Garden shades for plants

Weekend DIY project: Shield your garden from this blistering heat

Is your garden shriveling in this blistering heat?

Ours too.

We’re barely into August, which means there are still weeks if not months of searing heat ahead of us, and our tomato plants can’t take much more.

The easiest answer — move plants so they miss the sun’s burning rays during the hottest part of the day — is not always possible. (Especially if you have a day job.)


But there are still plenty of ways to protect your plants where they stand.

Look around your home and garage. You probably have a few items that you can jury-rig into a shield. An old pallet, for example, or a stretch of discarded latticework can be propped up to lend a bit of shade. And an old bed sheet or window screen can be fastened to wooden stakes to create a temporary sunscreen. Just be sure to keep the cloth several inches from the plant, so it doesn’t retain heat.

For something a bit more visually appealing (and costly), you could string up sailcloth or some other type of shade fabric.

But our favorite advice came from Salt Lake City gardener Margaret Park, author of “More Food From Small Spaces.”


She suggests using 3/4-inch PVC piping — the kind you can find at most hardware stores — to create a portable frame that can be perfectly tailored for your garden’s needs. Build it around your plant bed, and then drape it with shade cloth and secure it with clips.

“It reminds me of playing with Tinker Toys,” Park said.

We priced out what it would cost to build a 3-by-6-by-6-foot frame, including three-way elbow connectors for the corners and T connectors for the middle, and figured that you could do this for about $35, max. (Pro tip: Try to find a store that will cut the piping for your desired measurements, otherwise you will need a hacksaw or a PVC cutter and some elbow grease.)

Park also recommends T connectors every 3 feet to keep the pipes from sagging. You can go online to watch a video of Park showing off her DIY frame. Here’s a video of Park showing off her D.I.Y. frame.

If you have a clever ways to protect your plants over the next few weeks of heat, tweet us a picture at @LATimeshome


Step inside the glitzy, glamorous Tom Dixon flagship store in Culver City


Raise a glass! Levitating cups are a thing.

Go beyond cactus: 8 drought-tolerant plants that can handle summer’s blistering heat

A Do-It-Yourself Greenhouse Shade Cloth

A year ago last February, when my husband and I began the construction of our attached solar greenhouse, we looked upon our future structure as a means of helping us heat our old Missouri farmhouse and as a permanent home for my numerous houseplants. We never suspected at the time that, come summer, it would turn into an attached solar oven! When it did, we tried every means of temperature control we could think of, until we finally hit upon making a greenhouse shade cloth.

During the winter, we sent off for the 12-mil woven polyethylene we needed to make the walls of our solar structure. When the package arrived, we found in it a note from the distributor that warned us to be careful to vent our greenhouse properly, so that the space wouldn’t overheat during the summer months, shortening both the life of the poly and of whatever plants were inside.

Heeding this good advice, we installed a high vent on the west side and a low one on the east, so our region’s prevailing easterly winds would blow cool air in and hot air out. We also added a sliding glass door, and installed a wind-driven turbo vent (which my daughters gave me for Mother’s Day) in the roof. With all these precautions taken, my husband and I felt that surely our greenhouse was ready for summer. And, since we’d completed the whole project in early spring (while the weather was still chilly), we had a chance to sit back and enjoy the heating benefits of our sun room. Indeed, the addition did help our house stay comfortably cozy, and my plants thrived in the sunlight that flooded in.

Attempts at Greenhouse Temperature Control

However, as summer approached and the temperature outside began to rise, the thermometer reading inside our greenhouse started to soar. When it reached a sticky 100°F (before mid-June!), we knew we had a problem, and that we’d better do something about our overheating system quickly, before summer really arrived!


Getting right to work, my husband removed the door leading from the greenhouse into our hand-dug cellar and placed a squirrel cage blower on the basement steps. Our hope was that the fan would pull cool air up from under the house, sending it circulating through the plant space and freshening the area. Sure enough, this plan worked, for a while. But as soon as hotter weather hit, the interior temperature in our greenhouse zoomed up to a sweltering 110°F, and my already-wilting plants began to burn.

Our next attempt to better ventilate our solar “sauna” was to roll back a 2′ × 5′ section of the plastic siding and replace it with nylon netting. That way, we thought, the fan-driven air would be able to move about even more freely. But—once again—though the arrangement worked fine at first, within a matter of days (all with an abundance of sunshine), the greenhouse became unbearable. Finally, when the temperature rose to a fern-frying 120°F in our solar heater, my husband and I decided it was time to admit defeat and transfer my plants outdoors for the rest of the summer.

