How many times have you thought about building a DIY greenhouse, but have been put off by the cost or complexity?
Greenhouses are great ways to grow amazing fruits and vegetables to supplement your emergency food supplies. With just basic carpentry skills, you can build a greenhouse that produces a wide variety of foods very inexpensively and consistently all year long—or at the very least, longer than your average growing season.
But if you’ve been cruising local retailers and the Internet for ideas, you may be daunted by how complex and expensive many greenhouse projects can be. Many hardware stores sell greenhouse plans and materials—but according to Forbes Home, those prices can range from $2500 to $25,000.
For many people, that’s out of their price range.
So we found a really great alternative.
For many years, prepsteaders (preppers and homesteaders) have been building comparatively inexpensive hoop-style greenhouses.
These designs incorporate the use of cattle panels to create a hoop style structure, and then some type of walls and doors/windows at each end.
Clear plastic Mylar is laid over the hoops and secured.
But there’s a potential downside: using typical cattle panels, the resulting hoop leaves you little headroom. But we found a DIY-er who solved that with a simple twist.
The Hoop-Style Greenhouse By An Alaskan Homesteader
The Watson family in Willow, AK was searching for an inexpensive, spacious greenhouse that they could build themselves. They also wanted more headroom, so they came up with a solution: instead of resting the hoops on the ground, they built a 2-foot tall stub wall out of cheap lumber, and attached the hoops to that.
For a step-by-step explanation at how they did it, here’s their Home Free Alaska YouTube video on the project:
Elevated Hoop-Style Greenhouse: Details
The Watson greenhouse was 10’x20’ in size, and turned out to be less expensive and much easier to build than other greenhouse plans they had seen. Construction was completed in just 2 days.
Their DIY greenhouse materials list consisted of low cost materials available at their local hardware store:
1. Greenhouse plastic 40ft X 25ft, 6 MIL thick, 4 Year UV Resistant Polyethylene:
2. 5 cattle panels (the Watsons used 16ft long by 50 in. high sections, made with 4 gauge wire purchased from Tractor Supply Co.
3. Roll of screen for the windows
4. (2) packs of zip ties
5. (2) packs of pipe insulation
6. Straight nails
7. U-shaped nails (1-1/4” length by 1/4” round crown)
9. (4) Metal T-posts
10. (2) 4x4s cut in half
11. (2) bags cement
12. (4) 2x2x8s
13. (12) 2x4x10s
14. (15) 1x2x8s
15. (17) 2x4x8s
Why We Like this Hoop Greenhouse
What caught our attention about the Watson version of the hoop greenhouse is not that it’s unique (there are similar versions out there). Rather, we liked it for these reasons:
- Simple Design. Just about anyone who can lift a hammer and bend a cattle panel (with help, if necessary) can tackle this project and end up with good results.
- It’s Inexpensive. Most of us prepsteaders have to watch our coins carefully. This design is relatively inexpensive compared to others. You may already have many of the materials on your property.
- It’s Tall. In this version of a hoop house, the simple addition of the stub wall (pony wall, knee wall, etc.) adds additional headroom and makes it easier to walk around.
- It’s Expandable. You can add on extra elements like automated wind fans for more cooling in summer heat, or planting tables that run the course of the structure. You can even extend the greenhouse itself to almost any length.
- It Makes a Fun Family Project. The simplicity of this build means you can enlist your whole family to help. Nothing brings a family together like a fun project that builds memories for years to come.
Tips for Maximizing Your Hoop Greenhouse
Make stacked, pyramid style beds with full sun plants on the side of the greenhouse that gets the most sun, and shade plants on the opposite side.
Use containers for plants that need to be moved outdoors in warm weather, or moved indoors when the weather turns frosty. Each time you move them, you will either have more or less space inside to plan with.
Keep your plastic clean. Over time, it will normally acquire some dirt or even begin to become less translucent. Regular washing will help. All plastic sheets wear out eventually, so don’t forget to exchange it when necessary, otherwise you’ll get increasingly lower yields.
Ready to Start Building a DIY Greenhouse?
If you’ve been wondering how to build a greenhouse cheap, be sure to view the video above. It gives you a good idea how to proceed. Last we heard, the Watson’s don’t have plans available. But this is such a simple, basic design that we don’t think most people will need them.
If you have questions, let us know and, as long time DIY-ers ourselves, we’ll answer you as best we can.