Green House vs Hoop House/High Tunnel
A hoop house is a type of greenhouse that's built using a hooping or bending system. A hoop house is defined as a temporary or permanent structure typically made of, but not limited to, piping or other material covered with translucent material for the purpose of growing food or ornamental cropsA hoop house is considered more temporary than a greenhouse. A permanent hoop house is subject to building code and site plan review requirements in addition to the accessory use requirements.
High tunnels, or hoop houses, are simple greenhouse-like structures over bare ground, without the elaborate heating and cooling systems of a greenhouse. They rely primarily on passive solar heating and passive ventilation. High tunnels generally have steel pipe frames set into the ground and are covered with one or two layers of greenhouse-grade plastic. The term “high tunnel” is a loosely defined phrase for growing fruits and vegetables in greenhouses, although some high tunnels are used for cut flower production.
What's the difference between a regular greenhouse and a high tunnel greenhouse (hoop house)?
There are a few factors that separate high tunnel greenhouses from standard greenhouses. High tunnel greenhouses:
- Use Fewer Required Materials — When it comes to building high tunnel greenhouses, there are fewer materials used than with traditional greenhouses. Since the main components are metal piping and a plastic covering, the price to set up one for operation is minimal.
- Have Lower Operating Costs — While traditional greenhouses are generally equipped for heating and cooling, high tunnel greenhouses are passively heated from the sun and cooled through natural ventilation. Growers simply roll up the sides to let fresh air move through the greenhouse.
- Are Conveniently Portable & Expandable — High tunnels can be disassembled and moved to a different location if desired. Also, they can easily be expanded for additional interior growing space. Expanded high tunnels are called multi-bay high tunnels.
Despite drastic differences in construction and overall cost, high tunnel greenhouses provide many of the same benefits that traditional greenhouses offer. Both types of greenhouses allow for:
- Better Crop Control — Since both greenhouses cover and protect crops, growers have the ability to control the amount of water and sunlight crops receive. The soil is also protected from rainwater runoff, which allows it to retain its natural nutrients for increased plant health.
- Extended Growing Seasons — Both structures protect crops from extreme temperatures and weather conditions. Because of this, growers can expect at least four to six weeks of added production by planting earlier and harvesting later than they would with outdoor crops.
- Increased Growth Rates — The greenhouses help to create ideal growing conditions in any climate. Plants grow healthier and faster in optimal environments.
- Protection from Pests — Greenhouses limit crop exposure to harmful insects. This helps minimize the risk of pests and diseases that commonly wreak havoc on outdoor plants.