Sun Protection with a Greenhouse Shade Cloth

Surprisingly enough, the very afternoon I’d resigned myself to hauling out my fainting flora, things took a turn for the better, when I noticed my husband busily coating the legs of an old park bench with a can of aluminum spray paint and using a leftover piece of the polyethylene as a drop cloth. Lying there shining in the sunlight, that silver coated plastic looked like the reflective material used by sunbathers and arctic campers. Suddenly, I realized that the answer to our overheating problem was right there in front of us. All we had to do was tack that sun-repellent plastic onto the top of our greenhouse!

No sooner did I mention this idea to my husband than he was off to find a fresh roll of 10′ × 50′ 4-mil poly, which he cut to size to allow for a 12″ overhang, and securely tacked to the roof of our solar addition. Then he sprayed it thoroughly with the best-quality aluminum paint he could locate. And less than an hour after our reflective roof was finished, the temperature inside the greenhouse plunged from a sizzling 100°F down to a comfortable 80°F. At last, our plants and polyethylene were saved!

Save Money with a DIY Greenhouse Sun Shade

Since creating our sun shield, my spouse and I have checked into commercially manufactured ray-reflecting materials for greenhouses, and—I’m pleased to relate—our homemade shade is much less expensive than almost anything you could buy ready-made. In other words, our simple solution to the summertime solar blues was a money saver, to boot!

Flowers and vegetables obviously need the sun to grow, but in the middle of summer, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. The most common mistake that new gardeners make is to fail to consider; what sun protection do I need for my plants?

After all, too much sun is one of the most common causes of failed vegetable and flower gardens.

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How To Provide Sun Protection For Plants

It is actually simple science. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants turn sunlight into energy. Add a little water and some nutrients from the soil, and you get growth.

However, very high levels of UV rays and the heat they generate are definitely hazardous to almost all plants. Too much sun overwhelms the delicate membranes that allow for photosynthesis within the leaves of the plant. Initially, it just slows growth. Over a very short period of time, the membranes break down…

and eventually, it kills the plant.

One other thing to consider is the sun’s effect on the soil. After all, it is the plant’s home and source of water and nutrients. Several days of 95-degree sunny weather does two things to soil; it robs it of water, and heats it up. No plants react well to a lack of water, but people often forget that many vegetable and flowers react badly to rapid rises in temperature. They can handle a few days without slowing growth, but sustained high soil temperatures can really harm vegetable yields and the number of flowers you will get from your plants.

In short, protecting plants from the sun doesn’t only mean covering the plant itself.

If you aren’t sure how much sun is too much for your vegetable garden, See this great guide by Sympathink.

Options for Protecting your Plants from the Sun

Now that we’ve established that you don’t want to spend the spring and summer working on a garden that the sun kills, the next question is how to practically protect your plants.

In general, you have three options: buy it, build it, or grow it.

Grow Natural Sun Protection

In nature, many sun sensitive plants flourish by hiding under other plants. You can do the same thing in your garden.

Protecting your plants from the sun doesn’t have to cost a lot in this way, but you’ll need to do some research. For example, sunflowers and corn grow high to the sun.

Laying out your garden in such a way as to use them as sun shields make sense.

Most people take a few years of experience in order to do this right.

Build It DIY Sun Protection for Plants

The simplest ways can often be as effective as the most expensive ones. Simply placing cheesecloth directly over your garden during long hot stretches makes a difference. It won’t hurt the plants, the light color reflects the sunlight, and it covers the soil too.

Don’t use it directly on seedlings. For those, a plastic laundry basket, turned upside down, blocks the sun all around these fragile starters, covers the soil, and can even foil all but the most determined predators (especially if you stake it down).

If you have any kind of carpentry skill, you can spend very little and do a lean-to, build a box, or design to your heart’s content. Generally speaking, using small net screening with UV protection is best. The tighter, the better. The added benefit is that a good fit can also keep bugs out.

Buy Sun Protection

There are literally hundreds of products that you can use for sun protection, and it really depends on a combination of your budget and how your garden is situated.

Flowers tend to be the simplest. Many are in pots and small beds, meaning that you have relatively little space to cover. There are dozens of decorative umbrellas of various sizes that can be placed within a single pot or cover a small bed. Aim the garden parasol where the sun will be in the hottest part of the day (11 am to 2 pm on average).

Vegetable gardens are usually more complicated to cover given their size. A simple search online will reveal many dozens of options.

