hoop house

How to...

Build a hoop house or cloche frame for your GrowCover fabric
Gardeners are versatile people and many will use their ingenuity to construct a frame to support the GrowCover .
There are many options using recycled materials or other materials easily available from hardware stores.
We made our first hoop frames with recycled agricultural poly pipe and used an old wire fire guard to cover seed propagation trays. Now we mainly use 1” poly pipe and ¾” white pvc plumbing pipe, but we are still experimenting.

hoop house

Hoop tunnel using  10’ x 23’ GrowCover

Below is how we make our hoop frames. They are simple to build, are flexible in size and can be moved easily

We make our frames to fit the length of garden beds. They are very easy to take down and re-erect anywhere.
If your garden bed is too long for a standard GrowCover garden pack it is easy to sew on another piece or you can buy custom cut lengths to fit. Remember to allow for the height of the hoop house at both ends.

To work out length of GrowCover you need:

Garden bed length + twice the height of the frame + at least 6” at each end to secure it at ground level.

Example: For a 15’ long garden bed with hoops 3’ high you need 22’ of GrowCover,
or 15’ + 3’+ 3’+ 6”+6” = 22’.
The excess fabric at each end (minimum 6”) can be secured with butterfly clips, timber, bricks or a garden stake inserted into a sewn seam.

Hint 1: When the fabric is new  water has a tendency to form some droplets on it. This stops when the fabric has been in uses for a while and the fabric feels softer. This is normal. Hint 2: One side of the fabric is slightly rougher than the other  - put this side facing outwards.

How much fabric do I need?
Below is a guide to which width and length of GrowCover you need

Garden bed width

Width of GrowCover

Garden Pack

Number of hoops and cut length of each hoop

Height at the center of the hoop

Hoop house length (max)

Up to 4’

6’6” wide

6’6”x16’

5 hoops each 5’ long

1’6”

12’

Up to 4’

6’6” wide

6’6”x33’

10 hoops each 5’ long

1’6”

28’

From 4’ to 6’

10’ wide

10’x23’

6 hoops each 9’ long

3’

15’6”

From 6’ to 8’

13’ wide

13’x16’

4 hoops each 12’ long

3’9”

7’6”

These measurements are converted from the metric so are approximate. 

Ready to make your own hoop house?
For GrowCover fabric click the button on the right

logo

You can easily cut and sew pieces of the fabric together for different size beds.

Garden bed length covered

Length of GrowCover

6’6” wide GrowCover
Garden bed up to 4’ wide

10’ wide GrowCover
Garden bed up to 6’ wide

13’ wide GrowCover
Garden bed up to 8’ wide

 

Bed length

Bed length

Bed length

16’

12’

9’

7’6”

23’

18’

15’

14’

33’

28’

25’

24’

Making a supporting hoop frame

You can use GrowCover without a frame, just throw it over the plants as a floating row cover. This is quite handy when you have fruiting plants like tomatoes that need protection from birds or a newly seeded area which benefits from the extra water retention.

In our experience for growing vegetables a hoop or frame works better. Just lift the fabric when you need to weed, harvest etc. and clip it to the hoop or frame to keep it out of your way.

Veggiepach hoop houses

Hoop frame with 10' wide GrowCover

hoop house

GrowCover pulled back and held with jumbo clips

Hoop house frame

We use 1” rural black poly pipe which we have to hand, but you can use anything available that is reasonably rigid and smooth so that the GrowCover does not catch.  This also makes it easy to lift on or off.
We cut the poly pipe 1’ shorter than the width of the GrowCover fabric so there is a flap left over of 6” on each side which can be secured to the ground if required..
As a rule of thumb we install the hoops at intervals of about one yard, then adjust the spacing to the length of the bed. 

  • Use 5 hoops for 6’6”x16’ GrowCover with about 1’6” drop at both ends.
  • Use 10 hoops for 6’6”x33’ GrowCover with about 1’6” drop at both ends.
  • Use 6 hoops for 10’x23’ GrowCover with about 3’ drop at both ends.
  • Use 4 hoops for 13’x16’ GrowCover with about 3’ drop at both ends.

