I have an aquaponics system that I want to move it from my garage in put it in a greenhouse.


    • Dave says:

      Rosh: I don’t! I only extend my growing season by a few weeks on either end. It’s just not economical to heat throughout the winter.

  13. AL says:

    That is a great set of plans, lots of details, a design that will be perfect for my situation in E TN. If I may offer a question/suggestion – I am thinking the re-bars ought to go inside the wooden border so that the stretched plastic will remain flush with the wooden border when tacking it in place – also, the wooden border might provide just a bit more reinforcement to the pvc pipe.
    Also, regarding the center brace, might the installation to the outside of the ribs give just a bit more support to the plastic sheeting along the length of the house? Did you find the one length of center bracing to be enough or would an additional 2 pvc pipes maybe half way down the ribs would add a bit more stiffness to the structure?
    I might have missed it, but what dimensions and thickness plastic sheeting did you use?

  14. lori says:

    what size plastic would I need for this project? I love it and wat to build oe so I ca have my garde that deer ad critter won’t get into.

    • Dave says:

      Lori: The material list includes a 20’x50′ roll of plastic. However, that is a little more than absolutely necessary. You probably want to have two feet of extra material on each edge, so for a 12×32 greenhouse, you would want your plastic to be at least 16’x36′

  15. Denis says:

    This looks great. One question, how has held up to elements? (Wind, snow, etc). Also, if in a windy area, would more top ribbing (on the sides) help or would that be pointless?

    • Dave says:

      Hi Denis – Since this post, I’ve updated my design a bit. You can read that here. With the added features in that design, plus a 2×4 across the top with a single support pole in the center (to help hold up snow), this design holds up really well! I don’t think wind is any issue. Snow load seems to be the biggest concern. The one thing you could do to further support the snow load is to run rebar the full length inside the pvc pipes. But with the center beam like I’ve described, I don’t even think that’s necessary.

  16. Mark says:

    When not in use during the winter, will the greenhouse withstand heavy snow and ice?

  17. […] at Alberta Home Gardening shows us that you can afford to build a greenhouse. His greenhouse is 12′ x 32′ and […]

    • Dave says:

      Sam: Hmm, sorry. I don’t think I have a picture of that. We moved last October. But basically, in the picture that shows the pvc rib going across the top, replace that with a 2×4. Then support it in the middle with a pole that run from the 2×4 down to the ground.

  18. Annie L says:

    I live on an acreage near Okotoks and I am considering building one of these. How do they stand up to the strong winds? I see them all over, so quite well I guess but in which direction should I orientate it, bearing in mind our patch of land is not well treed and sheltered yet?
    Thank you for any advice.

    • Dave says:

      Annie L: Yes – these greenhouses stand up quite well. Typically, an east/west orientation is the best, but you’d have to take into account the factors at your particular site like wind and shade. If you are going to be planting trees or putting up other buildings, be sure not to put your greenhouse where it will be shaded by those things.

      • Annie L says:

        Thank you, Dave,
        I have also seen the updated version too, and have another question too please.
        How do you join the seams, or what width should I order.
        I have no shelter belt, and wonder whether the wind would work in and start to work gaps into the joins?
        Many thanks for all your advice.

        • Dave says:

          Annie L: When you order from, you just give them your total size and they will take care of the seams – sending you one large piece. You would have no seams to worry about. I would order a piece that is 2′ longer and 2′ wider than what your actual dimensions are. (That will give you an extra foot on each side.)

  19. Annie L says:

    Edit to above,
    I mean how do I join the poly woven material please.

    • Waldi says:

      I use the same poly supplier, great material. Built one tunnel couple year ago, now I am planning to built bigger one, but with double wall to extend the season a bit longer. Will use woven poly outside and standard plastic film 3.5 mil for inside. Wonder if anyone has attempted double wall construction for tunnel, without using blower. I ma building tunnel on top of raised bed and it will be 5′ wide,~6’toll, 15′ long. I hope 4-5″ space between layers of poly will provide extra insulation.

  20. 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.
    Appreciate your innovation.

    • Dave says:

      Claire: Yes, I used schedule 40 pvc – and I found the 20′ lengths in a few places – co-op, UFA, and Home Depot. But 20′ lengths are much harder to find these days. (This was several years ago now.) You’ll likely have to talk to a wholesaler or plumber for the 20′.

  21. Annie L says:

    Once again, thank you for this really helpful advice. I am feeling quite excited about building a greenhouse now. The sooner, the better!
    Happy growing and best wishes

  22. Melissa says:

    What about heavy winters and snow? I live in New York State and it gets cold and heavy snow. Will this pvc hold up to hard winters?

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