It’s easiest if you bought some kind of prefab container garden. They often have an option to purchase some type of shading apparatus, but most new gardeners don’t believe it’s worth the cost up front. It is.

More often, people have a patch of earth in the back yard. In that case, there are a handful of simple options. The most common is a plant tent. It literally looks like a portable screened in a tent that actually blocks the sun on the plant and surrounding soil.

There are also large adjustable screens on stands, large umbrellas, and everything in between.

Peppers and Tomatoes Love a Little Shade

Shade for a garden is a polarizing subject – it seems like we’ve either got too much or too little. Today we’re focusing on gardens that need some shelter – the ones with perpetual sun-scald on tomatoes and peppers or cilantro that bolts almost immediately after sprouting.

Shading a garden often seems overwhelming, especially if you live in the very sunny zones of the US, Canada, Australia, or in other bright parts of the world, but it shouldn’t be complicated or expensive. Today we focus on simple and easy methods for giving your garden some relief – exactly where and when it is needed.

Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers – both sweet and hot, eggplant, lettuce, spinach, along with herbs like cilantro, all benefit from a little shade, especially in the sunny, hotter afternoons of mid to late spring through late summer or even early fall.

Full sun in the early to late morning gives plants plenty of energy through photosynthesis without excess heat stress, allowing them to grow and produce to their full potential. Providing afternoon shelter relieves a lot of the heat buildup, lowering the amount of moisture lost through leaves and the need for extra water to keep the plant healthy. This allows the plant to spend its energy on growing delicious fruits and vegetables, not in transporting water from the soil just trying to stay alive. We talk more about this specifically for peppers in Grow Better Peppers with Shade.

Oak tree shade

Defining Shade

Now that you know why shade is beneficial for a sunny garden, what – exactly – is shade? Let’s look at the different types of shade through commonly used terms.

Deep Shade – there is no direct sunlight at all and only a small amount of reflected light, such as from the wall of a light-colored house, garage or fences. This would be under the canopy of several large, fully mature trees.

Light Shade – gets only one to two hours of direct sunlight a day, but has quite a bit of reflected light from nearby walls and fences. Most likely underneath large trees, but has either morning or afternoon sun reaching the ground.

Partial Shade – sees direct sunlight for two to six hours per day with dappled shade the rest of the day. This would be from less mature trees, a fewer number of trees close together or those without an extensive leaf structure.

Full Sun – receives at least six hours of sunlight per day but more likely eight to ten hours. This could be shorter or younger trees, wider spaced plantings, or species with smaller leaves and less shade structure, such as elms as compared to oaks.

Use this information as you plan on what varieties to plant where.

Morning vs Afternoon Shade

When do your plants need some shelter? Typically during the hottest parts of the day – afternoons – during the hottest parts of the year – May or June through August or September. The exceptions are the areas routinely above 110°F like Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and Palm Springs – they grow better with mid to late morning shading lasting all afternoon. For the rest of us, if our plants start seeing some shadows by about 1 pm, they are comfortable and produce nicely.

What this means is that permanent overhead shade structures are usually not needed. They can be a nice addition if part of the structure is over a picnic table or BBQ area next to your garden, but the garden doesn’t always need that much cover for that long.

The upside to temporary shade for part of the day is it can be removed for cool weather crops needing as much sun as possible to capture the warmth on the soil to grow earlier or later in the season.

East vs West Shade

Where is the best place for your shade? Most plants need some afternoon protection, meaning the shadows should come from the west side of your plants, or that you plant on the east side of the protection. Confused? Don’t be – think of it this way. As the sun moves to the west, it casts shadows to the east and that’s where you want your plants to be – in the shadows!

Achocha vine on west wall

In the photo above, the Achocha is growing on the west wall of this courtyard and has afternoon protection – this photo was taken about 11 am, with full morning sun. After about 1 pm, the shadows arrive and the area cools down, even though it reaches 100°F or more each afternoon during the summer. When we first tried growing it on the east wall, it received morning protection but was baked in the afternoon’s direct sun, struggling to grow and not producing any fruits. The fruit production exploded and it was much happier once we moved it!

Southern Shade

Beyond east/west shade, you might consider giving your garden protection to the south. Shading a section of your garden along the south fence with each row having its own screening on the west side gives more sensitive plants extra protection from the sun.

Wind moderation is another advantage of shading, as each successive row slows down the prevailing breeze, making the growing conditions more favorable. Plant hardier plants upwind and less wind tolerant ones downwind.

Commercial shade structure

Adding Shade to Your Garden

Giving your plants some much-needed sun shelter can be easier than you might think. Here are some examples to get you thinking about your garden and how it is set up.

