Greenhouse made from 2x4s and cattle panel.

This is a Cattle Panel Greenhouse. We have two. One was covered with Clear Plastic and is used as a green house. The other was covered with tarps and is used as a house for our chickens.

While this project wasn’t that difficult or complicated, it was created without any plans or measurements. You should be familiar with your tools and able to adjust as you work.

Tools needed

  • Circular Saw
  • BandSaw or Table saw. An alternative it purchase 2x2s or have some rip-cut 2x4s in half for you.
  • Drill with pilot hole bit and screwdriver bit.
  • Utility knife
  • T-50 Stapler


  • 2 cattle or combo panels. These are 4 feet 4 inches by a little more than 16 feet. These can be purchased at places like Tractor Supply Co.
  • 2 12 foot 2x4s
  • 8 or more 10 foot 2x4s (you will have some left overs)
  • Box of screws 2 1/2 inch power drive screws.
  • Box of nails 16d common sinker or deck nails (something big enough to hold the cattle panel to the 2x4s).

Bend the cattle panels to shape by tying rope to one end and looping it through the other. Then pull the rope so that it draws the two ends together. Have someone help turn the cattle panels until they are standing up correctly. Then continue to tighten the rope until the cattle panels are the right height. Make sure you have room to stand under the middle with about 4 inches extra (there will be a 2×4 holding up the middle).

The two long 2×4 (12 foot) are for the sides. They stick out in the front, to be used as handles, and in back as runners. You can then lift the front (with a helper) to move it around. Cut two boards for the front and back. They should be 3 1/2 inches less than width of the green house (measure how far apart the sides of the cattle panel are and subtract 3 1/2).

The front and rear boards on mine are 7 feet 3 inches or 87 inches.

The cattle panels are 4 feet 4 inches. So attach the front board 2 feet from one end. Drive power screws through the sides into front board.

Tighten the ropes until the cattle panels touch the wood base.

Use nails to anchor the cattle panel to the base. Drive the nails into the base below the cattle panel, then bend them over.

Rear brace
In order to figure out how to cut the angles on the rear brace, which goes from the corners of the base up to the center of the top, I laid two boards down on top of a third. I moved them around until they were wide enough at the bottom and their tops crossed at the right height. Once they were laying correct, I marked the boards at the top and bottom.

Formula in column A are entered into column B|This shows a quick spread sheet to give you the angles for the top and bottom of the brace. At the dimensions I used (87 inch base and 71 1/2 inches from base to the top, the angles are nearly 300 and 600, so you could use standard 300-600 triangle.

180px-hoophouse-calculation.jpgSpread sheet with Calculations

Rear brace installed. You can see the cross piece at the top and the pieces at the bottom. To get the angles, I just put the pieces in place and drew lines. Notice that there will be a 2×4 at the top, so make sure that the top piece is low enough to accommodate it (3 1/2 inches).

The door opening was made from a 2×4 cut in half so that it was 1 1/2 inches by 1 3/4 inches. Notice that the top of the door sits on top of the sides.

I decided how wide I wanted the door, then figured out how tall the side pieces had to be to hold the top that high.

In my case, I wanted a 2 foot 8 inch door. So the top piece was 3 feet. The sides are 5 feet 4 1/2 inches. Build and install the door frame before building the door. The door should be 1/4 inch shorter in both directions than the door opening.

There is a piece on top of the door frame that supports the top 2×4.

Door brace detail. You can use a drafting 600-300 triangle to mark the angles on the front braces. Cut the bottom angle, then hold the brace in place to figure out the length, then use the triangle to mark the correct angle. Screw through the door frame, into the brace at the top. At the base, attach in a similar manner to the rear brace.

Top angle180px-hoophouse-top-angle.JPG Bottom angle180px-hoophouse-bottom-angle.JPG

Note the wood L at the base of the door frame. It attaches the door frame to the base.

A 2×4 was installed at the top. It goes over the door and connects with the rear brace. The cattle panels were anchored to the top 2×4 with nails.

Cover with plastic. I covered it with 4mil clear plastic. It lasted about a year. The constant sun makes the plastic brittle. Apparently, there is a “Green house” plastic. I’ll try that next time I have to re-cover it.

