How to Make a Simple Cold Frame


A cold frame is similar to a small greenhouse. Gardeners use cold frames to harden off seedlings for spring planting. Building a cold frame will also extend your growing season. In some climates, a cold frame can make it possible to grow vegetables year-round. Cold frames can keep plants up to 10 degrees warmer than outside air. Cold frames can be constructed from a variety of materials to suit the needs of almost every gardener.

Things You'll Need

  • 2-by-2 cedar boards
  • Plastic or vinyl sheeting
  • 3-inch corner brackets
  • Staples
  • Plywood
  • Screws
  • 5-inch T-hinges, 3
  • Paint or stain
  • Paint brushes
  • Lay the two, 4-foot boards horizontally on work surface. Lay the three, 3-foot boards vertical, two on the sides and one in the center. Connect using 3-inch corner brackets and screws, on all four corners. Use screws to attach the center piece to the main frame. Staple plastic sheeting or vinyl to the frame.

  • Cut two pieces that form the sides. With a 3-by-3 piece of plywood, measure 18 inches up on one side. Mark location, snap a chalk line from the 3-foot side to the 18-inch mark on the other side. Cut the piece along the angle. Repeat for second side. For the back of the cold frame, cut a piece of plywood 4 feet wide by 3 feet tall. For the front, cut a piece of plywood 18 inches tall by 4 feet wide. Attach the angled sides to the front and back of the frame with screws.

  • Using screws, attach three 5-inch T-hinges to back of frame and the lid.

  • Paint or stain plywood for a neat finish. Paint the interior white to help reflect sunlight onto growing plants.

Tips & Warnings

  • Prop-up lid during the daytime to prevent burning the vegetables.

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  • Photo Credit Traditional cold frame image by Shirley Hirst from screws image by Eldin Muratovic from brush in paint image by Vladislav Gajic from
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