How to Build a DIY Row Cover to Extend Your Growing Season


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

 

DIY Row Cover | DIY Garden Cloche | DIY Hoop House | Growing Season ExtenderA row cover is like a mini, mobile greenhouse for your outdoor garden. Extend your growing season with this easy DIY row cover tutorial!

* * *

Aside from our greenhouse, row covers are my favourite ways to protect our plants from the cold and extend our growing season here in the Pacific Northwest. Instead of a greenhouse that is typically quite large and stationary, large, row covers like these ones we’ve constructed are generally lighter and more portable, and making them yourself means you can customize them to fit over top of your existing outdoor garden rows or raised beds.

Instead of small cold frames that fit over individual plants or small clusters, these DIY row covers are large enough to fit over your entire garden bed (or at least large sections of it), sheltering all of your plants from the cold.

I’ve called these garden cloches and even mini hoop houses in the past, since all of them basically function the same way and row covers can also mean sheets of light cloth that protect plants from bugs in the summer.

(Plus, these are customizable, so you could build them small like a garden cloche, long like row covers or extra large like hop houses. That’s the beauty of doing it yourself;)

But no matter what you call them or how big or small you build them, their purpose is to help you extend your growing window and get more out of your garden at the beginning and the end of the season.

 

Update…

I originally wrote this post (and took the photos) three years ago. Since then we’ve rebuilt our row covers to fit our in-ground rows at our new house and redesigned them just slightly.

We recorded a simple how-to video to show you how we did it, which (if you’re a visual learner like me), may be easier to follow than reading the directions. 

Here’s the full video tutorial if you’d rather watch how we built ours:)

 

 

 

Related: 15 Essential Tools for Every Home Toolkit

 

How we constructed our DIY row covers

When we first constructed our row covers/garden cloches/mini hoop houses, we were living at our old house where we had raised garden beds, so we constructed them to fit our raised beds and actually attached them to the raised beds with old door hinges so we could easily lift them open and closed. Now we’re in our new place and have in-ground garden beds, so we now use the skinnier of the two covers to protect our row of fall crops and it’s just wide enough to fit over one of our standard-width rows.

We also have an unheated greenhouse that helps to extend our growing season here as temperatures begin to plummet (we’ve been getting hard frosts overnight and snow is in the forecast for next week).

When we first built these row covers we were scrambling to get them put together after an unexpected snowfall hit us just two days after Halloween one year (even though we’d been out Trick-Or-Treating in short sleeves).

So my first piece of advice would be, don’t wait until your first hard frost or until the snow starts falling to get your row covers built. But, speaking from experience, as long as you’ve got cold-tolerant crops, you can still help protect them from the weight of a heavy snowfall or extended periods of hard frost by getting them covered ASAP, even if you’re a bit late (as we were when we first built ours).

 

Related: 10 Fall Gardening Tips for a Productive Garden Next Year

 

Always be prepared (but better late than never)

If there’s one lesson I continue to learn over and over on this homesteading journey, it’s that you should always be prepared for anything at any time.

There really is no such thing as being over-prepared or being prepared too far in advance when you’re striving to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle. You’ve gotta have your own back and protect your own livelihood, and that most certainly includes your food source! 

A hoop house is like a portable greenhouse for your outdoor garden. It can help you extend your growing season and help shelter your winter garden from snow and ice. You can make your own hoop house with simple building materials in a single afternoon. Learn how to build a hoop house the quick and easy way with this DIY hoop house project tutorial.

When the first snowfall unexpectedly hit, I thought about trying to dig up our plants and re-planting them in the greenhouse. But the ground was already frozen solid. Plus, they wouldn’t all have enough space to grow to full size in our little greenhouse. There was really only one thing I could do: Send my husband out to the garage in a snowstorm and make him build us a couple garden cloches!

