IF YOU’RE A GARDENER that lives where there are cold winters, extending the short growing season with a hoop house is a very enticing idea. According to the celebrated Maine farmer Eliot Coleman, “Low-cost tunnel greenhouses work so well that if the public were more familiar with them, I think every gardening family would have one.”
So then, why are hoop houses still so rare even among avid gardeners? One of the main reasons is because building a structure that looks decent, won’t collapse in the snow or blow away in the wind is a construction project that is beyond the skills of most gardeners.
At least some carpentry skills
So you’d think that an easy-to-assemble hoop house kit would be pretty appealing to many gardeners. Unfortunately, the kits that are available still seem to require at least some carpentry skills. Many people report in the garden forums that assembly was significantly more challenging than the supplier described. But once the hoop house was assembled, most were very pleased with the results.
To help make it more easy for gardeners to find an inexpensive hobby hoop house kit, I’ve assembled some basic information about what’s available. I’ve limited it to hoop houses and not included greenhouses because high poly tunnels (as hoop houses are also called) are what Eliot Coleman recommends for extending the season.
Below is a side-by-side comparison of three similar models from three suppliers to help jump start your research.
Supplier: Gardeners Supply Company*
Description of Kit: Dimensions: 7 feet, 6 inches high; 12 feet wide; 16 feet long. Covering: 6-mil polyethylene on all sides. Hoops: UV-protected PVC ribs.
Other components included: Lumber for vents and door frame. Hardware. Shipping is included at this price.
Cost: $558.88. Not provided: Quite a bit of wood framing is required and not included.
Supplier: Growers Solution
Description of Kit: Dimensions: 7 feet, 6 inches high; 10 feet wide; 12 feet long. Covering: 6-mil UV resistant greenhouse film (4-year warranty, includes end walls). Hoops: 3 2-piece bows (1 3/8 inch galvanized steel tubing – 16 gage).
Other components included: 8 ground stakes; 1 5/8 inch galvanized steel tube center beam; batten tape; bracing & hardware; galvanized steel end walls; step-by-step instructions.
Cost: $559.95. Not provided: Door; 2 x 4s for bottom base. Shipping is extra.
Supplier: Hoop House Greenhouse Kits
Description of Kit: Dimensions: 7 feet high; 10 feet wide; 12 feet long. Covering: 6-mil UV resistant greenhouse film. Hoops: Preformed, galvanized, tubular steel.
Other components included: Steel hoop support stakes; steel hoop clamps; steel door hinges & handles; hook & eye door locks; turnbuckles; poly-tubing joiners; batten tape; heavy-duty wire; velcro tape; fasteners; miscellaneous hardware; complete, easy-to-read and illustrated building plans.
Cost: $409 includes shipping. Not provided: Four 4 feet x 8 feet sheets of plywood (½ inch or 5/8 inch thickness); 56 feet of 2 x 4 framing lumber; additional 1″x3″ boards.
If you’re in the UK, First Tunnels provides a lot of hoop house kit options not available in the U.S.
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*If you purchase using this link, I make a small amount of money, which helps me continue to publish Suburban Hobby Farmer.