What Is A Hoop House: Tips On Hoop House Gardening

Lettuce growing in a hoop house
(Image credit: Capelle.r)

A lot of gardeners believe that the growing season ends as soon as autumn rolls around. While it may be harder to grow certain summer vegetables, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Hoop house gardening is a fantastic and economical way to extend your growing season by weeks or, if you’re really committed, all the way through the winter. Keep reading to learn about hoop house gardening and how to build a hoop greenhouse.

Hoop House Gardening

What is a hoop house? Basically, it’s a structure that uses the rays of the sun to warm the plants inside it. Unlike a greenhouse, its warming action is completely passive and doesn’t rely on heaters or fans. This means it’s a lot cheaper to operate (once you’ve built it, you’re done spending money on it) but it also means it’s more labor-intensive. On sunny days, even if outside temperatures are cool, the air inside can heat up so much as to be damaging to plants. To avoid this, give your hoop house flaps that can be opened daily to allow cooler, drier air to flow through.

How to Build a Hoop Greenhouse

When building hoop houses, you need to take a few things into consideration. Are you planning on leaving your structure up through the winter? If so, are you expecting considerable wind and snowfall? Building hoop houses that can withstand snow and wind requires a sloping roof and a firm foundation of pipes driven up to 2 feet (61 cm.) into the ground. At their heart, however, hoop houses for vegetables are comprised of a frame made of wood or piping that forms an arc above the garden. Stretched across this frame is transparent or translucent greenhouse quality plastic that can be easily folded back in at least two places to allow for airflow. The equipment isn’t expensive, and the payoff is great, so why not try your hand at building a hoop house this autumn?

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.