We love seeing DIY greenhouse projects that save tons of money, especially when it comes to something as awesomely functional as a greenhouse. David LaFerney at The Door Garden shows how to build a hoop greenhouse on the cheap. He did it for less than $50!
UPDATE: we get lots of comments about the $50 price tag of this greenhouse build. Keep in mind, this particular hoop house was built using many upcycled and free materials – which is key to keeping costs down. In David’s words – “First off – you really can build this thing very cheaply, but to do so you have to recycle, freecycle, and scrounge. If you just go out and buy new everything it will probably cost just over $200 – still not bad all in all.”
Hoop house greenhouses are great for extending the growing season in cold climates and are much cheaper and easier to build than glass greenhouses.
Because they are such a simple concept – a hoop-shaped structure made with plastic or metal framing that is covered in clear plastic – they make a great, inexpensive DIY project with plenty of flexibility for experimentation.
At 165 square feet, this is a nice-sized greenhouse with plenty of space for growing plants.
David has two built-in plant beds along each side of the greenhouse, in which he grows spinach, lettuce, and other plants year-round. Free-standing shelves could easily be added to this design for additional planting space for starting seeds or for overwintering potted plants.
It is absolutely possible to build a greenhouse like this for cheap. David had many of the materials on hand, which saved a lot of money. But even if you had to go out and buy all new materials, the cost would only amount to about $200, which is much cheaper than buying a kit for a similar-sized greenhouse.
By repurposing materials you might already have on hand and checking places like Freecycle and Craigslist, you could obtain many of these materials for cheap or free.
David began by building the two end pieces of the greenhouse frame out of wood. He then added the 20 foot PVP pipes that give the greenhouse its hoop shape. These same 20 foot PVC pieces make up the “ribs” of the greenhouse between the two end pieces.
This greenhouse is 11 feet wide, 15 feet long, and about seven and a half feet tall. This same concept can be used to make a greenhouse as long or short as you want, but with this design, the width will need to be between 10-12 feet.
At this width, there is not a very steep sloping edge on the interior sides of the greenhouse, like many hoop greenhouses have. This gentle slope leaves much more usable space along the edges for planting.
Another advantage to keeping the sides of the greenhouse steep, as opposed to a wider, flatter design, is that snow and rainwater is more likely to fall down the sides rather than piling up on top, which could cause the greenhouse to collapse.
The end pieces were placed and stabilized in a level location and the middle pipe pieces were added to complete the frame of the greenhouse. Once everything was secured with wood and screws, the greenhouse was ready for plastic.
There are many options for plastic to use when covering a hoop greenhouse. In this case, non-UV stabilized 6 mil clear plastic sheeting from a lumberyard was used.
David provides a full, detailed tutorial showing how to build a hoop greenhouse, step by step, at The Door Garden. Be sure to check out his updated comments about what worked well with this design and what needed improvements, as well as other ideas on how to implement similar structures in your own backyard.