High tunnel with shade cloth

Permanent structures

This is what everyone seems to think about first when talking about shading a garden. The commercial type shade structure, supported by big square steel poles with the whole garden shaded is one approach.

Another is simply planting in containers on the east side of your house or garage. This is exactly how our container garden is set up, starting right next to the east wall and stretching out for about 10 feet. It gets full morning sun and starts seeing shade in the early afternoon, and by the hottest part of the day it’s in light shade – no direct sun and only reflected light. We’ve grown cilantro in the container closest to the house almost all summer without it bolting.

Yet another is a chain-link fence with privacy strips woven into it, either 6 or 8 feet tall. Some houses already have these as a border fence and all you need to do is add the privacy weave. A tall wooden fence gives you built-in shading.

Cattle panel hoop house

Temporary structures

These are the most common types of non-living sun screen, easily put up and taken down as needed. One example is shade cloth zip-tied to the south fence of a garden, providing both shade and wind filtering. The amount of shade depends on the height of the fence.

Another is the T-post and shade cloth approach. 8-foot tall T-posts are pounded in on the west edge of the row or bed at 4 to 6-foot intervals, then shade cloth is zip-tied to them. This gives about a 7-foot tall shade wall, as the T-posts are driven in about a foot deep, giving a good shade and windbreak for vegetables. Removal is easy when fall approaches and the sun is needed all day.

Another example is a hoop house made from semi-rigid 20-foot long cattle panels arched over a bed or couple of rows and covered in shade cloth or clear plastic as needed. The plastic makes the hoop house into a large cold frame early in the season for lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and other cold-season greens, then is switched for shade cloth when tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are transplanted in early spring. The plastic is re-installed in the fall for another season of cold-season crops before winter.

Okra as living shade

Living structures

These can be either temporary – as in a wall of Russian sunflowers on the south fence, or more permanent – like a large trellis or hoop house made from cattle fencing panels as above and planted with a vining, leafy vegetable that crawls up and shades the entire area. The trellis is permanently installed, while the vines are replanted. A planting of okra along a fence, as the photo above shows.

Now it’s your turn

You’ve increased your knowledge and added another set of tools to your gardening toolbox, helping you be that much more successful this coming season! Use this article to plan where and when you need shade the most to boost your garden production and impress your family, friends, and neighbors.


It is an enjoyable experience to see how quickly your cut flowers/plants grow in Spring. The temperature is comfortable and the environment is friendly to your plants. As summer approaches and the temperature outside begins to rise, you start to water your plants more. But have you thought of putting “sun screen” on your plants!! —- Provide shade cloth to cover your plants as a shelter, this will save you water and energy as well as make your plants grow faster and be healthier.

What you need to do is know more about this “sun screen” and choose the right one to protect your plants from sunburn and other fatal factors under the fierce sun in summer.

Shade cloth was developed over 30 years ago to provide protection for plants from the harsh Australian climate. Shade-cloth is used in many different applications in the domestic, horticulture, commercial, industrial, sport, leisure and agriculture industries.

In summer, shade cloth could be used to cover your shade house skeleton or greenhouse glazing, to cool it down for your plants. Hobbyists, growers, nurseries, gardeners and farmers should protect their young plants from direct sunlight. Ideal for plants when they are establishing and then gradually hardening off, shade cloth is also used to shield pets, livestock and people from sun and wind.

What is shade cloth made of?

Shade cloth is usually made of loosely woven polyester or even aluminium and can be found in varying densities or degrees of shade from approximately 5% to 95%. All shade cloth is water permeable so that rainwater, sprinklers and irrigation systems can keep your plants hydrated.

What type of shade clothes are there in the market?

There are two types of the most common shade cloth: “knitted” and “woven”.

Knitted Shade Cloth Woven Shade Cloth
Made of lightweight polyethylene Made of 100% polypropylene

Suitable for a variety of applications, including:

  • Shade houses
  • Greenhouses
  • Hot houses
    Resists tears, fraying and un-ravelling
Suitable for a variety of applications, including:

  • Pet Kennels
  • Shading for patios
  • Wind screens
  • Privacy screens
  • Solar protection for plants
Open lockstitch design resists wind damage, and reduces heat build-up and wind speed inside structures Allows more heat build-up than knitted Shade cloth
Easy to install Heavier (Less easy to install)
UV resistant UV Stabilized to withstand the most extreme sun exposure
Edge taping not needed Edges must be taped to resist fraying, and will un-ravel if cut
Resists most horticultural chemicals and detergents
Longer life expectancy than woven shade cloth
Allow for 2-3% stretch or shrinkage Minimal stretch or shrinkage, less than knitted

As we can see from above, to protect your plants from extremely hot weather and make them grow healthily in hot summer, knitted shade cloth is a better choice due to its life expectancy, functionalities and easy installation.


