An Inexpensive, Hail Proof, PVC Pipe Greenhouse

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!

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!

212 replies on “An Inexpensive, Hail Proof, PVC Pipe Greenhouse”

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!!

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

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.

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….

Have you tried a Rocket Stove Mass Heater and insulation outside the perimeter with about 8 foot wide band of DRY woodchips protected with more woven poly plastic sheeting. Really cuts heat losses, dry earth insulates so well the warmth comes up from the depths of the earth. [email protected]

55 gal steel drums filled with water and painted a dark color to absorb the sun’s infra-red heat. It then gives off heat to the GH when the ?sun goes down. I have also used several 1 gal jugs to accomplish this.

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.

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?

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!

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.

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: 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.

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

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?

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…

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

How do you have the poly attached to the ends this time? I see no furring strips. And are you rolling the poly up on a 2×4 on one side to vent down low in the summer or is that just to roll it up to store it when done for season? Thanks jim southern Indiana.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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.

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

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.

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 🙂

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.

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!

Aloha from Hawaii. About ready to build new greenhouse using this design.

I am also very concerned with the foam deteriorating the plastic covering.

Anyone have suggestions ?

I am using solarig 172 for the new greenhouse

Thanks for any suggestions!

Great design !!!

Thanks for these awesome instructions. Your other greenhouse is 12×32… Could you tell me what the dimensions are for all the supplies like the wood and other things. I would love to make the same thing where we are at. AND THANKS!

I will say for those looking to heat it without electricity you can put black 55-gallon drums spaced around filled with water. Or an aluminum can solar heater.

Just read about this. Great design and idea. I suggest using treated end plywood panels instead of OSB. They last much long and non toxic now. OSB will fall apart with great moisture and you have that inside. I am going to build this and post up my changes. I am a contractor but will keep it simple. Do not get me wrong, great design. I would add using the pvc electrical conduit. It withstands UV light longer, more flexible and perhaps cheaper depending on where you are located. I am planning on running a mist system down the center of it so I will have to put center posts down it to carry the lines. It should not be too bad.

Have you built your yet? If so did you use the foam to cover the wood also? Can you post if you have it finished?

Thank you for sharing your design, supplies needed, with instructions and pics. I am going to attempt building this and will let you know how it goes.

I’d like to know the size of woven poly that u ased to build your green house
Being in Edmonton i would have to order it from northern greenhouse because i didn’t find anything thicker then 8 mil anywhere close enough

Its criminal what PVC costs in Canada.

I drive to NY state (10 minute drive) and go to home depot there, 1.84USD for a 10FT 3/4 480PSI… home depot here, 10.50

Some people seem concerned about the foam padding on the end walls rotting their plastic,

I have not done this, but why couldn’t a guy just take a piece of 1/2″ pvc conduit and slit it lengthwise on a tablesaw and slip it over the end wood? That should fit and protect well.

Hi Dave it has been a few years since you built this green house. Could you up date us on how it is lasting? Maybe post a picture. This looks like something I could do myself. I think I will try building it in the spring. Thanks for the inspiration! Sylvia

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