What Is a Hoop House? Garden Tips 2024

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Gardening year-round means you can have access to all your fresh fruits and vegetables, even in the winter. To do this, however, you need a structure that will keep the cold out and protect your delicate plants. Find out if a hoop house is right for your garden.

What is a hoop house? A hoop house has a large frame with a curved, plastic covering for a roof. It is large enough to walk in and cover the crops you want protected but it is not a permanent structure.

What is the purpose of a hoop house?

A hoop house is made to take the heat of the sun and amplify it. The result is a warmer micro-climate so you can grow crops even in the winter.

The efficacy of a hoop house hinges on how warm your natural climate is, however. This is because it has no extra heating, as a greenhouse would.

So, if you have extremely cold winters, you shouldn’t expect a tropical setting inside your hoop house. However, a hoop house will allow you to plant earlier in the spring and protect your crops from frost for longer in the fall.

Are hoop houses greenhouses?

Even though hoop houses look like greenhouses, they are technically different types of structures. Here are some differences between hoop houses and greenhouses.

Structure type

A hoop house is not a permanent structure, whereas a greenhouse is permanent. However, a hoop house should still be large enough to cover all your crops and be tall enough for you to walk under it.

Typically, a greenhouse is built in an area of your garden and stays there. A hoop house, on the other hand, is constructed at the beginning of a growing season and comes down at the end of the year.

Sturdier hoop houses can be left for longer but they may experience wear and tear due to the elements, so you may need to replace them every few years. Greenhouses will also have climate control, such as fans and heaters, so they need electrical access.


Due to its permanent structure, a greenhouse will have a cement slab for its foundation. This will keep the structure sturdier and allow you to have more control over how it is designed.

A hoop house is not permanent, so it makes no sense to have a foundation. Instead, the base of the structure, including the hoops that hold up the tarp, go right into the ground.


Finally, a greenhouse will have more features than a hoop house. This includes ventilation panels for more airflow as well as a heating unit so that tropical plants can grow in the winter.

Even though a hoop house doesn’t have extra features, the fact it can be deconstructed is one of its advantages. You can move it to different areas of your garden and even take it down if you need to move.

Pros of Hoop Houses

Inexpensive to maintain

While you will need to purchase the materials to build a hoop house, costs are minimal after construction. There is no need to worry about cooling or heating, so there won’t be an unexpected utility bill.

Vents along sides

To help create a more stable environment in the summer, hoop houses have flaps along the side. You can then move the material out of the way to allow fresh air inside, which will keep the structure cooler in the summer.

Variety of crops

One of the major benefits of hoop houses is that you can grow a wider variety of crops inside them than if you were to plant just in your garden. The growing season is especially lengthened, which is perfect if you live in an area with long winters.

Instead of waiting for the middle of May to plant crops in your garden, you can start them as early as February or March. This way you can maximize your growing season and get multiple harvests out of crops.

Cons of Hoop Houses

Effort to build

There are many hoop house kits available that come with all the materials you need but you will still need to put the effort in by yourself. This can be a lot of work, especially if you aren’t naturally handy.

The hoops that make the bones of the structure need to be placed deep enough into the dirt so they don’t blow away. This can translate to a lot of manual labor with all the digging.

If you want to save money, you can source the materials yourself. However, finding the right tarp that is large enough can be an issue.

No extra heating

Unlike a greenhouse, which will have heaters set up, a hoop house can only amplify the natural warmth for the outside. While it can warm the air up considerably, you shouldn’t expect scorching temperatures during the winter.

Furthermore, the nights will still be colder than the days, which means the temperature variations can affect crops. If you have extremely cold winters, your hoop house may still become frosty at night, so plan your crops accordingly.

No lighting

There is no extra lighting inside a hoop house, so your crops will still grow according to the natural light they are exposed to. This means plants won’t grow faster in the spring or summer because daylight hours can’t be changed.

How to grow plants using hoop houses


Growing plants inside a hoop house are relatively easy, which is why they are so popular. As always, the first step is doing a bit of research.

Start by deciding what crops you want to plant. Then, look at their requirements, particularly when it comes to air and soil temperatures.

If you can, build your hoop house in the fall as it will be easier to break up the ground for the structure before frost hits. Then, in the late winter or early spring, you can start to monitor the temperature inside the hoop house to align it with your seed requirements.

You can expect a hoop house to be up to 30 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. However, because there is no heating, it will cool off overnight. If you can, use a thermometer to track the temperatures in your hoop house for a better understanding of how it performs.


A hoop house is meant to cover the ground and not be too deep, so in-ground planting is the best option. While you can install a hoop house around raised garden beds, be sure to take into any height restrictions, especially if you are a taller person.


Your crops may grow faster in a hoop house thanks to the warmer temperature, so be prepared for an earlier harvest on some items. If it’s your first year using a hoop house, be sure to monitor your plants every day or so because the growing cycle will differ from planting them outside.

Temperature and water

Warmer temperatures inside the hoop house mean plants will need more water. Furthermore, you can’t rely on rainwater, so a strict water schedule should be maintained.

The humidity will be higher inside a hoop house, however, so this may benefit certain plants. However, if your plants are exposed to too much moisture, you will need to open the vents to allow fresh air to cleanse the area.


Many crops are not ready for harvest until late summer or early fall and with some climates, this is a perilous time. Early frosts can damage crops, meaning you need to work hard to harvest before it gets too cold or risk seeing all your hard work go down the drain.

The warmer temperature inside a hoop house means you have a longer harvest period as the threat of frost will hold off for much of winter. Sometimes this will even allow a second harvest if you time your planting right.

You can also harvest some crops well into winter if they are cool-weather crops. Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and leeks prefer cooler temperatures but the ground still needs to be above freezing for them to grow, which is what a hoop house can provide.

Other alternatives


The most common alternative to a hoop house is a greenhouse. This is a larger, permanent structure that has more features such as heating and cooling.

Patio Tunnel

One of the benefits of a hoop house is that it stops insects from devouring your crops. If this is your main focus of wanting a hoop house, you can look into alternatives such as a patio tunnel.

This is much smaller and fits over a few containers. As the name suggests, it is meant for small spaces, such as a patio or balcony. The whole structure comes in one piece which makes it easy to move.


If you want to protect your crops from the extreme cold but don’t want to invest in a greenhouse, a hoop house is a great alternative. They will extend your growing and harvest season and if you need to move them, they are not permanent.

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