DIY High Tunnel Greenhouse

The high tunnel greenhouse, also known as the hoop house, is a rather recent invention. In the early 1950s, Dr. Emery Myers Emmert built the very first plastic-covered high tunnel greenhouse at the University of Kentucky. Today it is one of the most popular types of greenhouse. Among the reasons for this popularity is that the ease of construction. A do-it-yourselfer with basic construction skills can build one in a weekend.


The structure of a high tunnel greenhouse is straightforward. It consists of a series of bowed ribs over which is stretched transparent vinyl. The ribs form an arch, making the roof of the greenhouse rounded like a Quonset hut. The ends of the greenhouse are typically framed in using wood. Since the ends are straight and sturdier than the walls, the door along with any fans or ventilation equipment have been mounted at the ends. The plastic is usually tacked at the base of the greenhouse to your baseboard.


You can make the ribs of the greenhouse from just about any bendable substance. The most frequent materials are PVC pipe or even a bendable metallic pipe, like aluminum or stainless steel. Unique pipe bending machines will be able to allow you to bend stiff metallic pipe. Alternatively, you can use saplings instead of pipe to generate a rudimentary frame. Or you can utilize hog panel fencing rather of ribs. The plastic covering is normally a polyethylene film that’s UV resistant. You can make the ends of their greenhouse from any rigid material, such as polycarbonate or fiberglass.


The details of constructing a high tunnel greenhouse depend on how you plan use it. For growing warm-weather crops throughout the winter, you will need to set 2 layers of polyethylene film using a air gap between them. The simplest way to install the double layer is to buy especially made two-layer picture. If you intend to hang planters from the bottom of the greenhouse, then you will need to choose hardy ribbing and you will need to brace between the ribs. If you plan to use the greenhouse in a hot or humid climate throughout the summer, you will need to install ventilation fans on a minumum of one end of the greenhouse.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The benefits of a high tunnel greenhouse over several other greenhouse kinds are cost and ease of construction. The materials used to build a higher tunnel are much less costly than a classic metal-framed, acrylic or glass-covered house. Anybody with basic building skills can build a high tunnel; it doesn’t require you to cut glass or build rafters. The disadvantage is the high tunnel greenhouse is a temporary building. Polyethylene film deteriorates in a few seasons. The wooden baseboard to which the ribs are attached sits on the ground, where it has a tendency to decay. Therefore, high tunnels need considerable maintenance if you would like to keep them over a few years.

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