44 Easy DIY Cold Frame Plans for Year-Round Gardening
Cold frames are a great way of producing homegrown and nutritious foods outside of the normal growing seasons. They provide for heavy harvests without needing insane investments.
While mini-greenhouses can work to shelter seedlings prior to their planting in spring, cold frames actually keep plants alive through the cold winter season.
A commercial cold frame is a great addition to any garden, but DIY cold frames are even more beautiful and easy to assemble. Even better, DIY setups use upcycled materials to provide you with a creative cold frame.
I have put together a list of DIY cold frames to light the way for you and give your creativity a boost.
If you like these free cold frame plans, you may also like ones for building a grow box, planter box, raised garden bed, garden container, hydroponic system, aquaponic system, LED grow light, plant stand, potting bench, tower garden, drip irrigation system.
- 1. Simple Heated Cold Frame
- 2. DIY Homemade Cold Frame
- 3. Professional-Looking Cold Frame with a Paver Foundation
- 4. Basic Cold Frame Using Old Windows
- 5. Quick and Easy Cold Frame
- 6. DIY Portable Cold Frame
- 7. DIY Cold Frame With a Lightweight Lid
- 8. DIY Flip-Top Cold Frame
- 9. Plexiglass Cold Frame
- 10. Basic Cold Frame with a Planter Row
- 11. DIY Transparent Cold Frame
- 12. DIY PVC Cold Frame
- 13. DIY Cold Frame Tent
- 14. DIY Raised Bed Cold Frame
- 15. PVC Cold Frame Hoop House
- 16. Amish Cold Frame
- 17. Plastic Bottle Cold Frames
- 18. Portable Raised Bed Cold Frame
- 19. Impressively Simple Cold Frame
- 20. DIY Glassless Cold Frame
- 21. Compact Cold Frame With an Old Window
- 22. Cold Frame Table
- 23. Missouri Extension Heated Cold Frame
- 24. Vertical Cold Frame
- 25. DIY Pallet and Window Cold Frame
- 26. Cinder Block Cold Frame
- 27. Hinged-Top Cold Frame
- 28. DIY Brick Cold Frame
- 29. Weekend DIY Cold Frame
- 30. DIY Wooden Cold Frame
- 31. Clean-Cut Professional Cold Frame
- 32. DIY Hay Bales Cold Frame
- 33. DIY Inexpensive Cold Frame
- 34. Raised Garden Bed Cold Frame with Supports
- 35. DIY Glass-Framed Cold Frame Plan
- 36. Easy Store Cold Frame
- 37. Beautiful Brick and Upcycled Window Cold Frame
- 38. Simple Plastic Tunnel Cold Frame
- 39. DIY Square 48x48-inch Cold Frames
- 40. DIY Treated Fence Pailings Cold Frame
- 41. Traditional 48x96-inch Cold Frame
- 42. DIY Miniature Plywood Cold Frame
- 43. Butterfly Light Cold Frame
- 44. Rectangular Raised Bed Cold Frame
1. Simple Heated Cold Frame
Most DIY cold frames are basic. They are basically a bottomless box sporting a window facing the sky. While they work perfectly to lengthening your garden season, why not throw in something extra for uniqueness.
This tutorial by the BHG blog provides a DIY cold frame with a heating option. It is low costs, basic, easy to build and will take a weekend or two to set up.
When done, you can place it on your patio, deck or over your garden bed. The blog tutorial features step-by-step instructions that are easy for beginners to follow.
2. DIY Homemade Cold Frame
If you are a gardener, a cold frame is your best friend. This will help you keep at your hobby at all year long regardless of the low temperatures.
Good thing, with this Grow Veg blog tutorial, you do not have to spend a fortune to own your cold frame.
With some few wood pieces, some basic DIY woodworking skills and a tutorial to guide you through, you are more than set.
The cold frame is basic and can be built from recycled wood. Get in control of your gardening with this DIY cold frame.
