For you DIY-ers out there, we have the perfect project on the agenda today: a raised bed hoop house. These are essentially roofs that top the walls of your raised garden bed.
With a garden hoop house, your plants will be protected from outside dangers with little maintenance on your part. Not to mention, these houses are perfect for an extended and delicious year-round harvest!
We’ll walk you through the process of building your hoop house and get you set up for success.
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What Is A Hoop House?
A hoop house is a type of garden bed cover that has a “hoop” shape. The supports are bent around the top of the garden raised beds, creating a dome-like space inside. This shape holds up the cover material, be it plastic, netting, or fabric.
Some hoop houses are hinged or retractable, which provides easy access to your plants. The style and dimensions you choose should depend on the type of raised garden bed you have. In this article, we’re going to focus on a hoop house designed for the Birdies raised beds. If you don’t have garden beds picked out yet, we highly recommend these for their durability and customization options (you’ll love them!).
Why Should I Use A Hoop House?
If your backyard experiences cold weather, choose hoop houses. If wandering wildlife likes to munch on your plants, choose hoop houses. If you want a greenhouse effect… well, you get it.
There are countless benefits to these covers. Perhaps the most common reason for building them is to extend the growing season. By covering up your plants in the fall, you’re protecting them from frost. This is especially useful for fall veggies that wouldn’t survive that long otherwise.
When made from the right material, these covers work as cold frames. In fact, they’re so effective at keeping roots warm that you may be able to grow crops year round if you live in a zone with mild winters.
We mentioned that there are many styles of bed covers out there, so why choose a hoop house in particular? These structures are popular for two reasons: they’re easy and inexpensive. You can build your own in a single afternoon while spending less than you did at the nursery last spring. Plus, their tried-and-tested structure holds up well in most conditions and takes little maintenance.
DIY Hoop House For Your Raised Bed
We’ve designed a DIY hoop house that can be customized to whatever shape the Birdies raised garden bed has been built as (there are many configurations!). This cover anchors underneath the soil inside the bed and has a removable top that’s perfect for keeping your plants warm and happy. So let’s get started on this fun and easy hoop house!
Things to Consider
Take a good look at your garden raised bed. How many hoops will fit across it? Where do you want to access the plants from? It may help you to do a quick sketch of what you expect the hoop house will look like on your bed. This design is meant to be customized to fit your garden raised beds, so don’t be afraid to change things up!
In this plan, we’ll be setting the base inside the beds before the soil. Because of the rectangular base that sits on the ground, the vertical supports will stay up on their own while you’re filling in the soil. They’ll also be more grounded, providing great support for the hoops.
If your garden raised bed is already filled, no need to worry! Simply skip steps 2 – 4 when making the base. Insert the supporting, vertical pipes into the soil and pack them in tight. This should still be enough to keep the structure strong – especially if you use a larger diameter of pipe for this part.
Tools and Materials You’ll Need
- Birdies raised garden bed (available at the Epic Gardening Shop)
- Soil and shovel
- Measuring tape
- PVC pipe cutter
- 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch PVC pipe (amount depends on bed measurements)
- 4 socket fittings
- 2+ tee fittings
- 4+ couplings
- 1+ cross fittings (optional)
- Cover material (plastic, netting, fabric, etc.)
- Heavy duty scissors
- Duct tape
- Several small clamps
- PVC pipe demount clip (optional)
- Start by measuring the interior of your raised garden bed. The size will determine how much PVC for hoop house will be needed.
- Cut the 1/2 inch PVC pipe into 2 pieces, each the width of the bed interior. Attach one side of the bottom of a socket to the ends (a lone side of the socket should point upwards).
- Set out the PVC for the lengthwise sides and cut them into sections wherever a hoop will be supported. How many you cut depends on the length of the beds and how much elbow room you want when growing your plants. We recommend that you keep the hoops at about 2 feet apart for a sound structure.
- Connect the lengthwise pieces to each other using the tee fittings (lone side up!). Attach the ends to the sockets on the width pipes. You’ll end up with a nicely-shaped rectangle that fits inside the raised garden bed.
- Now for the supports. Cut lengths of PVC that will reach an inch or two above the soil level – any lower and they may get lost in the dirt. Make one length for every fitting on the rectangle base.
- Stick those pieces upright in the fittings and top each piece with a coupling.
- Let’s start with the top bar. Cut PVC pieces into the same lengths as the side of the base (we only need one set though). Set them aside.
- Now, cut the PVC pieces for the arched hoops. You’ll have to eyeball the height you want since they’ll be bent into an arc. Cut a piece for each side of every arc.
- Connect these pieces into individual hoops (they won’t be bent yet). End pieces should be connected with tee fittings, while center hoops need cross fittings.
Putting it All Together
- Set the base inside your empty raised garden bed. If the base is too large, simply cut back the length of the pipes.
- Fill the beds with your soil of choice. This can be hard to change later, so consider the soil needs of the plants that will be growing there.
- Now for the fun part. Take a PVC hoop section and put one end into its corresponding base support. Bend the section into an arch and fit the other end into the opposite coupling. Repeat with the rest of the PVC hoops.
- Grab the top bar pieces and fit one in between each hoop.
- Make sure each piece is secure so you won’t have any surprises if the wind picks up.
- You now have a sturdy PVC structure! All that’s left to do is cover it with the material of your choice.
- Cut two pieces of cover material that are slightly larger than the end hoops (plastic is the most popular). Using duct tape, secure one around each end hoop so that the sides are fully covered.
- Now, cut a much larger piece with a width that’s a bit longer than the length of the PVC hoop house. The material should be long enough to cover the entire structure. Drape it over the top, smooth it out, and use clamps to keep it in place.
- Trim the ends of the plastic so they meet the soil but don’t hang off one end of the beds.
Congrats! You now have a fully functioning hoop house! To access your growing plants, simply remove the clamps on one side, lift up the material, and clamp it out of your way. If later in the season you decide to remove the top entirely, just disconnect the hoop portion from the base fittings (you may need to use a demount clip). In the meantime, plant some seeds and watch your garden grow!