Kitchen Counter Economics Rotating Header Image

More Shady Doings at Chez Siberia

I did not describe the process by which Aunt Toby came to the conclusion that making shades for the pergola was the way to go. Actually, I did not describe the process by which the decision to put a pergola on the deck was made either. But, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

There are numerous ways to gain shade:
Plant a tree next to your house. The only down side to this is that unless you have a whole lot of money to get a 20′ tree installed, you will be waiting about 15 years for your shade to hit higher up than your knees.

Plant a vine with big leaves. If you live in Zone 5 or warmer, this is definitely an option, though again, you will be waiting for a couple of years for the wisteria, etc. to climb up to the top of the structure to cover it.
There are annual vines that you can grow but coverage might be spotty and of course, once you have a big frost, there is the slimy leftovers to contend with. Chez Siberia is in Zone 3 (zone 2 in spots), so vegetative was out.

If you have a deck with no overhangs such as a pergola, there are several movable, temporary shading methods:
Umbrellas. Some of these are quite large and would certainly shade one or two people in chairs but not the whole deck.

Solar Sails: This neat trick from the land where no kid goes to school without a hat (the skin cancer rate in Australia is a national obsession; their rate of skin cancer is the highest in the world and skin cancer is the number one cancer in Australia) consists of artfully stretched pieces of shade cloth such as can be found here: Coolaroo

Actual Shade Cloth material: You can get shade cloth from greenhouse suppliers and some of them even finish them off with binding and grommets. Measure your space, choose your shade tarp and off you go. Not the most artistically aesthetic answer, but you can get percentages of shade up to 90% and sometimes in colors other than black.

Curtains or shades. You can find these made from shade cloth, acrylic-based fabrics such as Sun-Tex, Sunbrella, and PhiferTex (the fabrics themselves can be found for the do-it-yourselfer in places such as this: Seattle Fabrics). They can be found in conformations such as a shower curtain on a rod or wire, roller/Roman shades with installation hardware and so on or you can make them yourself. Another option for the do-it-yourself project here is (an embarrassment to me because I should have thought of this immediately when I started thinking about this) is hemp canvas, which comes in many different weights and which is, pound for pound, more durable, more resistant to UV and water damage (even salt water). This is the original fiber used in marine canvas and sails, sailors’ clothing and so on. It is also mold and mildew resistant and antibacterial. And not petroleum based like acrylic.

I shoulda thought of that first. Hemp canvas can be found in places such as Hemp Traders and Harts Fabric and Dharma Trading. Just do a search on ‘hemp canvas fabrics’.

More to come…
(photo courtesy of Big Nosed Ugly Guy)

Blog Widget by LinkWithin


  1. Auntie Allyn says:

    I appreciate this series . . . I had a small concrete patio poured at the back entrance to my house, and the sun BEATS down on that area all day long! I need to create some sort of shade in this area (as well as decorate it), so your information and experience will be tremendously helpful!

  2. Aunt Toby says:

    Oh, Auntie – the concrete patio is a real heat sink. Another idea for you is to put lots of plants – big, small, potted trees, you name it – out there to break up the concrete space (if nothing else, they are green and more pleasant to look at) and lower the temperature (the air temps under the canopy of green is 10-15 degrees cooler than air temps outside). Additionally, you will have to water them and the plants will then transpire moisture in the patio area which will also lower the temperature. We have some corn palms on the deck now which will be put on the part of the deck that doesn’t have the pergola on it. They are big enough and will throw some shade there as well. This is basically the same technique being used with ‘green roofs’ in places like Chicago. It cools off the roof and helps keep the amount of energy used to cool the building down.

  3. Olivia Smith says:

    Sunblocks can also reduce the incidence of skin cancer by preventing UV to harm your skin.:”;

Bad Behavior has blocked 736 access attempts in the last 7 days.