In this tutorial I am going to explain how I created a sort of PVC greenhouse row cover out of PVC pipe and some cheap landscape timbers and was able to plant crops way earlier than anyone else.
For this project you will need the following materials:
- (1) 10′ piece of 1″ PVC pipe
- 30′ of 3/4″ black poly pipe (80 PSI)
- (5) 4″ x 8′ Landscape timbers (untreated)
- (1) roll galvanized pipe strap (1/2″ x 25′ should be fine)
- 10′ x 25′ of clear plastic
- (1) roll of twine
- (50) 1/2″ wood screws (may want to get a few extra for good measure.)
- (2) short wooden or metal stakes
- Approximately 22 cubic feet of good top soil
This is a no-frills, cheap way to create a PVC greenhouse for a 4′ x 16′ garden row allowing you to plant a month or two early and extend the garden season by a month or so.
You will need at least a 6′ wide by 20′ long garden space free of grass, weeds, etc. and should be leveled before beginning this project.
The area should also be worked up and make ready for planting down to 8 inches or so.
1. Start out by cutting the 1″ PVC into (10) 6″ pieces using a hacksaw or whatever method works best for you.
2. Likewise cut the black poly pipe into (5) 6′ pieces.
3. Cut one of the landscape timbers in half leaving you with (2) 4′ pieces.
4. layout the landscape timbers in a rectangle shape of 4′ wide by 16′ long making sure the timbers are level and even with each other. Use the (2) 4′ pieces to close off the ends. (see figure 1)
5. After you have it laid out as indicated, use the pipe strap to secure the timbers together. Small pieces 3 or 4 inches long should be fine secured on each side with a wood screw.
6. Use a trowel to dig a 2 ” hole hole every 4 foot along the inside edge of the rectangle. This will be for setting the 6″ pieces of 1″ PVC into the ground. Set the pieces 2 inches into the ground leaving 4 inches sticking above ground. Pack the soil firmly around the pipe and then use short lengths of the pipe strap to secure the PVC pieces to the timbers on each side. (See figure 2)
This is what the galvanized pipe strap looks like by the way:
7. You will now need to fill the inside of the garden row with good top soil level with the top of the landscape timbers. You may want to cover the pieces of PVC with some duct tape or something similar to keep dirt out of them.
8. Now that the 6″ pieces of PVC are secure and the garden area is filled with good top soil.. arch the black poly pipe across the garden by placing each end down in the 6″ pieces of PVC we just buried into the ground and secured to the timbers. Repeat the process for all 5 pieces of poly pipe until you have a sort of tunnel framework.
9. When all 5 pieces of the black poly pipe are in place, tie the end of the twine around a stake driven into the ground about 2 feet in front of the garden row then stretch it up to the top dead center of the first poly pipe, wrap it a few times and continue to the next poly pipe. Continue this process down the line until you reach the opposite side.
Once you reach the opposite side, wrap the twine a few times around the last poly pipe and then tie it off on another stake driven into the ground about 2 feet out from the garden. (See figure 3)
Repeat step 8 except instead of going down the top dead center of the poly pipes, this time go down 45 degrees from top dead center one either side wrapping the twine a few times around each poly pipe and then proceeding to the next. Once again do the opposite side going down 45 degrees from top dead center all the way down the garden row wrapping each poly pipe with the twine a few times and then tying it off at the end stake.
When complete, you should have (3) pieces of twine tied to the front stake and going all the way down the poly pipe, wrapping a few time around each one and tied off at the end stake, one on each side of the garden row and one down the top dead center.
This will give the “greenhouse the rigidity it needs to hold up under wind, rain and other inclement weather.
10. Now you simply spread the plastic over the framework securing the sides and front of the plastic with bricks or other heavy objects. You can also staple pieces of wood to the edges of the plastic on either side for better control.
On warm days be sure to open the ends of the greenhouse to allow a little air circulation else it will get too hot and burn young tender plants.
Once the weather gets past danger of frost for your zone you can easily remove the greenhouse and store it for use the following fall to extend the growing season.
You may also be able to improve upon this design.. this is what worked for me at the time and it worked very well I might add, however, feel free to let your imagination and creativity guide you a little on this project.
I apologize for not having better pictures.. I failed to take any pictures while building this PVC greenhouse row cover a good many years back (what was I thinking anyway?!!)