How to create easy hoop row covers in the garden

Creating Budget-Friendly Row Cover Hoops

Do you struggle with pesky cabbage worms ruining your cole crops? Are you tired of expensive premade row cover hoops? Well, fret no more! In this article, I’ll show you how to create your own easy and affordable row cover hoops using flexible PVC pipes. Not only will they protect your plants from cabbage worms, but they can also shield them from frost damage. So, let’s get started!

Materials Needed for the Hoops

To make these DIY row cover hoops, you’ll need a few materials:

  • Flexible PVC pipe with a diameter of 1/2″ for the hoops. Be sure to choose the type that is both flexible and rigid for optimal performance.
  • PVC pipe with a diameter of 3/4″ to create slots for easy installation and removal of the hoops.
  • Pipe clips (if you have raised beds) to attach the hoops securely.

DIY row cover hoops with insect cloth

How Much Pipe Do You Need?

To ensure proper support and prevent sagging, it’s recommended to place the hoops at each end and every 2 feet in between. For maximum stability, limit the hoop length to a maximum of 3 feet.

As for the 3/4″ pipe slots, you’ll need two pieces per hoop—one on each side. The length of these slots can be approximately 6 inches. While not essential, these slots make adding or removing the hoops a breeze.

When it comes to the height of the hoops, it entirely depends on your specific needs. Consider what you’ll be growing and the desired protection level. For instance, if you want to safeguard young tomato plants during late spring frosts or shield all your greens from insects, opt for a taller hoop design. In this example, we’ll use 8’6″ pieces of 1/2″ pipe for extra versatility.

Detail of the slot installation for the PVC hoop

Example Material List for a 4×8 Bed

Here’s a breakdown of the materials you’ll need for a standard 4×8 bed (price estimates included):

  • (5) 8′ long 1/2″ PVC pipe hoops: $3.77 each x 5 = $19.85
  • (10) 6″ pieces of 3/4″ PVC pipe for slots: $5.98
  • (10) Pipe clamps (package of 10): $2.28
  • Total cost: $28.11

Insect Cloth or Frost Cloth?

Now that your row cover hoops are ready, it’s time to choose the right cloth to cover your plants. For both frost protection and insect control, I highly recommend the AgFabric brand. They offer top-quality frost cloth and insect cloth options.

Keep in mind that the size of your hoop design determines the minimum cloth size you’ll need. AgFabric’s multipurpose frost cloth, measuring 10′ x 100′, costs $38.73. While this might be more than necessary, it works brilliantly for taller hoops and covers multiple beds. However, if you require a smaller quantity, AgFabric also offers different widths and lengths to suit your needs.

Alternatively, you can try using tulle as a cost-effective substitute for insect protection. A bolt of 108″ x 50 yards of tulle can be purchased for just $20.40!

For temporary frost protection, you can also use painters plastic drop cloths or blankets, which are readily available and can save you some money.

PVC pipe for hoops used as a row cover for insect protection

Holding the Cloth in Place

To secure the fabric to your hoops, I recommend using two types of clamps instead of traditional clothespins. These clamps are much more convenient and provide a firm grip. You can also use rocks to hold down the fabric on some sides. For attaching the fabric to the pipe, large clips come in handy when dealing with excess material.

Clamps to hold insect cloth to row cover hoops
Note: The clamps may be difficult to spot in the image, but they are bright white and located at the bottom.

Enjoy a Pest-Free Garden

Say goodbye to the days of constantly picking cabbage worms off your precious plants! With your DIY row cover hoops and the right cloth, you’ll be able to protect your crops from harmful insects and unexpected frosts.

Why you need hoop row covers: Cabbage Looper worm eating a kale leaf

Explore More Gardening Tips and Tricks

If you’re eager to expand your gardening knowledge, be sure to check out my other informative garden posts. Don’t miss out on any future updates—subscribe to get new posts delivered directly to your inbox. Plus, join me on Instagram for some delightful gardening inspiration!

Remember, creating your own row cover hoops is not only cost-effective but also empowers you to protect your plants with ease. Get started today and enjoy a thriving garden all year round!

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