We spent a few minutes kicking ourselves and moaning about not having built these row covers sooner. But at the end of the day we knew that late is better than never! Besides, even if our plants didn’t make it through the winter, having these row covers ready to go in the spring can help you get a jumpstart on the growing season since the soil beneath them will warm up and be workable earlier in the season.

 

Related: 3 Ways to Protect Your Plants From the Cold

 

How to build a DIY row cover for garden rows or raised beds

Before you start building, you’ll need to gather up a few supplies. Here’s what you’ll need (sizes and lengths will depend on your individual measurements, so be sure to read through all the instructions before purchasing materials or making any cuts):

  • Lumber (we used pre-treated 2x4s. You can use any lumber that is long enough and wide enough to support the size of your frame).
  • ½-inch PVC piping
  • 6 mil plastic sheeting (or other plastic sheeting made for greenhouses and hoop houses)
  • Hardware (construction screws, staples, hinges*, adhesive*, Gorilla Tape*)
  • Tools (saw, drill, 1-inch spade bit or hole saw, staple gun)

*Starred items are optional or supplementary.

Next, you need to decide how long, wide and tall you want your row covers to be depending on the area you want to cover. Make sure to measure twice before you cut and start building. Read through the following directions first before you start building.

 

DIY row cover step-by-step instructions

  1. Measure the space that needs to be covered (including width and length) and write these measurements down
  2. Build your frame. You’ll need some 2x4s and ½-inch PVC piping. 
  3. Cut your lumber to the size of your garden bed and screw together with construction screws. Add corner braces if you like to make the frame more rigid and sturdy.A hoop house is like a portable greenhouse for your outdoor garden. It can help you extend your growing season and help shelter your winter garden from snow and ice. You can make your own hoop house with simple building materials in a single afternoon. Learn how to build a hoop house the quick and easy way with this DIY hoop house project tutorial.
  4. Use a 1-inch spade bit (or hole saw) to drill 1-inch diameter holes along the long sides of your frame directly across from one another, beginning at one end of your frame and again roughly every two feet until you reach the end of your frame. Drill each hole about 1 inch deep. These holes will serve as the mounting points for the PVC pipes that will make up the “spine” of the row cover.A hoop house is like a portable greenhouse for your outdoor garden. It can help you extend your growing season and help shelter your winter garden from snow and ice. You can make your own hoop house with simple building materials in a single afternoon. Learn how to build a hoop house the quick and easy way with this DIY hoop house project tutorial.
  5. Decide how tall you want your row cover(s) to be.
  6. Cut your PVC pipe into equal lengths. Add the width of your row cover frame to 1.5 times the height you’d like your row cover to be to determine how long each piece of PVC pipe should be (Width + 1.5xHeight). You’ll need one piece of PVC pipe for approximately every 2 feet of length of your row cover.
  7. Fit one end of the first piece of PVC pipe into the first hole on one side of the frame and carefully bend the pipe in an arch to make up the “spine” of the frame, and fit the other end of the pipe into the hole directly opposite on the other side of the frame. Repeat this process until you reach the end of your frame. A row cover is like a mini, mobile greenhouse for your outdoor garden. You can use a row cover to extend your growing season in the fall, winter and early spring by using it to cover your in-ground or raised garden beds. The best part is, You can make your own row cover with simple building materials in a single afternoon, and customize it to fit your garden beds. Learn how with this DIY row cover tutorial! #rowcover #diyrowcover
  8. Secure PVC pipe by drilling a pilot hole through the lumber and the pipe in the side of the frame at each hole and driving in a 1-inch screw to secure the pipe in place. *Alternatively, fill the holes with adhesive before putting each pipe in place and allow time to cure before continuing.A hoop house is like a portable greenhouse for your outdoor garden. It can help you extend your growing season and help shelter your winter garden from snow and ice. You can make your own hoop house with simple building materials in a single afternoon. Learn how to build a hoop house the quick and easy way with this DIY hoop house project tutorial.
  9. Cover your frame with 6 mil plastic sheeting (vapour barrier) or greenhouse plastic.You’ll need a sheet of plastic that’s slightly wider than your cut PVC pipes are long, and the length of your row cover plus the height of the row cover on each end. To cover, lay your frame on its side. Centre your plastic sheet along the length of the frame and staple it along the bottom edge. Then flip the frame over and stretch the plastic over the second side. Smooth out any wrinkles and staple this side.A row cover is like a mini, mobile greenhouse for your outdoor garden. You can use a row cover to extend your growing season in the fall, winter and early spring by using it to cover your in-ground or raised garden beds. The best part is, You can make your own row cover with simple building materials in a single afternoon, and customize it to fit your garden beds. Learn how with this DIY row cover tutorial! #rowcover #diyrowcover
  10. Cut off excess plastic along the bottom edge. Secure the ends by pulling the sheet from the centre point at the top of the frame and stretching it down to the centre on the base of the frame on each end and securing with a couple staples.
  11. Smooth out the plastic over the end and fold the corners like a present. Staple the bottom to the frame making sure to smooth out the plastic as you go.A row cover is like a mini, mobile greenhouse for your outdoor garden. You can use a row cover to extend your growing season in the fall, winter and early spring by using it to cover your in-ground or raised garden beds. The best part is, You can make your own row cover with simple building materials in a single afternoon, and customize it to fit your garden beds. Learn how with this DIY row cover tutorial! #rowcover #diyrowcover
  12. Cut off the excess plastic on the bottom edge and repeat on the other side. Once all of your ends are pulled tight, folded in, stapled together and the excess plastic has been cut off, your row cover is finished and ready to go in the garden!

