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How to Build a Cold Frame Greenhouse

Get a Jump on the Growing Season

Want to get a jump on the growing season. Cold frames are an excellent way to extend your growing season. I’ve put together a few ideas of different types of easy to build cold frames. Make sure to go on to the next page for step by step instructions for building a cold frame using old windows and a how-to video for building a complete cold frame on wheels!

  1. Window A-Frame – Got two old windows that are no longer in use?1) A simple cold frame. green house can be built by connecting the two windows with a pair of hinges to form an A-Frame.2) Use wooden posts to hold the center of the A-frame in place, and place bales of hay around the open sides of the frame, to prevent too much of the cold, from getting into the cold frame. You’ll have to grow plants that are hardier and able to handle the cold weather, but it will be a quick, cheap, and easy cold frame to throw up. Here is an example of a single window cold frame.3)
  2. Trunk Frame – If you have an old wooden trunk, you can turn it into a nifty cold frame in just a few minutes.4) Use a screwdriver to remove the hinges from the lid, and take the lid off the trunk. Use a saws-all to cut the bottom out of the trunk, and do the same for the top of the lid. Dig a hold about 1 foot into the soil, and add a 6″ layer of gravel. Place the trunk into the hole, and fill it with 6 inches of soil. Use clear plastic sheeting as the transparent lid of the trunk, and re-connect the hinges to make your cold frame complete.
  3. PVC Frame – If you don’t want to spend a fortune, you can make a cheap hoop house greenhouse using PVC piping.5) Simply use PVC pipe lengths, corner joints, and PVC glue to make a simple rectangular solid, and bury the bottom 6 inches in soil. Use clear plastic as the walls and the lid, and staple a wooden board to one end of the plastic used as the lid. The weight of the board will ensure that the plastic stays in place, but you can easily open your clear frame when you want to access the plants, if you run into problems fastening the plastic to the greenhouse visit this popular forum thread.6)
See page 3 for this cold frame by Jeff-O on

Next are for step by step instructions for building a cold frame from scratch.

How to Make Your Own Cold Frames

Old windows or glass doors are perfect for DIY Cold Frames. You can check with window replacement companies for a free source of old windows that would be perfect for creating an entire garden of cold frames.

In fact, a great project to do inexpensively is to find a free source for these old windows, then build raised beds for a raised bed garden7) with cold frames!

But, if you can’t find—or don’t want to use—old windows, the materials list in this project includes acrylic glazing, and the pdf linked at the end provides everything you need to know to make it.

If you do want to use old windows, we’ll cover that further down. First…

Building a Cold Frame from Scratch

To get you started in building your own, here’s a materials list. We’ve included links, should you prefer to have things delivered to your door. Another option to save you time, is you can call or fax your list into most Lowe’s or Home Depot stores ahead of time and they can pull your items for you, so all you have to do is drive by on your way home to pick up and pay.

you can send your materials list to your home improvement store and they will pull the products for you to save time.

Just call your local home improvement store to confirm this is an option for you.

Materials List

* Indicates zinc-coated

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 1.16.53 PM

For the full instructions and materials list, you can download this PDF from Sac Gardens.8)

Next, are step by step instructions for building a cold frame using old windows, followed by a how-to video for building a complete cold frame on wheels!

Build a Cold Frame Greenhouse Using Old Windows

A cold frame! Basically a greenhouse with an open bottom, it can protect your plants from the elements and from animals. Because it acts like a greenhouse, you can start plants earlier in the year and keep them growing later into the year than normal.It’s easy to build one in a weekend using common tools and materials.

You’ll only need basic tools to build a cold frame. Since the cold frame will be pretty large, it’s best to build it outside or in a garage, or you may not get it out the door…TOOLS

A hand-held drill (cordless or corded)
A miter saw (powered is better, but you could do it with a hand saw and miter box)
A jig saw, circular saw or table saw (really, anything that can cut large sheets of plywood)
A screw driver
A Tape Measure
A marking implement of some sort
A paint brush


Two, Three or Four windows, with at least one dimension in common
Some 2x2s (as required)
Some 2x3s (as required)
Some 2x4s (as required)
Some inexpensive 1/8″ or 1/4″ plywood
Exterior wood screws (deck screws)
Exterior wood-sealing paint
Some galvanized or brass hinges (may not be necessary if the hinges on the windows are still good)
Some big, sturdy exterior-grade handles
A tube of latex sealant
A common heating vent (optional)

A beautiful cold frame by Jeff-O on

I was fortunate enough to have a lot of the materials just lying around already. Some were left behind by the previous owners of the house, other pieces were left from tearing apart my basement. Use reused materials where you can!

For step by step instructions go to the source of this project and photo.9)

Now, for a how-to video for building a complete cold frame on wheels!

Making A Cold Frame on Wheels


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