Shade cloth is woven or knitted in different densities. We call the densities of Shade Cloth “Percentages”. The difference in percentage lets different amounts of sunlight to penetrate, which means that the percentage of shade cloth you choose, blocks out that percentage of the sun. Therefore, what you grow will help determine the percentage of shade cloth you need.

As we all know, sunlight is so crucial to a plants’ growth, so choose the right density and as low a density as you can get away with.

Usually a shade percentage of 30-50% is ideal for vegetables, while 80-90% is ideal for sheltering people. Most plants will do best with a maximum of 40% – 60% shade. However, when growing some shade loving plants such as orchids and some ferns, 75% or higher maybe needed to get correct light levels.

Examples of shade cloth percentage suitable to your plants

50% Shade cloth in Green Colour 75-80% Shade cloth in Green Colour

Suitable for:

• nursery stock
• cabbage
• peppers
• lettuce
• some Orchid varieties
• pot plants
• geraniums
• caladiums
• irises

Suitable for:

• orchids
• some ferns
• large olive trees
– Protection barriers on buildings
– Use as silt fencing
– Use as awnings
– Use as livestock shading
– Use as domestic shading

Plants that require partial shade Plants that enjoy dense shade

In Summary

If you cover your shade house with 50% or 75% shade cloth, all the way to the ground, a huge amount of heat load is dissipated by the cloth so it never gets into your shade house (try to mist or fog at regular intervals during extreme hot weather). Finally, know you will have a high return on your shade cloth investment by reduced energy costs and water costs. Talk about going green, talk about lowering your carbon footprint, shade cloth does it!

You put suncream on your body; why not use sunscreen for your plants?

—— “Life is a shade better under a tree or shade cloth.”

(PS Usually, shade cloth is an important component of Shade house, to know more about shade house, head over to here)

6 Easy Ways to Create Shade

Cool down! On a hot day, stepping into the shade can make a temperature difference of 10 to 15 degrees, or even more, depending on the surroundings. Let’s take a look at seven ways to create shade, ranging from a quick fix to a long-term plan.

A large umbrella casts cool shade over a table and chairs. Choose a neutral like this one, or add a punch of color with a bright umbrella.

1. Open an Umbrella

An umbrella is the fastest shade fix around. Wood-frame umbrellas usually open with a rope and pulley system. Metal-frame umbrellas are more likely to have “extra” features, such as a tilting head. Look for an umbrella with the wind vents you see at the top of the one in the photo — the vents allow hot air to escape, instead of building up underneath, and they also make it less likely that the umbrella will blow away or be damaged by a strong gust of wind. As the sun moves across the sky, it’ll change the shade pattern of your umbrella. You may find you need a larger umbrella than you’d imagine to keep your seating area shaded. A good rule of thumb is that the umbrella should be 5 feet wider than the area to be shaded. (In other words, a 9-ft. umbrella is perfect for a 4-ft. table.)

Most canopy gazebos come with an anchoring system that uses either concrete screws or guy wires. Make sure that any anchors are positioned out of the path of traffic so they don’t present a tripping hazard.

Canopy gazebos offer great opportunities to hang hanging baskets, string lights and chandeliers — all to make it more inviting.

2. Put Up a Canopy Gazebo

A canvas or canopy gazebo is a weekend-quick solution to too much sun. Some are really easy — the simplest ones have folding or telescoping legs and often come with a carrying case. They’re meant to put up in minutes, then come down when you’re finished. Larger, more elaborate ones are often treated as a semi-permanent solution. (Lose a shade tree? This can replace the miss-ing shade.) Most gardeners store the fabric top indoors over the winter. See also Are Timber Cabins Energy Efficient?

Although wisteria will cover your pergola quickly, it may take several years for it to bloom. And make sure your pergola is sturdy — those woody vines can crush lightweight lattice.

3. Cover a Pergola With Vines

A little work building a pergola leads to big payoffs! These classic structures are simple: vertical supports plus a frame over the top for shade. The size and style is up to you — simple cedar posts or logs give a casual look, while metal, stone or brick construction is more elegant. You can make your own, or purchase a kit. Before you build, think carefully about the size of your pergola. It’s a good idea to make it a little bigger than you think you’ll need. You won’t enjoy your pergola to the fullest if it isn’t big enough to keep your whole seating area shaded. Test the size with tall bamboo stakes — stick them in the ground where you want the corners of the pergola. Then arrange your outdoor furniture in the area. See where the stakes cast shade during the day to determine if your furniture will be completely shaded. Move the stakes until you nd a comfortable fit.