3. Professional-Looking Cold Frame with a Paver Foundation
DIY projects are often mistaken for sloppy and below standard projects. But this is far from the case. This blog tutorial by This Old House blog is a testament to this.
The tutorial describes the building of a professional looking old frame. But though basic, the cold frame will be the center of attraction when family and friends come over. Good thing it requires basic DIY skills.
The cold frame is designed for placement over a garden bed. For support and foundation, you need to be creative. The blog tutorial suggests using pavers for the foundation and support.
4. Basic Cold Frame Using Old Windows
This is yet another creative cold frame perfect for any gardener. If you happen to have any old windows lying around, this Instructable PDF tutorial is perfect for you.
I love it because it is easy to build using widely available material and with common easy to use tools. The guide provides a basic plan and layout for the setup using its old windows.
But seeing that window dimensions and designs differ, you will have to make relevant adjustments and be creative in the process as well. You can have the top at an angle or flat.
5. Quick and Easy Cold Frame
Successful seeding requires some bit of infrastructure. You could set up a full-fledged greenhouse of convert your basement into one.
But if you are just starting out or have minimal seeding needs, these prove to be too much. For you, a cold frame will work just fine.
Best thing is that DIY cold frames like this one by the Hudson Valley Seed blog are easy to build and fairly inexpensive.
Following the blog tutorial, expect to spend about $100 for the entire project. If you can recycle wood, even better and the costs will be even lower.
6. DIY Portable Cold Frame
If you are looking for a simple cold frame that you can build in a day but will serve you for a very long time, then this is a perfect DIY project for you.
Though basic, the cold frame is highly effective. It has a slanted glass face split into two windows. The frame as a whole is made from wood.
The PDF tutorial by Sac Gardens details the process of building the cold frame. I love the fact that it is portable and can be used in any part of the garden.
7. DIY Cold Frame With a Lightweight Lid
Think of cold frames like time machines. But unlike time machines in Sci-Fi movies, cold frames do not require you to be a rocket scientist to set up.
This particular cold frame by the Vegetable Gardener blog directs you into building a one of a kind cold frame featuring a lightweight lid.
There is a cool and seemingly complicated mechanism on the hinges that includes springs. But nonetheless, the instructions and tutorial make the building process easy for beginners too.
The frames of this DIY project were made from normal 0.75-inch white pine but you could also use cedar. Since the wood dries up fast, you do not have to worry about it rotting.
8. DIY Flip-Top Cold Frame
All of the cold frame designs so far are similar. They feature a sky-facing top finished with glass or vinyl. This particular cold frame by the Grit blog, however, does thing slightly differently.
The cold frame detailed in the blog tutorial features a roll of corrugated plastic measuring 96x96 inches. But the cold frame measures 144-inches long so you will have to do some cutting to fit the plastic on the frame.
For this project, you need to get a cold frame kit from FarmTek. The kit includes heavy duty vinyl H-channels strips. These are used to trim the corrugated plastic ends.
The blog tutorial guides you through the building process.
9. Plexiglass Cold Frame
This cold frame features a plexiglass top. The plexiglass provides for a rigid surface repelling rain and snow. However, the plexiglass still allows enough light into the cold frame for the plants to grow healthy.
Given, this may not be the cheapest cold frame option on this list, but it is one of the strongest DIY setups listed. In lieu of the plexiglass, you may choose to use an old door.
Following the DIY Network build tutorial, you will build a unit measuring 72x36 inches. You can, however, make necessary modification to suit your needs.
10. Basic Cold Frame with a Planter Row
If you are to make a DIY cold frame, it is recommended that you make it light enough to move it around. Sure you can make a heavy and permanent unit, but portability provides more convenience.
If you love the convenience and the thought of having an extra row to place your potted plants excites you, get started on this DIY project by Popular Mechanics. Though basic, the cold frame works to extend your gardening season.
This cold frame has an open bottom and is made from wood. The tutorial provides images to give you a better understanding of the project.
11. DIY Transparent Cold Frame
Most cold frames have a transparent top. This is a basic requirement. However, very few if any, have transparent sides as well. And while it adds efficiency to the unit, it also adds to its overall beauty.
