Hoop frames are a great way to support any kind of covering over a garden. They can be used for a cold frame to protect from frost damage, with netting to prevent damage by birds and squirrels and rabbits, and even to prevent insect damage. Hoop frames can be made in various sizes, from small covers for a 4′ wide raised-bed garden, to a full sized greenhouse. In this post, we’ll be making small frames for the raised bed garden. The material will be half-inch EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing), commonly known as metal conduit.

The trick to bending hoop frames is having the right tool for the job – in this case, we’ll be building a jig designed for the job. Without a bending jig, you end up with kinked pipe and uneven bends. Aesthetics play a big role in enjoying your garden. Make sure that what goes into the garden is neat and attractive looking.

This jig was built using mostly scraps. The plywood was a badly warped piece that probably should have been cut up and thrown away long ago. The 2×4 pieces were various short pieces that I just couldn’t bear to throw away, so they were stacked in the pole barn. The table frame that they are mounted on was originally built to hold a container garden at waist-high level. The clamps were needed not only to secure the plywood base to the table frame, but to flatten down some major warp in the plywood.

Materials Needed

  • 10′ section of 1/2″ EMT for each hoop
  • 1/2″ PVC 1120 pipe (thin wall) for in-the-ground legs
  • 2×4 to make the arc of the jig
  • Plywood for the base of the jig
  • 1/4-20 x 2 1/2″ bolts and nuts and washers

In the next post, we’ll show how we used it to add netting to prevent damage from squirrels and birds.

Measure from the center point at the top of the arc to find where you need to start the bend.

Start bending the EMT around the jig.

Continue bending the EMT, making sure that it stays flat against the base and doesn't slip.

When the bend is complete, make sure that you don't bend it any more since it is no longer supported by the jig and you will have an uneven bend.

Remove the hoop frame from the jig and adjust if needed.

The finished hoop frame pushed directly into the growing mixture. For taller hoop frames, you may want to insert lengths of PVC pipe over the ends.