How to Build a Brick Coldframe

My coldframe is finished and ready for some Winter action. Only five months late but hey one can’t have everything. I had hoped to be growing Melon in there this year but it just wasn’t done in time. Firstly, the brick base wasn’t built so Under Gardener took care of that. Then there was no frame on it, so we asked our builder to do that. And then it wasn’t angle-ground into a nice slopey-slope, so the same builder took care of that. And then it wasn’t weatherproofed, and so I took care of that. But now, well now it’s finished. Hmmm…now what can I put in there?

Here’s the work in progress shots:

Step One:

I based the design on the coldframes I saw at The Lost Gardens of Heligan. First, choose some nice bricks and start building. We had some handmade bricks left over from our garden redesign. Use a string line and a spirit level like proper builders do otherwise it will be wonky. We used ready-made motar. It was fine.

Make the back of your coldframe higher than the front. Not too steep, just one or two bricks higher. This is to let in as much light as possible.

Start making the frame for the top. It’s basically three window panes stuck together. We watched the builder do this. Pretty skilled work actually. I think it would be a good idea to get the pros in for this bit – like we did.

Then the frame is fixed to a baton that runs across the back wall of the coldframe. This acts as the lid and can be opened and closed. He also used an angle-grinder to make the brick sides of the coldframe completely flush. Don’t try this at home kids – eye protection at the ready!

The frame was then glazed – in our case with perspex since we’ve got a little un’. And maybe you can see in the photo the glazing ‘runs’ off the edge to let the water run off and avoid rotting the frame. All very neat.

So there you have it. How to build a Victorian-esque coldframe! All I have in there at the moment are some Strawberry plants and an ailing Chilli.

16 Responses to “How to Build a Brick Coldframe”

  1. Lizon 22 Oct 2009 at 8:17 am

    I have 3 cold frames pretty much like this lined up one next to the other alongside my greenhouse. The main difference is that I did not have the frame specifically made – I used 3 old wooden windows that I was given. Also, I have not got the frames permanently fixed to the bricks because when it gets warm in spring and summer and plants are bigger i find it useful to be able to lift the glass frames away totally – then the plants still have protection from wind but can get proper breathing space when the weather is hotter.

  2. mtpon 22 Oct 2009 at 8:45 am

    Cool Liz – if I had room I would have more coldframes. One for Melons, one for Cucumbers and one for seedlings.

  3. Beckyon 22 Oct 2009 at 10:31 am

    Beautiful!!! I’ve never seen a brick one. I might have to consider one in the future.

  4. Amandaon 22 Oct 2009 at 11:20 am

    That’s really neat. Just wondering if I can ask my husband to build me one!

  5. Woody Wilburyon 22 Oct 2009 at 7:06 pm


    I inherited the masonry of a huge coldframe when I took over my allotment. It’s still in good shape and is crying out for the glazing to go in it and make it usable again. Only two problems with it:

    It’s over 15 feet long so it’s an awful lot of glazing, but I shouldn’t complain about an embarassment of riches, and

    it’s got bindweed in it, so needs a lot of digging out.

    But it’ll be good when it’s done, hopefully ready for the spring.

  6. mtpon 24 Oct 2009 at 10:11 am

    Hi Woody – pespex is a good option. It’s as clear as glass and won’t break. I think it’s cheaper too.

  7. Dawn/LittleGreenFingerson 24 Oct 2009 at 11:13 am

    I love the look of this, but not entirely sure where I’d put it – or how I would stop my two boys breaking it with footballs within a week. I shall keep pondering on this…

  8. Leaf Bloweron 26 Oct 2009 at 12:18 pm

    What a good idea!

    Perfect use for those old windows every garden seems to have lying around.

    Will be interesting to see how it pans out. Good luck!

  9. lilymarleneon 26 Oct 2009 at 2:50 pm

    That is a work of art….and will last 100 yrs plus! Well done!

  10. 2AcreFarmon 28 Oct 2009 at 6:55 pm

    What a great article. Love the photo illustrations! I am currently trying to work out a overgrown super long cold frame to grow spinach, lettuce, and kale in through winter.


  11. grannyon 04 Nov 2009 at 5:24 am

    Ive just added this to my To-Do list!!(or should I say,Pa’s To-Do list) lol.Your little garden is looking wonderful :0)

  12. tinaon 22 Dec 2010 at 4:13 pm

    A work of art and functional too! Happy Holidays to you!

  13. Garden Lightson 02 Jun 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Awesome. Winter is already on its way and this would be the perfect one to build one in my garden. What a great post this one is? Splendid work. Cheers!

  14. RattanFurnitureon 06 Jun 2011 at 12:19 pm

    A brick cold frame that sounds wonderful. I had one a couple of months back on my garden which is happened to be removed when we redid the garden. I think its time to get a new one. Very helpful information. Cheers.

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  16. Hotel Deskon 23 Oct 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Great, simple design – we’re looking to start a small-holding in the next couple of years and I had been looking for an old Victorian type design for some cold frames. You’ve made it look really simple (even with the builders extra help!). Thanks for posting.