Draped over a pergola, vines add extra shade and help soften the hard lines of the structure. Depending on your choice of plants, they can also add colorful owers and fragrance — the wisteria spilling over the pergola at left will scent the entire yard. You can get different looks with vines, too, from classic wisteria or clematis to fast-growing annual vines that’ll cover a pergola in a summer.

Although you can use any fabric for overhead shade, you’ll get the best results from a fabric made for this purpose (a popular brand is Coolaroo). Shade cloth stands up to wind better than ordinary fabric, and you can choose a specific amount of light ltering, too.

Keep any sort of shade fabric well clear of the grill to prevent fire hazards.

4. Add Fabric Overhead

For a more contemporary garden look, fabric is a fast, flexible solution. You can drape fabric over a simple pergola yourself, or use a retractable pergola canopy like the one at right. Or check out shade sails — squares or triangles of fabric stretched between supports to create layers of shade. When you’re choosing fabric for overhead shade, look for features like reinforced grommets — the only drawback to fabric is that it catches the wind and may tear if it isn’t properly anchored. See also How a Couple Finally Built Their Dream Cabin

When you’re choosing a shade tree, check the tag to see how big the mature tree will be. Then make sure you plant it far enough from your house or structure. You want the mature tree to arch over the seating area for shade, but you don’t want to have to spend a lot of time pruning branches away from the house.

Keep limbs trimmed up so that they’re at least 10 ft. above the fire pit for safety.

5. Choose the Right Tree

Planting a tree for shade won’t give you the instant gratification that an umbrella or a structure will, but it’s still a good idea. (You can enjoy other shade options, like the pergola in the photo, while you wait for the tree to grow.)

Sitting a shade tree on the southwest corner of a house or seating area will ensure that you get shade during the hottest part of the day. But if you use your seating area in the morning, you may want a tree to the east too.

The tree you plant will depend on your needs. Some trees, like maples or oaks, cast dense shade while others, such as birches or honeylocusts, offer lighter shade. For a small seating area, a small ornamental tree may offer plenty of shelter, but for a larger area, you may need a full-size shade tree or several smaller trees around the perimeter. Below, you’ll see four trees that grow quickly enough to offer shade in a few years, without dropping many messy leaves or twigs.

When you’re choosing a shade tree, check the tag to see how big the mature tree will be. Then make sure you plant it far enough from your house or structure. You want the mature tree to arch over the seating area for shade, but you don’t want to have to spend a lot of time pruning branches away from the house.

See more Tips and Tricks When Power Washing

Before you go to a lot of work hanging curtains or blinds, make sure they’re right where you want them. Sit in your chairs at different times of day and use sheets or even rolls of craft paper to test your curtain placement to be certain they’ll block the most annoying rays of light.

6. Cue the Curtains

What about a little serving of shade on the side? We usually concentrate on overhead shade. But creating shade at the sides of your seating area is just as important, especially on the east and west sides. Many gardeners enjoy their gardens most in the morning or late in the day — both times when low rays of sun get in your eyes or scorch the back of your neck.

If you have a gazebo, porch or pergola, just add curtains. Roll-up blinds are another solution if you have a structure to mount them on. These are often made of split bamboo, for a touch of tropical air in any garden.

If you don’t have an overhead structure to hang shades from, think from the ground up! Garden screens, either purchased or custom-made, can block light. You’ll find everything from fabric-covered screens to simple lattice screens that can support a colorful climbing vine for extra shade.

Shrubs are another ground-up solution. Large shrubs, like lilacs or viburnums, could even shade most of a small patio — and many shrubs offer fragrant flowers, too, which will be a bonus near a seating area. Most shrubs grow more quickly than trees, so your patio- or deck-side garden will look established soon.

Don’t let blazing-hot sun keep you from enjoying your outdoor seating area. Make sure it has a bit of inviting shade and you’ll be a lot more comfortable in your garden.

7 Ways to Add Shade to Your Backyard

As spring approaches, many of us look forward to spending more time outdoors with backyard barbecues, outdoor games, and leisurely reading. The warmer the weather, the more meals spent outside with family and friends and hours spent tending to flourishing gardens. But then summertime comes around and brings intense exposure to heat and UV rays that are far too easy to overdose on.