We find this gives good stability while giving easy access to the plants growing under the GrowCover hoop house.

The width of the bed under the GrowCover hoop house is up to you.  The narrower you make it the higher the hoops at the apex

To hold the poly pipe hoops upright we use galvanized metal rods 15” long pushed (or driven) into the ground leaving about 6” above the surface. Normally the rods would be perpendicular, but if you decided to have a very wide and low hoop tunnel you may find it better to lean them slightly inwards.  The system you adopt will depend on the type of hoop that you use. 

spike spike spike

The pictures above show poly pipe sliding over a metal spike to support a hoop.

GrowCover frames

Hoop tunnels using 6’6” x 16’ GrowCover

Once all the hoops are installed you are ready to cover with the GrowCover fabric.
The 6” flap of fabric on each side at ground level can be held down by bricks, pegs or lengths of timber to make it more difficult for pests to crawl underneath and chomp on your young plants.   We do not usually need to do this but just secure the fabric with Jumbo clips on to the frame at ground level.

Various ways to secure GrowCover to hoops and the ground

Jumbo clips are exceptionally easy and quick to attach and replace and do not tear the fabric. They are suitable for any hoop or frame that is 1” in diameter or section.

We also have a range of smaller clamps and clips suitable for smaller than 1” pipes or frames.
Butterfly clips can be attached to the edge of the GrowCover fabric and pegged into the ground. Double over the fabric for extra strength.

Cut lengths of poly or pvc pipe. You can try cutting short lengths of pipe, splitting them lengthways and inserting them over the fabric and onto the frame/pipe. There is I think a commercial version of this concept.   They can be a bit difficult to get on and take off so if your GrowCover is likely to be moved it is better to try another solution.

butterfly clip

 

Butterfly clip

Jumbo clip

Jumbo plus clip

end stake

Garden stake in a seam

The fabric at the ends of the hoop houses can be secured in a number of ways, the simplest is to put a loose piece of timber or bricks on the end  or roll the timber up in any spare fabric to make it more secure if you live somewhere windy. Alternatively you can gather the fabric together and tie it with string or a strong rubber band and peg into the ground.

More stylish methods we have tried are described below.

A garden stake can be inserted into a seam at the end of the GrowCover fabric to keep the end flaps in place.
This also makes it easy to handle the fabric when removing or installing. If the stake is wider than the end of the hoop house it stops the wind blowing the ends inwards. A seam can be sewn using a domestic sewing machine.

Butterfly clips can easily be attached to the fabric, threaded with tape or string, pulled together or spread out and pegged into the ground. Remember the fewer pegs you have to remove for tending the plants the better.

Sew a seam and thread with tape or string (rubber spline used for fly screens works well) to gather the fabric together and peg it into the ground.

Place a golf ball under the fabric and tie a piece of string or elastic round it on the top side. Secure string in the ground with tent peg.

butterfly clip

End using butterfly clips

gathered end

End gathered with tape or string

tied end

End tied & pegged


golf ball

golf ball tie

golf ball tie

golf ball tie down


You can of course put more than one hoop tunnel in a wide garden bed, for example if you prefer to have two small hoop tunnels side by side in stead of one big one it works just fine.

Alternative frames we have tried - just experiment and see what works for you.

Grow house

A frame using pvc pipe

grow house

Another pvc pipe frame design.

Growcover hoop houses

A row of hoop tunnels using
6’6” GrowCover


Fruit tree cover

GrowCover cover for a small fruit tree

stake end

Garden stake used in the end

drip irrigation

Pipe frame with drip irrigation


tall tent

Tall tent using pvc pipe

seed tray cover

Cover for seed trays

GrowCover low cover

Low tent using pvc pipe


Ready to make your own hoop house?

Get going with GrowCover fabric

crop cover fabric