My Hoop-Frame Greenhouse In the Snow

Well, not that long ago I showed you that a hoop-frame greenhouse could survive a Canadian winter. I should probably add “so far” to the end of that statement. We had a whole pile of snow (by central Alberta standards) over the past two days and I was away and thus unable to brush off the snow that was piling up on my greenhouse. So I was a little worried when I looked out this morning and saw my greenhouse looking like this.

Buried Greenhouse

The snow had accumulated on the top enough to start bending the pvc pipes and the roof began sinking. This is what it looked like inside.

Saggy Greenhouse

On one hand, I was sad to see it getting squashed by the snow like that. But on the other hand, I was over joyed to see that although it had bent, nothing had broken! Everything was intact – just a little bent out of shape. So here’s another positive for using PVC pipe. It can bend quite a bit, still not break, and then resume it’s shape again when the pressure is off.

So I took out my shovel and scraped the snow back from the sides and brushed the snow off of the roof best I could. Some chunks were frozen to the plastic at the top, and I didn’t want to risk wrecking the plastic, so I left some up there. But the warm weather that will come eventually, hopefully, should melt that away.

While there certainly are some risks to this type of greenhouse structure (after all, I do live in Canada), and we’re not out of the woods yet (still six more months of winter… well, three at least), I still stand behind my PVC pipe greenhouse.

21 replies on “My Hoop-Frame Greenhouse In the Snow”

Merry Christmas Dave.
Good follow up on this project. One of the issues with any kind of roof profile other than an A frame is snow build up. This is a good recommend for the hoop system and is probably pretty typical. You likely chose wisely in not taking the ice off as those chunks are likely what does most plastic covers in. I waiting to see how my plain 6 mil poly will stand up but I am anticipating if we get high winds it will likely not stand up. So far so good.
Hoop houses are really catching on so hopefully covers will improve and be more readily available. Northern Greenhouses seems to be the best on the Prairies right now.


I am in michigan and have been using a seasonal hoop house. this year plan to keep up all year. did yours make it this far? we are considering changing to an A frame house instead. what kind of plastic did you use. we are considering the woven poly stuff for added strength. possibly change pvc to conduit if stay with hoop style. any information you can give for wintering is appreciated.

We sure did get a lot of snow this winter, didn’t we? Even more around your area than we did here, I think (I’m from Calgary, but until very recently my parents owned a cottage at Sylvan Lake).

LOVE your greenhouse! Glad it’s stood up! I’ve bookmarked your instructions for it too to show my aunt (who may be buying an acreage soon).

I’m a beginner when it comes to gardening. Sure, I helped my mom as a kid, but I’m not sure how much that counts, since I’ve never done it on my own (well…unless you count the rhubarb out back and the bulbs out front). As you said, “it’s a world of difference between helping your folks pull some weeds and going out and making a beautiful yard of your own.” This year I hope to venture into the world of vegetable gardening for the first time (on my own), and I was wondering which vegetables you start propagating indoors, what your method is, and how soon you start. (Maybe blog material?) Thanks!

Hey Jenna,
In a quick summary, I get an early indoor start on tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, peppers, and sometimes corn. I’ve started as early as late Feb, but I think this year will be late March. I typically start in those 1″x1″ plugs with a clear plastic lid until they out grow it. I’m also short on good south-facing windows so I have a couple of fluorescent tube lights that I hang just above the tops. It’s not the best setup, but it works. Remind me in early March to blog about my seed starting and I’ll write a post for ya with lots of pics!

Hi Dave, What’s the name of your blog? I realize you posted years ago. I’m contemplating building a greenhouse of some sort. I’m outside Edmonton AB Zone 3. Any tips? I really want to grow fresh over winter.

Hi Ashleigh: My recent adventures are posted at As for tips for a greenhouse: there are so many different kinds (and so many considerations to think through that depend on your particular situation), I think my best tip is just to do a whole of of research before you jump in! That being said, if you have some specific questions (or need help knowing what questions to ask!), I’m happy to help!

Hi Dave,
Alberta winters can be brutal,in many respects. My hoop style greenhouse from your website will be coming into it’s 3rd season this spring!!
It still has the original 6 mil plastic 🙂 Being that it is one continuous piece I think it stands up in the wind much better, than if there were any seems. Over the two seasons I have gotten small rips or holes from one thing or another, but I patch it upright away with clear Duct tape, and it’s as strong as ever. Maybe even stronger!! 🙂
We have had similar problems to yours, with accumulating snow, but my husband built some temporary supports, just for the winter, to go down the length of the building. And then we just try to watch and brush off the excess after a heavy snowfall. We’ve had some bending but never anything broken, and ours is 32 feet long.
I love my greenhouse!
Keep up the good work.

We live in MI so my husband made a greenhouse that comes apart and can be stored in the garage for the winter months. E-Z to put up AND take down. Love your photos.

hi dave we are having trouble finding the pvc pipe does it come in 20′ pieces or do you join 2 pieces together and where do i find this pipe? ty sue

Susan – I’ve heard several similar comments… I found my PVC at UFA, but I might suggest just going to a plumbing supply store. If nothing else, they will be able to tell you where to find it. Hope that helps!

i am so glad you guys posted this , your greenhouses are great. if you wanted to really boost the strengh you can slid a light rebar in the tubes. and you can buy a speacal poly ment to be uv resistant. i love the greenhouses

Forgive my ignorance, but I have two questions. Can you actually make anything grow in these greenhouses in the winter? How do you keep the ground at a temperature conducive to growing vegetables in the winter? I live in Central Ontario and would love to continue to grow my vegetable garden all year, if I could.

Louise: I actually don’t grow anything in these greenhouses during the winter. I just use them to lengthen my regular growing season. However, if you used a double layer of plastic with blown air in between layers, you could heat the greenhouse – but it might not be economical to pay for that much heat.

I am in the process of building this kind of greenhouse…I hope the snow we get here on Quadra Island, BC won’t be a problem…but I am using connectors for the PVC….t-connectors at the end and x-connectors for the middle PVC pipes…I believe this will add significant stability to the structure and only cost about 10$ more!

When do you start planting in the hoop house?? I have made small individual ones for each of my raises beds and I’m always unsure when optimal time to set them back up in spring is.

Stephanie: That really depends on the year and how well your hoops hold in the heat. (And I suppose on what your’re growing – some plants can endure much colder temps than others.) But generally speaking, here’s what I would do: I would put a thermometer out there and see how much warmer your hoops stay through the coldest part of the night. Then, based on what you think the weather is doing/going to do, you could put plants out when you feel confident your plants in your hoops won’t freeze. So for example, if your hoops stay 5º warmer than the outside temperature, you could put your plants out when the lowest anticipated temperature is -4º.

I have made small individual ones for each of my raises beds and I’m always unsure when optimal time to set them back up in spring is.

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