If you are looking for ways to provide a bit more shade from the sun, you are not alone. Here are our top seven suggestions for adding shade to your backyard and keeping you and your family protected from those dangerous rays.

1. Pergola

While it might seem intimidating, building a pergola is actually a fairly simple solution for adding shade. The key is to make sure that the main posts are either placed in cement or otherwise safely and firmly secured in the ground so that they can withstand whatever extreme weather conditions your area might experience. From there, you can get creative and just have one widely space row of boards across the top, or you can have two layers of boards across the top, placed closely together to offer more protection from the hot sun.

2. Fast-Growing Bushes and Trees

It is easy to think of trees as a source of shade for your yard, but you may not realize that you can have that shade ready to use much sooner than you think. Many nurseries and garden centers sell trees at an already impressive size, small enough so that you can easily plant yourself, but large enough that it will allow you to enjoy shade within the first year it is planted. In fact, many trees—such as Dawn Redwood, Cottonwood, and Red Maple—grow 1-2 feet per year, so you can make the most of that shade without the long wait.

Just be sure to do your homework on the climate in your area as well as the space you want to plant in before you make a commitment, as some trees can grow to pretty impressive heights and widths. Your local garden center can be especially helpful in this area if you feel more comfortable getting your information from an expert in your particular climate.

3. Retractable Canopy

While there are many varieties on the market for sale, it has become quite popular to DIY a retractable canopy in your own back yard. There are endless options for fabric, style, and track design to suit your individual space, but most include the same basic details: thick, sturdy wire cable or a simple track system; outdoor fabric; and sturdy hooks to hang the fabric. This is a fun way to add a bit of personality to your space by choosing a colorful or patterned fabric to match your design and style.

4. Shade Sail

If a more permanent shade is your preference, you can find both manufactured and DIY options to add a shade sail to your back yard. These come in a variety of sizes and colors, or you can make one customized to your unique space.

5. Umbrella

When it comes to umbrellas, you can go the standard route and include one in the center of your outdoor dining table, or you can buy an extra large one to cover your entire outdoor living space.

6. Outdoor Curtains

If your outdoor living space gets the late afternoon sun, you may want to consider adding some outdoor curtains to block out the sunshine as it sinks lower in the sky. This adds a really nice design element and allows you to open and close them as you wish for both sunshine and privacy. It is especially good for balconies or terraces that need a bit of shade.

7. Climbing Vines

Whether you have a pergola, a privacy screen, or some other form of protection from the sun, adding some climbing vines can be a nice way to help the structure blend in a bit more and is a nice way to cool down the shady space beneath it. These sorts of vines typically require very little maintenance to flourish, so even if you don’t consider yourself much of a gardener, give this fun option a try.

Bonus Tip:

If you really want to stay cool this summer, you can line any of these shade ideas with misters. When you want to spend time outdoors, simply hook your hose up to the strip of misters and turn on the water. You will be gently misted with cold water all afternoon, staying cool and hydrated no matter how you choose to spend your time outdoors!

How To Create Shade for Your Deck

The official start of summer is tomorrow, and while it has been raining the past couple of days, we are still feeling the summer temperature in the Woodbridge area. Once the rain officially stops and we have our sunny skies again, homeowners will be enjoying summer in the backyards. Decks are one of the most popular spots for homeowners during the summer months. And while it is fun to use your deck for barbecues and gatherings, the sun can get very harsh.

As your deck builder in Woodbridge VA, we have come up with some ways to make your sunny days on your deck more comfortable.


Umbrellas are an easy and trendy way to add shade to your deck. A lot of patio furniture sets come with umbrellas, so if you are looking to add decor to your backyard, this would be a great way to do both.

Shade Sails

Another easy addition is shade sails. You can attach these shades to your home and to another extremity like a pole. Unlike the majority of umbrellas, these shades can be big enough to cover a whole deck.


A pergola addition can help protect you from the sun. Although when constructed these structures don’t seem like much help, you can add drapes and curtains to the top and to the sides. A pergola can also give your backyard a much more distinguished look. If you want to add a pergola to your deck, we can help you with that, just give us a call!

We hope these ideas help you in finding the right shade choice for your deck. If you are looking for a deck builder in Woodbridge Va, call MidAtlantic Contracting at 703-492-4663. Our experienced deck builder team can help you design and build the custom deck you’ve been envisioning. Whether it is screened-in or open, composite or wood, our experience and skill ensures that your family will enjoy an attractive product for years to come.