The Sunset blog explains this project in detail. Given that it features a transparent material on all sides, there is a tendency of the temperatures to rise to critical levels.
As such, with this cold frame, you will need a thermometer and periodically open the lids to regulate the temperatures.
Following the tutorial, you also will notice the frame is sunk into the ground to about 10 inches. This is to increase the frame’s heat retention.
But because of this design, you should ensure the location you build it on has great drainage.
12. DIY PVC Cold Frame
This project is simple, and most importantly creative. I love that it has been made from simple materials.
To build the cold frame as detailed in the PVC Plans tutorials, you will need a plastic sheeting and PVC. Overall the PVC cold frame is basic but gets the job done by retaining heat and allowing easy access through its triangular roof.
Speaking of the roof, it is hinged. Now, since the plastic sheeting is rather delicate, to maintain the efficiency of the cold frame, you may have to replace the plastic sheeting on a yearly basis.
13. DIY Cold Frame Tent
This cold frame is probably inspired by a kid’s tent. It is creatively simple. If you have a raised bed, all you will need to build is the top of this cold frame.
But in the event you do not have a raised bed, you can build a box around your garden with minimal difficulty and mount the triangular top of the cold frame.
The tent-design allows for plants to grow to reasonable heights without any restrictions. According to the Dunn Lumber blog tutorial, you need heavy plastic sheeting, some lumber, a dowel, screws, and nails.
The size of the cold frame can be varied depending on your garden size and general need.
14. DIY Raised Bed Cold Frame
If you have a raised bed and some scrap wood left over from a previous project, this is the best DIY cold frame plan to embark on.
The process simply involves building frames over your garden bed and using UV Resistant plastic to cover the built frames.
Working with recycled wood, you might only have to spend about $25 on the UV resistant plastic. This cold frame is functional and with slight variations, it can handle runoffs from the rain with great ease.
Following the Garden Log Blog, the project is truly a beginner project.
15. PVC Cold Frame Hoop House
If you are looking for a strong cold frame, one that can resist and withstand the pressures of heavy snow, then this cold frame is perfect.
This cold frame by the Garden Fork.TV is simple and provides ample space for plants like sunflower and kale to grow tall.
The blog tutorial details that when building the hoop house on a raised bed, it is imperative to ensure that the frame is an exact fit. It, however, does not have to be flush with the soil and airtight.
16. Amish Cold Frame
This beautiful cold frame does not exactly come with plans to follow. As such, it will take some time to plot and plan to recreate it. But be it as it may, it comes with a simple enough design and structure.
It is cute and resembles a small house or tent. I love the fact that both sides of the roof are hinged and flip open. It is important to note that the lids are independent of each other.
The roofing frame is surrounded covered by plastic sheeting. And the cold frame measures 66x24 inches. Follow the In My Kitchen Garden blog for insight on how to set up the cold frame.
17. Plastic Bottle Cold Frames
Using plastic bottles for any DIY project is fulfilling. There is the creative aspect and also the fact that you get to keep the environment clean.
If you seem to have piles of plastic bottles in your house, this is the perfect DIY project for you. Agreed, it is a rather unusual cold frame and one might wonder if it is effective. Well, it is.
With some bit of caulk between your bottles, the frame will be completely sealed and will retain heat. Be sure to leave some gaps for the ventilation. The Three Hundred and Sixty-Six blog tutorial takes you the building process.
18. Portable Raised Bed Cold Frame
Describing this cold frame as simple is an understatement. Literally, a newbie DIYer can hack this project. But despite its ease of setting up, the cold frame is effective. It measures 24x24 inches and can be moved with great ease.
On this project, you can choose to cut the lumber yourself or have them precut professionally at a local improvement store to save you the trouble involved in measuring and cutting the lumber.
The Bonnie Plant blog guides you through the entire project and provides perspective diagrams to guide you through as well.
