DIY Covered Greenhouse Garden: A Removable Cover Solution to Protect Your Plants

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Planting season is upon us, so let me tell you a little story of how this garden came to be. When we bought a house last year, I failed to inquire about the summer weather, thinking it would be just as warm and clear as it was on our open house day. NOPE. Instead, I encountered summers full of chilly fog and harsh winds, much to the dismay of my aspiring green thumb. Determined to keep home-grown veggies on our plates, I put my thinky-brain to work and thus, this covered greenhouse garden was born.


  • 2x6s in redwood (or 2x12s, which are significantly more expensive) cut to desired lengths
  • 2x2s for cover frame (cut to match your 2x6 lengths)
  • 2x4s for corner bracing
  • Wood screws (coated for weather resistance)
  • 10' 1/2" PVC pipe
  • Pipe clamps
  • Large weave wire mesh
  • Chicken wire or other small weave mesh
  • Zip Ties (for securing mesh to PVC)
  • Plastic sheeting or garden cloth (at least 12' wide and twice the length of your garden)
  • Staple gun + staples
  • 2 Hinges
  • 2 Eye hooks
  • 6 ft chain cut into 3 ft lengths
  • Miter Saw
  • Drill
  • Staple gun

Step 1: Assemble a raised garden frame with 2x12s (or stacked 2x6s to keep costs down) and staple a small-weave mesh to the underside to protect from burrowing pests. I totally unnecessarily used pocket holes for the joints, but a simple butt joint is fine. My garden is 4' x 8', and I don't recommend going wider than 4', otherwise your arches will be too low.

Step 2: Create the frame for your cover using 2x2s, with 2x4s for corner bracing. The frame should be the same length and width as your raised garden frame.

Step 3: Bend 10-ft PVC pipes to create the arches and attach them to the cover frame with pipe clamps. Tip: drive a screw directly through the pipe into the frame to keep it from slipping out of the clamp.

Step 4: Tie a large-weave wire mesh to the PVC arches using zip-ties, wire, or electrical tape. This adds a nice layer of structural support. Alternatively you could forego the wire mesh and use 2x2s for bracing.

Step 5: Staple plastic or a medium or heavy weight garden fabric over the frame. I initially used plastic, but after finding that temperatures got too high, I switched to fabric. I used “Garden Quilt” from Gardener’s Supply online in the 12' x 20' size.

Step 6: Determine which side your cover will hinge from (Tip: make sure you will be able to access your plants easily when the cover is open). Attach two hinges between the cover and the base on this side, and about 3 ft of chain to each side, perpendicular to the hinged side.

Step 7: Fill the bed with your favorite soil mix and plant those plants! Bonus points for adding in a soaker hose or drip system hooked up to an automatic timer.

So how did my garden do over the chilly summer? See for yourself!

My garden in September

I've had this garden for over a year now, and as you can see, it did pretty darn well! I've learned quite a lot, so I brain-dumped it into a pros-and-cons list for you.

PROS of a covered greenhouse in a cold and foggy summer:

  • Plus 10-15 degree temperature increase.
  • Large critters (birds, squirrels, etc) are a non issue.
  • Harmful bugs are kept at bay (I got some slugs later in the season, but some Sluggo took care of them).
  • Protection from heavy winds.
  • Plants seem to thrive overall.
  • Yield is potentially greater than a non-covered version.
  • Ability to grow certain heat-loving plants that you normally wouldn't in my climate.
  • Extended growing season (I had a sprinkling of tomatoes all the way until January, and my Swiss chard continued strong through the winter and is now HUGE!)


  • Not enough sunlight (though this might be less about the cover and more about the fog).
  • Beneficial bugs are kept away, requiring manual pollination.
  • Less flavorful crops due to reduced sunlight.
  • Leaves are more mold/mildew prone.
  • Fruit/veggies tend to rot faster after ripening.
  • Height restriction for certain plants (tomatoes had 4' growing space max).

I was so happy with the results last year that I think I'm going to add a second one in the next few weeks. I'm thinking strawberry towers and watermelons, yum!

For a complete tutorial and lots of Q+A goodness, visit my original post here. For a full plant-by-plant report on how the crop did over the summer, click here.

(Image credits: Stephanie Strickland)