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Extend the Season: DIY Cold Frame

Home Depot
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Difficulty: Advanced
Duration: 2-4 hours


DIY cold frame

A cold frame helps protect your plants when harsh temperatures may harm them. Simply a box with a transparent cover, a cold frame collects heat to keep your plants warm and shields them from the elements throughout the winter or summer seasons.

During warmer months, a cold frame provides an ideal environment to move seedlings outdoors or to grow a crop of fresh greens.

Making this simple box is an easy, handy project that will keep your plants warm and happy all year long.

cut list for the wood:

  • Four 2 x 6 x 27-inch boards
  • Four 2 x 6 x 36-inch boards
  • Four 4 x 4 x 11-inch boards
  • Four 1 x 3 x 36-inch boards
  • Four 1 x 3 x 25 ½-inch boards

Remember: Measure twice, cut once.


Cold frame

Tools and Materials:


Step 1 DIY cold frame

STEP 1 – Build two sides

  • Lay two 4 x 4-inch pieces 19 inches apart. 
  • Lay two 2 x 6 x 27-inch pieces on top of the 4 x 4 pieces so that the ends of the 2 x 6 pieces are flush with the sides of the 4 x 4 pieces. 
  • Drill two 7/64-inch pilot holes and secure with 2 ½-inch deck screws on each end of the 2 x 6-inch pieces into the 4 x 4-inch pieces to create a side. 
  • Repeat step one to make another side of the frame.


Cold frame

STEP 2 – Build the other two sides.

  • Space the two sides you built 36 inches apart.
  • Stack two pieces of 2 x 6 x 36-inch boards upright against the two sides creating the third side of the box. Corners should be at a 90 degree-angle.
  • Drill pilot holes and secure with two screws through the 2 x 6-inch pieces into the 4 x 4-inch pieces.
  • Repeat step two to complete the fourth side of the box and creating a rectangle.


DIY cold frame

STEP 3 – Build the top.

  • With this step you will be creating a double framed window.
  • Using the 30 x 36-inch acrylic sheet, place 1 x 3 x 36-inch pieces on the top and underside of the 36-inch length ends of the acrylic, creating the top and bottom. All edges should be flush with one another.
  • Clamp to hold in place.
  • Place a 1 x 3 x 25 ½-inch piece on the top and underside of the shorter sides of the acrylic sheet. You should have a 90-degree rectangle frame on the top and bottom of the acrylic, like a sandwich.
  • Clamp to hold in place.
  • Drill four evenly spaced pilot holes through the 36-inch underside wood pieces and acrylic and into the top pieces of wood.
  • Drill three evenly spaced pilot holes through the underside 25 ½-inch pieces of wood and acrylic and into the top piece of wood. Do not go through the top piece of wood.
  • Secure with 1 1/4-inch stainless steel deck screws.


DIY cold frame

STEP 4 – Prepare the area and place the frame.

  • Place your cold frame in a location where it will get at least six hours of sun per day and outline the area.
  • Remove the frame and dig six inches deep to keep the soil warmer during cold months.
  • Set the frame back in the hole.


DIY cold frameSTEP 5 – Attach the top.

  • Use three hinges to attach the top to the frame.
  • Mark the holes of the hinges and drill pilot holes for the screws.
  • Secure the hinges with the supplied screws.
  • Attach a handle for easy lifting.


DIY cold frameSTEP 6 – Grow vegetables and plants.

  • Mix in potting soil and plant your favorite vegetables. You can also put flats of plants directly onto the soil.


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