We offer the following deck services:

  • Custom decks
  • Porches & Stairs
  • Composite or Wood Materials
  • Maintenance-free decking
  • Screened or Covered Decks
  • Fence Installation

Like and follow our Facebook page to learn about future specials and to see photos of our recent work. And if you like our articles, don’t forget to check our most recent ones: 3 Ways Roofing Replacement Can Save You Money, 8 Questions to Ask Your Remodeling Contractor, and 6 Warning Signs That You Need New Siding.

Garden Shade Structures

After our post on the importance of shading your tomatoes if you garden in places with extreme heat we had some questions from gardeners on what type of shade works best and how to provide it.

Tie shade cloth directly onto plant supports to keep it in place on windy days.

So, we went out on the web and pulled off some photos of what we know works – in most cases things we have done ourselves, including this photo of basically a drape of shade cloth laid over the tomato plants and tied on with plastic clips or bread ties. This works, though it would be better if enough shade cloth is used to cover the sides (at least the west side) of the plant.

Amy has a raised bed garden with c-,clamps on the side that hold PVC piping. The PVC bends to fit into a c-clamp on the opposite side of the bed as shown in the photo. She also built a squared off PVC structure that will fit into the c-clamps. It provides more height for the plant. Here’s a lesson she learned: Avoid building the shade too high. Once, her six-foot high PVC frame with shade cloth attached became airborne in a storm and landed in the neighbor’s pool. She’s got it down to about four feet and has not lost it again.

An easy a-frame structure that could also be made from recycled pallets.

One shade structure that struck us as interesting is this one on the left made from what looks like pallets. It’s an interesting way to reuse something that is easily attainable, and you could staple the burlap or shade cloth onto the wood and be all set. We get lots of deliveries on pallets and the one thing we’ve learned is to wear gloves when moving or working with them. They are full of staples.

The small bed to the right with a post on the side is nice, too. It looks as if the shade cloth can be toggled onto the post and stretched to posts on the opposite side of the bed.

Tracy’s raised beds with attached shade canopies works well in a desert climate, cooling the area around the plants.

These well built raised-bed boxes with beams and shade cloth belongs to Tracy C. here in the Phoenix area. She’s got a garden to behold and this set up is perfect. Tracy’s garden is spacious, but her beds and shade structure can be adapted to any space. If you have rivets sewn into your shade cloth, it could be pulled back when full sun is needed.

The most important thing to remember when shading tomatoes or anything else, use 50% shade cloth, Any more than 50% is too much coverage and the plant will stop growing. Burlap works well, too.

Shade Cover Ideas: Tips On Using Shade Cloth In Gardens

It’s common knowledge that many plants need shade to protect them from bright sunlight. However, savvy gardeners also use shade cover for certain plants to avoid winter burn, also known as sunscald. This article will help with providing shade cover for plants.

How to Shade Plants in the Garden

Using shade cloth in gardens is a great way to provide shade for plants. Shade cloth comes in a variety of materials of different weights, strengths and colors, including UV-stabilized polyethylene covers, aluminum shade cloth and netting. All are available in most garden centers.

For vegetable gardens planted in rows, you can use floating row covers made of garden fabric. The shade cover material is lightweight and safe to drape directly over plants such as carrots or cabbage. For plants such as tomatoes or peppers, you can purchase support hoops to hold the cover above the plants.

If you’re on a budget, you can create a simple screen with white sheets. Install wooden stakes strategically, placing the screen where it protects the plants from direct sun, then staple the sheets to the stakes. You can place the sheet directly over the plants, but arrange the stakes so the sheet is suspended several inches above the plant.

Other shade cover ideas include old window screens or sheets of lattice, which can be propped or staked on the south or southwest side of the plants.

Evergreen Shade Cover Material

Sunscald, which primarily affects evergreens, is a type of sunburn that occurs on dry, windy, sunny winter days when plants are unable to draw water from dry or frozen soil. Damage can occur in the winter, but sunscald is often seen when plants are emerging from dormancy in early spring.

Covering evergreens isn’t recommended because the cover can trap winter sunlight and create even more dehydration. However, you can protect evergreens by placing screens made of burlap sheeting on the south and southwest sides of the evergreens.

Install wooden stakes in the ground before the ground freezes in autumn, then staple burlap to the stakes to create a screen. Allow at least 12 inches from the screen and the plant. If possible, the screens should be slightly higher than the plants. If this isn’t possible, protecting the base of the plants can be very helpful.

Alternatively, some gardeners opt for a reflective tree wrap, which may be a better option.

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