Easiest way to put up shade cloth?

marashipleyMay 14, 2014


I'm a relatively new gardener, and I have a very small (4' by 6') organic garden in zone 7a, which has very hot summers beginning in June. Since the temperatures are in the 90s most of the summer once it really heats up in June, I was thinking of putting up 40% shade cloth and just leaving it up for the duration of the summer. Or maybe 30%. Either way, I was hoping some of you helpful folks could answer a few of my questions if you're able.

1. There are no trees or structures around my garden, so I'm going to have to put up some hoops or poles to hold up the shade cloth. As I mentioned, my garden is 4' by 6', and I'd like the shade cloth to be 6.5' to 7' high, since I have tomatoes that end up getting pretty tall. I'm having trouble finding plans for PVC hoops that are that tall, that also fit a 4' by 6' garden. Plus, hoops seem like more work than just putting up 4 posts, and also since the plants are already in, I think putting PVC hoops inside the garden might disturb the roots. So, can anyone tell me the easiest/cheapest way to put four 7' posts in my yard (non-permanent)? Would rebar and PVC pipe work as posts? Obviously I have no idea what I'm doing.
2. If there isn't really an easy/cheap/non-permanent way to put four posts up, could someone tell me how I would do 7' hoops with PVC pipes in a 4' by 6' garden?
3. Does anyone have a good recommendation about the best/cheapest 6' wide grommeted shade cloth? I've only found rolls of it that are really really long, but I don't need very much. I know I'll end up with more of it than I need no matter what, but I certainly don't need 100 feet of it.

Sorry this is so long. I'd really appreciate any advice at all. Thanks!

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If you can get 1/2 inch PVC tubing in 20 foot lengths, you can make a hoop over a 4 foot wide bed that's roughly eight feet high in the center. Shove four rods of rebar thin enough to go inside the tubing and long enough to get a firm hammering into the ground with a foot or so sticking up. A couple of bent nails or electrical conduit 2-hole clamps can help with steadiness by "attaching" the rebar to raised bed sides if necessary. Slide the tubing down over the rebar. Don't worry about roots.

You can put up hoops in parallel like a Conestoga wagon or cross them in an X. You can also put up plastic tubing "poles", which means straight sections that don't hoop back down; they will be more flexible.

How's your wind, and are you comfortable putting large sails into the wind?

I was given a hot tip for edged and grommeted shade cloth: Harbor Freight. They also have scads of cheap clamps or you could use those huge binder clips!

Also remember, you don't have to shade all the plants if some are in the shade of others.

Here is a link that might be useful: Harbor Freight

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 12:54AM
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zzackey(8b GA)

IMO, I would use no higher than 30% shade for your veggies. I only used that shade cloth for houseplants. Is there anyone in your area doing the same thing you can ask? Or maybe ask at your local ag center?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 4:20PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

You can make hoops easy and cheap with 10 foot 1/2 inch EMT conduit. Bend it with your foot. It is very easy.

Here I am making a tunnel for 14 foot greenhouse film. I couldn't get the EMT in the soil there very well so the project was put on hold. I will obviously connect the 2 pieces once they are pushed in well.

As for shade cloth, the proper greenhouse kind is super expensive and since you need so little try the shade tarps at home stores. I also use the cheapest grade of weed blocker as a shade strip in summer, but not up in the air.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:51PM
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Thanks so much for your replies! I'll take the advice about the 30% cloth and shopping at Harbor Freight. Too bad I just threw away a mailer with a good coupon from them. People around here do a lot of moving bedsheets back and forth on the hottest days/parts of the day and I didn't want to mess with that. Many people are also just generally better/more experienced at gardening and somehow get tomatoes to keep going in 100 degree weather. Thanks for telling me what measurements of hoops I need. This is my second vegetable garden ever, and I hope it goes better than my first.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 4:17PM
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