DIY Cold Frames

Written by andrea stein
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DIY Cold Frames
Cold frames allow gardeners to better control the temperature of their raised gardens. (Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Cold frames are raised garden beds that use transparent lids that can be lowered or raised to control the heat reaching the bed. Cold frames offer gardeners an effective way to adjust the temperature of a garden bed, offering them greater control over plant growth. Building your own cold frame using untreated wooden boards may sound challenging, but with some careful planning, the process should go smoothly. Follow these steps to build DIY cold frames.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Untreated lumber boards
  • Wooden stakes
  • Handsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Old windows
  • Hinge kit
  • Drill
  • Galvanised screws
  • Mallet

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Instructions

    Making the Cold Frames

  1. 1

    Choose a spot to install your cold frame, preferably with southern exposure. Determine the dimensions of the cold frame, depending upon your gardening needs. The height of the cold frame should be at least 8 inches and the width should be at least 6 inches.

  2. 2

    Use a measuring tape to measure and mark one top end, one bottom end and two sides of the wood for the cold frame. Cut the boards at the mark lines with a handsaw. Use sandpaper to sand down any rough edges for safe handling. Drill in galvanised screws to fasten the side boards of the cold frame to the end boards.

  3. 3

    Using the measuring tape, find the centre of each end of the cold frame and make a mark at the edge of the wood. Use a mallet to pound wooden stakes into the soil on each side of the cold frame at the halfway point. The wooden stakes reinforce the sides of the cold frame to keep them from bending out due to the weight of the soil.

  4. 4

    Take the measurements of your cold frame with you when you start hunting for old windows. Check kerbsides for discarded windows or check with a window contractor for cheap, used windows. Measure the window frame to ensure the dimensions will fit the cold frame.

  5. 5

    Use a measuring tape to mark the centre of the top side of the window. Then, measure and mark the centre of the top side of the cold frame. Open your hinge packaging and check for four screws. Drill a hole at the mark in the window, using an appropriately sized drill bit based on the size of the screw, and another hole at the mark in the cold frame. Align the hinge holes with the holes drilled into the window and cold frame and drill in the screws to attach the hinge. Drill in two more screws in the remaining two holes of the hinge. Fill the cold frame with soil and seeds or the plants of your choice.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep the lid of the cold frame open on warm days to promote better air circulation for your plants.
  • Always use safety gloves to prevent injury when working with wood and hand tools.

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