19. Impressively Simple Cold Frame
As its name implies, this cold frame is absolutely simple to build. The How-To-Specialist details the project in its blog tutorial. The tutorial includes a material list and step-by-step instructions as well.
In this setup, the hardest bit is probably getting the angled top perfect. But aside from this portion of the project, in its entirety, it can be put together in about a week.
If you have advanced DIY skills, it can be done in several hours.
20. DIY Glassless Cold Frame
The entire working of a cold frame is hinged on the glass top that traps heat right? Well, not quite. Several materials can help trap the heat and make a great cold frame.
In this case, a skylight dome was used. If you have an old skylight dome lying around, putting the cold frame together is a piece of cake. The Instructables PDF tutorial takes you through it.
All you have to do is build a frame for the dome and plant it in your garden and you are good to go.
The fact that there is no glass in use makes the cold frame perfect for pets and children to be around.
21. Compact Cold Frame With an Old Window
There are very many cold frame designs – clearly. But very few of these can be said to be neat and compact. Most cold frames tend to be large and bulky.
This cold frame by the Savvy Gardening blog, however, is compact and light. It features a single pane old window for the top. The sides are made from 2x6 boards.
Well, the plywood frames are thicker than those of most but the great part is that the cold frame does a good job at keeping the temperatures high.
22. Cold Frame Table
With creativity, the sky is the limit. The Ron Hazelton blog tutorial is a testament to this. While other DIYers are building low and on-ground cold frames, he decides to build one with frames supporting it at a comfortable height.
On its top, the unit features an acrylic sheet. This allows for plenty of light. Below the cold frame is a shelf providing storage space. As such, when not in use, the cold frame can double as a potting table.
The video tutorial on the blog shares how to build the cold frame.
23. Missouri Extension Heated Cold Frame
Here is what I love about this project. Not only does the University of Missouri Extension provide guidance in building a functional cold frame, the bog tutorial also teaches on how one can build a hotbed.
A hotbed is simply a heated cold frame. For this, the tutorial details by piling up extra insulation on the sides.
These hotbeds are great in the cold environment since the warmth of the compost will keep the plants going through the harsh conditions.
24. Vertical Cold Frame
If you love upcycling, you will without a doubt fall in love with this project. I love it because it is a unique project and because it features repurposed window frames.
The cold frame has been designed to rest on a wall. It has been created and designed as a half-cold frame and a half-greenhouse.
It features a transparent top and on its sides. This enables it to capture more heat. The Epic Gardening Blog takes you through the entire project.
25. DIY Pallet and Window Cold Frame
Pallets, like empty plastic bottles are fun to work with. The fact that they are locally available and for free gets my heart racing. In addition to the upcycled pallet, the windows are also recycled.
Other than some nails, you might spend nothing on the project. The project as described in the Color It Green is simple and straightforward. It is a project perfect for beginners.
26. Cinder Block Cold Frame
This is a rather creative way of building your cold frame. The fact that it is solid and strong is a plus. In The Garden Lady of Georgia blog, the tutorial details how you go about insulating the cinder blocks and subsequently the cold frame.
You can either use wood chips or plastic air bags and bubble wraps. For the top frame, you can make use of window frames.
In the space surrounded by the cinder blocks, ensure to add cardboard or black polythene to prevent grass and weed from growing.
27. Hinged-Top Cold Frame
If the goal is to extend and enjoy your vegetables and flowering plants for a little bit longer, this is a perfect DIY cold frame project. It is a simple project that can be built in a single weekend.
This cold frame by the Shops Smith Handson blog has glass panes on the sides and top. In place of glass, you can decide to use any other affordable material including clear plastic material.
When using wood, choose a type of wood that is weather resistant including Western red cedar. The bog tutorial guides you through the project with ease.
28. DIY Brick Cold Frame
This is the perfect cold frame for those who are looking to have a permanent setup to serve them in the foreseeable future. Needless to say, this project has two parts.
There is the Mason project bit and the woodworking project bit. You need a little bit of both to succeed in the project. According to My Tiny Plot blog tutorial, the frame is glazed. Perspex was used.