You might want to tape down the folded ends to prevent any snow or rain from getting in and to help prevent warm air from escaping. I would recommend using Gorilla Tape to do this as it holds better than any other kind of industrial tape (yes, better than Duct Tape!) 

From here you can either lift and carry your row cover to your garden and place it overtop of your garden row or bed (you’ll want an extra pair of hands to help with this). Or if you’re planning to add hinges for a raised bed, do so now and then screw into the wooden frame of your raised bed.

This is how our finished garden cloches looked once we screwed the hinges into the raised beds at our old place.

A hoop house is like a portable greenhouse for your outdoor garden. It can help you extend your growing season and help shelter your winter garden from snow and ice. You can make your own hoop house with simple building materials in a single afternoon. Learn how to build a hoop house the quick and easy way with this DIY hoop house project tutorial.

A hoop house is like a portable greenhouse for your outdoor garden. It can help you extend your growing season and help shelter your winter garden from snow and ice. You can make your own hoop house with simple building materials in a single afternoon. Learn how to build a hoop house the quick and easy way with this DIY hoop house project tutorial.

And there you have it! You can keep your row covers closed and your garden beds covered during the winter to help shelter plants from snow and extreme cold, and in the spring to help warm up the soil earlier. 

Of course if you can, get your row covers built before the first snow!

But if you’re already too late, spring is just around the corner;)

Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂

 

 

 

The House & Homestead

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Yasinzaii

    Hi Anna, This is a great mini greenhouse DIY project. The idea of drilling holes in the wooden base to fasten the hoop was new for me. Actually, This makes the hoophouse look more professional and resilient to winds. Thank you so much I was helpful. This year I wrote an article about hoophouse. (A bigger hoop house.), I am sharing the link with you I hope you will love it.
    my ariticle: How to Build a HOOP HOUSE – A Complete Step by Step Guide

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Hi Yasinzaii! These garden cloches worked fabulously for us over the winter. Drilling holes in and adding hinges on made it so much easier to lift them up and put them back down when needed, and when it was warm enough, we simply took unscrewed the hoop houses from our raised beds and put them off to the side. They’re there waiting for when the weather gets cold again 🙂 I’ll definitely check out your article as well! I always love to see how others are doing things around their houses and homesteads and am always inspired by others. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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In the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, we’re highlighting some of the ways that we can keep entertained and productive and continue learning and adding new skills to our repertoire during the winter months while still taking time to slow down from our usual pace and celebrate all that we’ve achieved over the past year.

