How to build great DIY greenhouses, simple cold frames, tunnels, and hoop houses on a budget with BEST tutorials and free building plans. Yes you can have a productive garden in winter and cold climate!
I can day-dream about them all day long … greenhouses and cold frames! They are such effective structures to extend the season, allowing us to grow an abundant garden year round, even in the snowy cold winter!
You will discover that you can have a great productive greenhouse or cold frame even when you have little budget and little carpentry skills.
Every one of these greenhouses and cold frames contain lots of inspirations to learn from. You will find ingenious ideas such as passive heating elements of painted jugs, straw bale as building material that needs no tools, using tree branches, old bottles, windows, and even a trampoline! ( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )
1. Plastic Bottle DIY Greenhouses
The easiest 1-minute DIY greenhouses, yet surprisingly effective. Check out the tutorial & 3 secrets to success here at A Piece Of Rainbow !
2. Cedar Branch Garden Hoop House
This DIY cedar hoop can last 30 years! If you have Cedar or other rot resistant trees where you live, they can be an attractive and all-natural alternative to PVC pipes. Just add good quality greenhouse plastic or less expensive plastic sheeting such as this one!
3. Collapsible Small Greenhouses
Just want to include these no-work version of greenhouses: these collapsible covers are made of Polyethylene greenhouse fabric. They are inexpensive and easy to store when not in use! You can find them here and here.
4. Pallet Greenhouse
Pallet wood is a great material to build garden structures like planters and greenhouses! ( The Green Lever )
Here’s our favorite tool for taking apart pallets – a Duckbill Deck Wrecker that makes it so fast and easy!
5. Old window cold frame
6. Simple DIY cold frame /mini greenhouse
A portable cold frame is easy to build and a great way to extend the growing season. Check out the video tutorial below!
7. Farmhouse DIY greenhouses using old windows
This charming little greenhouse is made from 4 window panels and 2 plywood panels. The authors sealed the plywood walls.
However, I would use real wood panels made from 1×4 wood slats or similar, if the greenhouse is exposed to lots of rain and moisture.
8 – 10. Straw Bale Cold Frame
These are very easy cold frames to build. So simple and so ingenious! Straw Bales hold the heat as walls that need no tools to construct, just add windows or plastic, and frame.
Notice in this design where the glazing is sloped towards the south to allow in more light with tiers of growing space!
Before we talk about cold frames, I want to share with you two of my FAVORITE books on greenhouse gardening-
The classic is Four Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long by Elliot Colman. He gardens year round in cold Vermont, and shares simple, inexpensive designs for cold frames, unheated mobile greenhouses, and root cellars in this amazing book.
The new ground breaking ( literally) book The Forest Garden Greenhouse is written by permaculture designer Jerome Osentowski who grows bananas and citrus on a rocky hillside in Colorado with winters in -30s.
11 – 13. Easy A-frame DIY greenhouses
14. Hardware Fencing Hoop House
An easy way to create a hoop house tunnel is to use hardware wire mesh! The livestock panels used here are a heavy gauge galvanized welded wire fencing material. The plastic cover can be removable to allow beans, gourds etc to grow in the summer!
15 & 16. Hoop House Over Garden Bed
17. DIY Hoop House made easy
18 & 19. Portable window cold frame ideas
Old windows plus salvaged 1″ x 12″ cedar equals …. awesome portable cold frames! Niki shares inspiring tips on using cold frames in her awesome book: The The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year (The lower image is from For the Love of Lillian, site URL expired. )
20 – 22. More simple DIY cold frame greenhouses
Here is another wonderful tutorial inspired by Niki’s book : The The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year
This large cold frame up-cycles old folding windows in a very creative way!
23. Cold Frame Along Masonry Wall
This one runs the length of a stone wall, facing south : ideal spot for a cold frame, as the stone (concrete works too) absorbs solar energy during the day and radiates it back out at night. ( Deep Roots At Home )
24. CD Case DIY Greenhouse
CD cases open and close, how smart! Meg‘s tutorial is filled with great details!