Also worth noting is that the glazing runs to the edge of the frame and not in the middle of the frame. This is so as to keep the frame from rotting. Building the frame is easy and simply a walk in the park.
29. Weekend DIY Cold Frame
This weekend, take your gardening to the next level. Build this simple cold frame project by the Mother Earth News and save lots of money in the process.
Though small and compact, you can use the basics outlined in the blog tutorial to build a larger cold frame to meet your needs.
The blog tutorial features labeled perspective diagram for better guidance. Included in the blog tutorial are a cutting list, materials, and tools list.
With the dimensions and the parts, you need not have a set of step-by-step instructions to guide you through it.
30. DIY Wooden Cold Frame
If you use the right plans, building a great cold frame is easy. Being a basic project, it does not require an insane investment. But regardless, a single cold frame (average size) has the potential to supply a family with sufficient vegetables.
When using this cold frame by My Outdoor plans, you will need to ventilate or open the lid to keep the plants from being scorched. If constantly ventilating the cold frame proves to be a difficult process, it is best you automate the process by the automatic lid opener.
Overall, it will take a day to build the unit.
31. Clean-Cut Professional Cold Frame
A professional look is great. With a DIY cold frame, you can grow your vegetables in the winter season. This allows you to feast on your fresh produce all year long without having to spend a fortune.
This cold frame is environmentally friendly given that it does not use any fossil fuel. The blog tutorial by Martha Stewart details all the steps necessary for building the project successfully.
The cold frame construction is simple, clean and professional. Friends and family will without a doubt enquire of where you got the cold frame from.
32. DIY Hay Bales Cold Frame
The frame for this cold frame project is simple. It is made from hay bales. To make the sides of the cold frame, all you need are four hay bales.
Cover the resulting square space between these hay bales with plastic or glass covers. If you cannot get your hands on hay bales, try cinder blocks – they work just as well.
Working with cinder blocks though, you should remember to have the holes pointing up otherwise the cold frame will let air pass through and beat the point of building a cold frame to begin with.
For insulation, you and dig a small pit in your cold frame. Dig about 8-inches into the ground. The resulting soil level will provide your plants with ample insulation for your plants during the cold winter days.
To successfully build the project, follow the tutorial outlined on the Rodale's Organic Life blog.
33. DIY Inexpensive Cold Frame
Truth be told, the reason you are probably looking into a DIY cold frame project is because of its inexpensive nature.
Well, if this is your motivation, coupled with some creativeness and uniqueness, this cold frame you can build for almost $0 is perfect for you.
The beauty of this DIY project is that cold frames are easy to build even for a DIYer who only has basic skills. For this project, you can use upcycled pallets or scrap wood.
Building the top may be a tricky process. You might have to seek professional help for this. But this is nothing you cannot learn on your own given some time.
Last but not least, the cold frame built by the Allotment Garden blog tutorial features insulation made of polystyrene or wallpaper roll on its inside. This allows for the unit to retain heat better during winter.
34. Raised Garden Bed Cold Frame with Supports
Construct 101 provides a blog tutorial and a PDF tutorial detailing the process of building a raised bed cold frame with low supports.
The tutorial shares labeled perspective diagrams to guide you in building a replica of the cold frame.
The PDF tutorial features all you may need to help an individual, even a beginner build the cold frame with utmost finesse and skill. If need be, you can make adjustments to the measurements provided in the tutorial.
35. DIY Glass-Framed Cold Frame Plan
The beauty of cold frames is the fact that they are simple to build and highly effective in prolonging gardening seasons. The cold frames are designed to protect plants from excessively low temperatures, snow, wind, and the rain.
They provide a microclimate inside that is slightly warmer than the immediate environment. This particular cold frame by the Vegetable Gardener blog features glass tops which give it a beautiful look.
In the cold frame, you can grow salads including spinach and lettuce. Only grow vegetables that can withstand or tolerate a fair amount of cold. The kind of vegetables rated chilling-resistant.