In this issue, you’ll find:
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In the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, I sat down with Ann Accetta-Scott of @afarmgirlinthemaking to talk all about what people need to know about buying and selling a homestead property.

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Check out the full interview in the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine: link in bio @anna.sakawsky or visit www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe, login to the library (if you’re already a subscriber) or view a sample of the current issue!

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31 0

This is why people don’t trust our medical system!!!

I very rarely go on a rant about current events but this has me feeling really fired up…

My husband and I each got an Amber Alert on our phones the other night along with millions of other British Columbians, informing us of a child abduction in Vancouver. It made the suspect sound like a dangerous kidnapper and said “do not approach. Call 911.”

As it turns out, it was the mother of the child (a 3-year-old boy), who had refused medical treatment without getting a second opinion and follow up blood tests, so the Ministry of Child and Family Services was called, she was arrested and her son was taken from her and was administered medical treatment in the hospital without consent and without a guardian present.

There’s a lot more to this story than I’m able to share in this video or this caption, so I’ll post some links below where you can hear directly from the mom what happened, and check out other IG accounts that have been in direct contact with her and the father. But the point is this was a GROSS misuse of our Amber Alert system, a GROSS abuse of power (turns out the boy wasn’t sick in the end anyway), and has now traumatized this family for life.

Doctors are not gods and as mothers we do not co-parent with the government!!!

This hits close to home for me because I too have been through the medical system and had my concerns dismissed, was misdiagnosed and given wrong information, and was treated with obvious contempt when I got a second opinion.

In this day and age of rampant medical coercion and the erosion of bodily autonomy over our own bodies and over those of our children, this story highlights the dangers of the very slippery slope we’re on.

As parents who only have the best interests of our children at heart, this could happen to any one of us. We can’t let this be normalized. Remember “first they came for (fill in the blank), and I said nothing. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Check out my stories for the full video that the mom, Wiloh made explaining the details of what happened or check out the comments for links to learn more & support this family.
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I’ve hesitated about posting this reel over and over because I know I’ll probably get backlash, hate and vitriol from some people in return. But I wouldn’t be being true to myself if I didn’t speak the truth that’s on my heart and mind…

If you haven’t noticed, there are currently thousands of Canadians sharing their stories and using the hashtag #trudeaumustgo on their social media posts right now in response to the divisive rhetoric and actions of our prime minister over the past few months. But our media has downplayed the issue and has attributed most of the hashtags to “bot” accounts and foreigners trying to influence our politics.

In response, real Canadians are making videos and sharing their stories to show that we are not bots, but real people who have been negatively affected by the words and actions of our leaders, particularly our leader at the top.

I used to consider myself a lifelong leftist and have supported the liberal government and Trudeau over the years, but after what I’ve witnessed over the past few months; After how he has spoken about Canadians who have made a different medical choice or who have protested mandates (which have done nothing to stop the spread of you-know-what anyway); After the hate and division that has trickled down from the top and infiltrated our communities, I can no longer stand silently by.

While I am 💉, a few months ago when I voiced my support for those who stood up against mandates and against the division being pushed on us by our leadership, I suddenly found myself among what our prime minister called the “small fringe minority” of citizens with “unacceptable views.”

I lost followers, friends and even a couple family members. I was told I’d been “radicalized,” although my views have never changed.

So today I’m adding my voice to the chorus of real, everyday Canadians who are taking a stand against tyranny and division in this country. As the saying goes, if we do not stand for something, we’ll fall for anything. I stand for freedom & autonomy, and against division & tyranny.

#trudeaumustgo

(Special thanks to fellow 🇨🇦 homesteader @meggarlandd for inspiring me & giving me the courage to post this:)
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