25. Small easy DIY greenhouses
In Rob’s Northeast garden, plants such as lettuce, kale, broccoli, were able to survive the sub-zero weather in these cozy cold frames. He has some fabulous free plans of DIY cold frames and DIY greenhouses to download. ( Bepa’s Garden )
26, 27. Easy to build A-frame greenhouses
28. Super Easy DIY Hoop House
Love the simple cross arch which is perfect for smaller raised beds like the 4′ by 6′ one here. Instead of pressure-treated lumber, consider using 2×12 redwood or cedar, which are non-toxic. ( QT’s Random Ramblings )
29. Trampoline Hoop House with Passive Heating
A brilliant use of an old trampoline -no cutting of the steel required- just pull the frame pieces apart and there you have 2 halves of the frame.
I also LOVE the use of old jugs that have been spray painted black. They are filled with water. During the day the water heats up, and at the night, they radiate extra warmth inside of the greenhouse! ( Heather | How Does She )
30. Mini Box DIY Greenhouse
Anne‘s simple and beautiful DIY greenhouse is made from old windows, and the box shape makes it easy to build!
31. Retractable Hoop House
The smart design makes it easy to work on the garden beds! The hoop house is framed with o.5″ PVC pipe. They fit into 1″ diameter tees that glide over the aluminum pipe rails that are 3/4-inch-diameter. The garden beds are from 8-foot-long, 2-by-6-inch untreated fir.(Grit )
32. Hinged cover DIY greenhouse
Stephanie‘s greenhouse has a hinged cover on top of a raised bed: an easier way to remove the greenhouse cover!
33, 34. Hinged top cold frames and DIY greenhouses
More ideas on how to create a mini greenhouse or cold frame that can be opened for ventilation. ( Both images’ original sources seem to have expired. If you find it, please let me know! )
35 – 37. Free plans to build DIY greenhouses
Ana’s great DIY barn greenhouse plans and instructions inspired many versions!
A gorgeous large DIY greenhouse by The Elliot Homestead
38. Another DIY Barn Greenhouse
Barn style greenhouses are attractive and not too difficult to build. Here‘s another DIY greenhouse with step by step building photos.
39. Fold up DIY greenhouse
This small DIY greenhouse is fold-able! It measures only 4 x 4 feet, disassembles in minutes with wingnuts and can be built in a weekend.
40 & 41. Salvaged Window Greenhouses
These are bigger greenhouses for the ambitious! Each has great and unique ideas to learn from!
This one above is built by Andy at The Green Lever , a total of 24 windows and 16 pallets were used to build the greenhouse. It also harvests rainwater!
This one by Cheft at Instructables has built in vents, fan, etc. Comes with lots of detailed instructions.
This stunning blue green house from Fine Home Building shows us the magic that paints can do!
42. Plastic bottle greenhouse ideas
This pop-bottle greenhouse is built by students at Wilmington College Community Garden site in Ohio, The completed greenhouse has a 14×14’ “footprint” with old tires as the foundation and two rain barrels collecting water as a part of the north wall.
Another great example from Evergreen Scotland on flicker where you can get a clear view of how to join the plastic bottles together using bamboo poles.
43. Straw Bale Greenhouse
This beautiful variation of our other straw bale cold frames, is built along the south wall of an existing shed. It’s 10 feet by 14 feet, made of clear corrugated roofing panels. Gotta love straw bale construction! ( Source: Simplify and Save )
44 & 45. Geo Dome DIY Greenhouses
Awe inspiring, isn’t it ?!? A geodesic dome a beautiful and elegant structure. It offers stability in high wind locations, material efficiency, modular construction, optimal light absorption, and a chance of being voted the coolest backyard in town!
Related article: 12 most beautiful backyard DIY sheds made from reclaimed windows.
Related article: Make a strawberry tower with recycled nursery pots!
Love these greenhouse ideas? Pin them to your gardening boards on Pinterest!
Happy building and happy growing!