Updated: November 22, 2019
Hoop house kits make it fast and easy to get a high tunnel in your backyard.
They give you a way to plant as much as six weeks earlier in spring and extend the season later into the fall — with no need to add artificial heat. In fact, if you live in a place where the winters don’t get very cold, you could possibly garden all year round.
So it’s no wonder a hoop house kit is an appealing idea to backyard growers.
It becomes even more appealing when you see that there are so many small hoop house kits available.
Let’s take a sec to get the legal words out of the way. This article may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy from my partners, I will make a tiny amount of money. This in no way affects my recommendations.
Let’s review the one I bought plus two other options.
Table of Contents
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Interestingly enough, hoop house growing is so appealing that people have coined a new term: protected culture.
You already know about “agriculture” and “aquaculture.” Increasingly, weekend gardeners practice “permaculture.” Similarly, protected culture refers to a type of plant growing.
Protected culture means using season extending techniques, for example, cold frames, hoop house kits, polytunnels, high tunnels, greenhouses, etc. to grow plants in environments that are protected from the elements.
In addition, protected culture has great advantages for the backyard grower.
Maine farmer and author Eliot Coleman put it this way: “Low-cost tunnel greenhouses work so well that if the public were more familiar with them, I think every gardening family would have one.”
Certainly, gardening in a hoop house in the off season has its advantages:
- No bugs to bother you or eat your plants
- Fewer wild animals to dig up or chomp down on your vegetables
- Lower temperature means less watering
- Longer growing season means more and better results
So why are hoop houses still rare among backyard vegetable growers?
One of the main reasons is because building a structure that (1) looks decent, (2) won’t collapse in the snow or (3) won’t blow away in the wind is a daunting construction project (at least for some people).
Furthermore, assembling even an “easy-to-assemble” hoop house kit can still be beyond the skills of many gardeners.
So a truly easy-to-assemble hoop house kit is pretty appealing for many gardeners. Unfortunately, the kits that are available still seem to require at least some carpentry skills.
Many people report in the gardening forums that assembly was much more challenging than the supplier advertised. However, once they built the hoop house, most people were pleased with the results.
To help make it more easy for gardeners to find an inexpensive hoop house kit for their backyard, I’ve assembled some basic information about what’s available.
This guide is limited to hoop houses and not greenhouses because high poly tunnels (as hoop houses are also called) are inexpensive, easier to move and less time consuming to maintain.
Review Weatherguard Kit
The two main components in hoop house kits are the (1) frame and the (2) cover.
I’ve been using the Weatherguard hoop house kit (bought from Amazon) since 2016. Although the brand on Amazon and other stores is listed as Weatherguard, the company that manufacturers it is Jewett-Cameron Company.
Before I get into the specifics of this review, I want you to know that I had no difficulties assembling the Weatherguard. More specifically, it took me and another person only two hours to put together.
Still, Weatherguard could have made it easier with better directions. However, someone with more assembly experience probably wouldn’t have even looked at the directions.
My hoop house kit’s frame
I’ve been very impressed with the frame that comes as part of this kit. It has held together quite nicely in spite of some very windy weather and heavy snow. During an extremely bad spring storm it came loose from the anchors and tumbled a couple hundred feet until it came to rest on some small trees.
Some of the hoops came apart, but there was no lasting damage to the frame or the cover — nothing that I couldn’t fix by re-assembling.
My hoop house kit’s cover
While Weatherguard made a great frame, the cover is another story.
After the first year, the door zipper pretty much stopped working. Plus, the screening for the back window ripped for no reason. (Window screening is important because that’s what keeps hornets from making nests inside the hoop house.)
After the second year, the cover ripped on the edge due to some heavy, wet snow, making the hoop house unusable.
In the third year, I ordered a new cover from Weatherguard. Right away, I could see that it was much better. The door zippers seemed stronger. The window screens and the plastic cover were reinforced throughout.
Above all, the cover was all one piece, making it much quicker to put on (and keep in place).
Now that I’ve had a couple of seasons with the new cover, I’m very impressed. More specifically, the zippers are working fine. The cover is functioning as it should. The frame is still holding up.
In short, when looking at new hoop house kits, the Weatherguard was a good investment if you take into account the new cover.
When I was shopping for new hoop house kits, there were two others that I considered. At the time, I liked the way Weatherguard made the door and windows. So I didn’t go with either of these.
Here are the details on these two high tunnel kits:
Gardman Small Poly-Tunnel
|Shipping||Free with Prime|
Abba Patio Hoop House
|Shipping||Free with Prime|
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