What is a tunnel greenhouse?

Tunnel greenhouses are an efficient way to have control over your growing space. High tunnel greenhouses can offer you the space you need for tall growing plants such as fruit/vegetable trees or cut flower production. Longer ground posts and the ability to house the plants that need more grow space give high tunnel greenhouses their name. 

The structure is also referred to as a hoop house because of its hoop-like frame. They can be a more simple structure of a frame with a layer of polyethylene plastic and shade cloth or one that is more high-tech with irrigation and heating systems.

Tunnel greenhouses are similar to cold frames in how they provide heat for the plants and their protection aspect. High-quality cold frames as well as tunnel greenhouses capture solar heat energy for the plants and protect them from threatening conditions with poly covering. This could be bad weather conditions such as heavy snow or threats like disease or pests. The roll-up side walls of high tunnels are not always very durable, additional bracing and spacing the hoops more narrowly may improve the durability. On each end of the structure there is an end wall that will typically have sliding or swinging doors to allow access for growers to enter the tunnel greenhouse, equipment to be moved in and out, and for opening for natural air movement. 

Benefits of a high tunnel greenhouse

Some benefits of a high tunnel greenhouse for growers include: 

  • Season extension: If you’re a grower who only grows outdoors during specific crop seasons, high tunnel greenhouses will extend your growing season because of the structure’s protection from harmful conditions. 
  • Improve soil and plant quality: The soil and plants are protected with the tunnel and roll-up sides giving the soil and plants a better growing environment which produces better quality.
  • Reduce energy use: These tunnels do not require a lot of high-tech components and do not use much energy compared to some greenhouses. 

Reduce pollen and pesticide drift: With the covering of the tunnel, when you use pesticide and pollen treatment, it will be less likely to drift into the air and affect air quality.


Yes, tunnel greenhouses are an efficient way to grow your crops. High tunnel greenhouses can provide the space you need for tall crops to reach their full potential and they will be protected from bad weather conditions.

Building your own tunnel greenhouse is an option, there are greenhouse kits that are available for purchase for you to assemble on your own. You can also buy your own materials and design and build one yourself. Some growers have built their frame out of PVC pipe and wood, then cover the frame with poly plastic.

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