The 2nd time I covered the greenhouse, I discovered that by covering the “triangles” on the front, near the door and the big section of the rear with separate pieces of plastic, it is much easier to anchor the top piece of plastic, without excessive gaps and folding.

The plastic is stapled down with strips of cardboard. I used the longest T-50 staples I could find.

The Door is a simple lap joint frame with an old storm window.

See additional photos here

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11 thoughts on “Greenhouse made from 2x4s and cattle panel.”

  1. Hey, just wanted to say thank you! I have really wanted to do this (ok, have my husband do this) and you have provided an easy and manageable way to do it!

    Thank you so much!

  2. These plans for the green house is quite impressive, simple to make and cost effective too. I am intested on how well it holds up over winter.

  3. Joe:

    Standard plastic lasts about a year and a half. I’ve had to re-cover it once (I had a 100 foot roll and used what was left).

    This time, I am trying 4 year green house plastic. I ordered a 20 x 25 foot piece from It was only $52 + shipping. I also ordered two rolls of 4″ tape. The green house plastic is guaranteed of 4 years.

    I am also using some reclaimed greenhouse panels for the front, rear, door and window. Here is an article I posted about the panels:

    The front and rear are done and I should have the whole thing covered this weekend. Look for photos in a week.

    Edited to add: The greenhouse is totally recovered. See the photos here:


  4. I did something very similar which is what it is the end result is basically the same. I joined two cattle panels together using some bolts, washers, and nuts to go through the open hoops and join two cattle panels side by side for their entire length. Worried about the high winds we get on a nightly basis which has flipped mobile home trailers, and torn pole barns to the ground, I was concerned about how well it might hold up to the wind. So I drove the metal fence posts, typically used for securing the cattle panels for their original and intended purpose, into the ground at each point the cattle panel is in its width, so for using two panels side by side and joined together I used three posts per each side.

    Next I realized I didn’t have the height I was looking for so I placed a cattle panel going as intended with its length running against the ground, and so I was able to raise up my hooped panels off from the ground a few feet. I then joined and connected the panels to the posts using “U-Bolts” of the appropriate sizes, and of course wrenched them down tight.

    I originally made my setup to act as a trellis for climbing vegetation by my front door going into my house, and to act as a wind block from wind and snow in the winter time. Although because I didn’t get enough vegetation growth my first year to completely go up and over the entire thing, I then later I put a tarp over the top of the hoop before winter to keep snow from falling in and blocking my front screen door opening outward. During the winter the snow piled up on top of the hoop and the winds pounded it and shook the whole system as I then even later added another tarp to the side of it, to prevent more wind and snow from continuing to snow into that area.

    Despite everything thrown at this idea, including me at 200-lbs climbing my way up there and hanging on to the hoop to hang plants come spring time, nothing has ever given me the least bit of trouble about this idea. I’ve had mine up for over four years and this system has been nothing short of amazing! In the fall last year I like the person above decided I am going to build me a greenhouse out of this system, because I know its a tried and true system which can take everything I’ve seen thrown at it including the heavy snows, ice, and rain and even extreme winds we get here in South Dakota in the most open regions.

    The only thing I questioned about this person’s design is the anchoring of it out here, because of our seriously extreme winds, I need something more than this little bit of weight to keep it in my yard and not down the road in someone’s field. Otherwise I know this system will work, and while I did go about it a bit differently than they did, I can still attest by my own design this really works and is cheaply made with excellent results!

  5. We elected to go with untreated, because it was in a greenhouse and didn’t want anything leaching onto the soil. I did choose the pine boards that looked like heartwood and had the most sap. That does help slow down the process.

  6. Thank you Compton. It’s always great to hear what other people are doing. I learned the hard way about wind… Somewhere I have a photo of my chicken coop that was blown into our pond,

  7. @Sue: somehow, WordPress ate your comment. I looked for photos of the green house as a chicken coop and was not able to find them. The only major difference was the covering. I used tarps instead of greenhouse plastic.

  8. The use of Fir or better yet Cedar wood untreated should last for many years depending of course on climate. Dryer areas resist rot.

  9. Robert: You are right. Cedar is excellent. Costs a bit more though. Also, if you carefully select the pieces of 2×4 that are heart wood (dark, dense and full of sap) they last longer.

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A computer geek with a taste for sustainable living, organic food, green products, buying local, woodworking, bicycling, running, yoga, recycling and doing-it-yourself.