Shade Sails

Posted by @Cocobid on
We rarely see shade sails here in the United States, in contrast to countries like Australia, where their use is quite common. We stumbled upon them totally by accident and necessity about 9 years ago. After a nasty storm that tore our large awning off the western side of the patio, we needed a new form of sun protection fast. We installed these only as a temporary solution, but found that they would always be a permanent installation at our home.

Once our awnings came down, our home and garden were completely exposed to the searing west-facing Texas sun. An awning is a solid structure, often made of metal or solid vinyl, which can block air flow. Shade sails allow air flow instead of trapping heat in an area. They also allow some moisture to penetrate the sail fabric, as well as light. Sails act like trees without the 30-year wait for a natural canopy. As wind moves the canopies, it generates air flow to everything under them, helping to eliminate the "dead" air the typical awning creates.

As in the case of anything else we do in the garden, this requires a little planning. When installing shade sails, you have to do some measuring, for post placement as well as for the angle of the shade shape you need, prior to ordering. This also takes aesthetic planning: What do you want the sail to look like and where do you need it? You can Google for images of shade installations and find lots of images.

Shade sails typically come in square, rectangular, or triangular (R or L) shapes. The prices of the sails can vary. Some are fancy, custom-made sails with a specific percentage of shade cloth density and a variety of custom colors and sizes. We ordered our sails from an eBay vendor and replaced them for the first time this year. We leave ours up year round, unless we are expecting heavy snow or ice.

By now some of you might be wondering how our plants like it. The answer is that they LOVE it. Our plumerias and brugmansias no longer have a sunburned look during our summers. We hope to install a misting system, to work in conjunction with our shade sails.

On any given summer day before the sails were installed, the temperature was 15-20 degrees warmer in our western-facing den. In our climate it is not abnormal to have more than 90 days of temperatures at or around 100 degrees. The overall cooling effect on our home is incredible. Our A/C system is not running all the time, and our home is so much cooler now that we have the shade sails.

I hope this article helps someone in need of a shading solution.

Thumb of 2014-04-26/Cocobid/4205ba

Thumb of 2014-04-26/Cocobid/a520ee

Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
A bit challenging to hang... by chelle May 25, 2014 9:04 PM 1
Sail away! by RobertLesko May 11, 2014 5:53 AM 0
Very nice tip! by virginiarose May 5, 2014 10:37 PM 25
Totally awesome by ilovejesus99 May 5, 2014 4:14 PM 1
It did help ... by SongofJoy May 4, 2014 1:20 PM 5

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