5 Benefits of Using Cold Frames In Your Garden

Every year we strive to have the best most productive garden we can have in the season we have to grow it in. One way to get the most out of the growing season is through the use of cold frames.

photo of cold frame

What Is A Cold Frame?

A cold frame is an enclosure built close to the ground with a transparent top made of either glass or plastic. The cold frame protects plants from the elements while allowing sunlight to enter. It’s basically a small greenhouse.

5 Benefits Of Using Cold Frames

1. Growing Season Extension

Cold frames create a microclimate that can extend the growing season weeks to months for some plants. Depending on the design, insulation, and hardiness of the plants, harvests well into winter are possible with cold frames.

photo of cold frame

2. Protection Against Early and Late Frosts

Many plants are tender and can’t survive a frost, especially in the seedling stage. Cold frames can be a safe place to keeps seedlings in trays or pots during those weeks of possible late frosts.

Plants that are sensitive to frost even into maturity can be kept in cold frames all season long and grown longer as they are protected from early fall frosts.

3. Protections From Inclement or Damaging Weather

Cold frames can protect plants against high winds, heavy rains, and hail during storms. Crops that would normally be lost during these events can survive to provide for you when cold frames are used.

4. Provide A Possible Option For Seed Sowing and Germination

If a greenhouse isn’t available and the kitchen table at the window isn’t a great option (all gardeners do it), then a cold frame can be a good option for germinating seeds.

The direct sunlight can heat up the soil very well assisting in the early germination and getting a jump on the growing season. All while not worrying about a frost killing your plants.

If the nights are still really cold, however, you may still have to wait a little longer but still be ahead of planting directly in the garden.

photo of brick cold frame

5. Can Assist in Hardening Off Seedlings For Transplant

Hardening off seedlings can be a tricky task for most gardeners. I can’t tell you the number of times I forget to bring my plants inside at night only to find them dead the next morning. A cold frame can save you the trouble of carrying trays of seedlings in and out day after day if the weather is moderate.

How To Build A Cold Frame

A cold frame can be as complex or as simple as you want to make it. The design though is simple, four sides elevated higher than the height of the plants and a transparent glass or plastic top.

The sides can be built from wood or blocks or even something like straw bales can work. The top can be old windows, a storm door, or plastic sheeting. Literally, anything the sunlight can get through will work. You can build a top with hinges or just tilt it up on hot days.

If building isn’t your thing, there are store-bought cold frames you can purchase that will do the job. They are probably not as sturdy as ones built from heavier-duty materials but with proper care, they can last a long time.

Giantex Garden Portable Wooden Green House Cold Frame Raised Plants Bed Protection (39.5"X25"X15")
  • Beautify Green Spaces and Large Capacity-- Big storage capacity for various...
  • Foldable Top-- The top part of this product could be open and close, and two...
  • Solid Structure--Structured with heavy-duty wood for extended durability, and...

Last update on 2024-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Any way you choose to build your cold frame, they can provide many benefits for your garden if used correctly. Just remember that if you don’t prop the top open on hot days it can cook your plants, especially seedlings. Cold frames won’t solve all the possible issues with your garden but can certainly help.