36. Easy Store Cold Frame
If you find yourself wishing you had a way of extending your growing season try cold frames.
If you, however, do not have enough room for these cold frames, you need a custom design unit. For this, the Organic Lawn DIY blog has got you covered.
This blog tutorial presents you with a cold frame that can be disassembled for storage purposes. It saves space when not in use. The cold frame measures 48x48 inches and can hold a total of 8 standard sized 1020 trays.
When in storage the cold frame takes up about 20x60 inches of space. The blog tutorial provides a material and tools list along with images to help understand the project better.
37. Beautiful Brick and Upcycled Window Cold Frame
Beauty is everything in a garden. Aside from growing flowers and plants, most gardeners also want to maintain a beautiful garden. If this is you, then this is the cold frame for you.
Given the combination of materials used (brick and wooden windows), you have to have some basics in masonry as well as woodworking. It might sound challenging but it is a fairly easy project.
With some bit of dedication and time, you will nail it and enjoy fresh greens in February. The Natural Living Ideas offer great insight on benefits of getting a DIY cold frame.
38. Simple Plastic Tunnel Cold Frame
This cold frame is large, effective and highly portable. You can disassemble the entire unit and move it to a new location and complete your set up in 15 minutes.
The cover held up by rib pipes can be opened and closed as you please. The Door Garden tutorial shares all materials, tools, and knowledge you may need to hack the project.
With the right tools and materials, you will be done in a few hours.
39. DIY Square 48x48-inch Cold Frames
This square cold frame by Our Happy Acres measures 8 inches tall. This is enough height to accommodate Asian greens, spinach, lettuce, endive, kohlrabi, and endive. It is also enough to accommodate young cabbage.
The blog tutorial gives enough details to allow any individual with some basic carpentry skills to make relevant adjustments to meet his/her needs.
The unit has handles on the sides to make it easier to move around.
40. DIY Treated Fence Pailings Cold Frame
I love the fact that this cold frame is simple and can be built in a weekend. But more to this, I love that the design features a slanted top.
The slanted top avails different heights thus allowing you to plant different plants from spinach to lettuce to cabbages. You can have a variety of vegetables in this cold frame.
The Resene blog PDF tutorial guides you through the project and provides images for the same each step.
41. Traditional 48x96-inch Cold Frame
Regardless of the design, the basics of a cold frame remain. It must have a transparent top, strong sides, and insulation. The cold frame by Networx blog adheres to these basic rules.
Like others we have listed before, it has two parts, the sides, and the light. For the light, an old storm window will work just fine. But if not, fiberglass, plastic or glass will do.
You can vary the height and the width of the cold frame as you please as you follow the tutorial.
42. DIY Miniature Plywood Cold Frame
If you are like most gardeners and your hands itch to get in the ground and plant something even before the snow has melted and ground softened, you should get yourself a cold frame.
This particular cold frame is simple and small. It is made from plywood and takes less than an hour to assemble. It does not need a professional to put together.
The cold frame comes with handles on its sides to facilitate portability. The Menards blog tutorial shows how easy it is.
43. Butterfly Light Cold Frame
The name of this cold frame refers to the way in which the side lids open up. They swing upwards mimicking a butterfly.
The lid design is efficient and allows for easy access to both sides of the cold frame. To build the cold frame, follow the simple tutorials by the Garden Plans Free blog tutorial.
44. Rectangular Raised Bed Cold Frame
Designing a custom cold frame ensure all your needs are met. In addition, you get to source for your own materials and control the creativity and quality of the cold frame.
This cold frame by the Raices Cultural Center blog provides ample height space for plants to grow. 2x4 lumber, plexiglass, caulk and caulking gun and screws are needed for the project.
The step-by-step instructions detailed make the project easier to hack.
So if you want to have a fresh supply of vegetables come January, you should build a cold frame. Try one of the above listed cold frame plans. Do feel free to share images of the final creation.
We love hearing from you. If you use a cold frame already, share how you built your own in the comment section below.