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or How to Grow Prosperously in Wyoming

Wyoming’s diverse climate provides unique challenges for gardens: relatively short growing seasons, troublesome winds, drought, hailstorms, and fluctuating temperatures.


In this high-altitude state, it may seem that the cooler climate may hinder noble efforts by enthusiastic gardeners, but protecting crops from harm is easier than one might think.  

Many home gardeners and small farmers are adopting hoop houses, or high tunnels, to prolong their growing seasons and expand harvests.  These curved, semi-circle structures, which can be built simply and inexpensively, are considered a passive greenhouse, requiring no input of energy to heat or cool the inside. 


Unlike alternative “covering” methods and lower cold frames, which offer limited benefits, hoop houses are easy to manage and maintain all year-round.  

In most cases, the only materials that you will need to build one are 2" sch. 40 PVC pipes for the hoops, 3/4" of the same to brace the structure, wooden baseboards for the space (not required if you are building over an existing vegetable bed or similar structure), rebar stakes to hold the pipes, and 6+ mil UV-resistant greenhouse plastic for the cover — all of which you can purchase from your local hardware supply store, except for the plastic cover, which should be and is easily purchased from a reputable online vendor.

Some useful tips and things to keep in mind:

• Site selection is crucial - level ground, good soil and drainage, no shade from large trees or structures, and parallel to prevailing winds for circulation

• 2" PVC is recommended because it fares well against high winds and snow buildup

• For every 3-4' of house length, there should be a structural support for the plastic roof

• Covering the house with the plastic is usually the most difficult part of building one, which can generally be done with one or two people, so invite some friends over to help finish it off!

• High value crops can prevail with indoor temperatures kept bearable on the cooler end of the season, and having increased temperatures in the warmer season for stronger growth

Photo by J. Riedy / CC BY 2.0

Hoop houses in the White House garden.

Photo by USDA / CC BY-ND 2.0

Not only does this allow growers to greatly improve their production of conventional crops, but it also allows them to grow non-traditional crops that would otherwise not survive in Wyoming’s climate. 


Peanuts, okra, sweet potatoes, artichokes these are a few of the many non-traditional crops that have been successfully grown in Wyoming under high tunnels.


And, as further demonstrated by the hoop houses in the White House garden pictured here, hoop houses are a widely-supported, practical solution to an age-old problem and a fortification against the unpredictability of the elements.

The hoop house is a subtle reminder of the hardiness of the West: in harnessing the best aspects of Wyoming weather, one can provide an extended season of harvest that comes with an innate sense of living off the land that so many search for.  


Like eating locally grown produce, but even better because you grew it.


10-step guide to building a hoop house from the University of Wyoming.

For a deeper dive, the University of Wyoming also has an in-depth DIY guide.

A video playlist on hoop house horticulture from the Noble Research Institute.

Another useful guide for a simple PVC hoop house written by farm owners and experts that provides a slightly different method.

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