shade house out of closet maid shelving and shade cloth

barbcoleus(z10 Cape Coral,Fl)June 11, 2009

My poor old grapefruit tree is giving up the ghost. I think it was damaged from a hurricane we had several years ago so I won't be able to use it to shade my orchids any more.

I was thinking of building an extremely simple shade house. Four right angles of closet maid shelving attached to a roof border of closet maid shelving. All of this held together with those plastic cable ties. The roof will be shade cloth. It doesn't have to be too sturdy because it won't be supporting much weight and I'll definitely disassemble it if we have any hurricane warnings. I don't have any trees that are large enough or any other shade where I want to put my plants.

What do you think?

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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Hi, Barb. Should work if you build it tight and fasten on the shade cloth so it won't "sail" on you. My concern would be the thing collapsing in on itself. From my experience jerry-building shade structures for about 5 years (and improving them as various disasters showed up the weaknesses) you also need a good strong base that won't tip over even in strong winds, or if bumped by somebody. Sailing can also knock the whole thing over if not heavy and the sailcloth isn't fastened tight.

What I am using now: I am using those chrome carts on casters (roll in and out from the deck). They are about 4' x 20" or so, and built about waist high. They have two shelves. The taller orchids are on the bottom shelf. These are quite heavy and won't tip over in wind. My earlier efforts used smaller, narrower and lighter shelves, and I did have a couple of disaster tipovers.

The big chrome shelves come in 5-shelf units for about $75 at Sam's. One 5-shelf unit will build two of the carts I use.

On the top shelf, I left 3-4 inches of the posts above the shelf. Then I put that plastic plumbing tubing over the posts in long inverted "U"s, -- two per cart. This makes a sturdy, rigid structure about 18" above the top shelf to hold the shadecloth above the plants. On the top horizontal tube, I put three screw-in cuphooks. The shade cloth drapes over the plumbing tubes and is hooked to the cuphooks, keeping it from "sailing".

I got this idea from a couple of posts using the plastic plumbing tubes to build light carts. Sorry I can't remember whose they were. It works a treat for my purposes, which is to take the shade cloth on and off each day (quickly). They are also very strong, so no problem of the whole thing imploding.

I don't know if this would hold up during a terrible storm like the ones we get here in the Midwest, because I roll the carts inside before a bad storm.

At any rate, the point is that yes, a more or less jerry-built shade house can work fine if it's sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of outdoors.

If you wanted to, you could leave the top shelf without plants and drape the shade cloth directly over the top shelf instead. I have too many to do that, so I put the smaller plants on the top shelves.

I cluster my (5) carts together and put a big 10 x 12 piece of shade cloth on the whole cluster. Takes only a few minutes to put the shade on or off.

I hope you'll let us know what you finally build for them.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 12:34PM
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jerry_meola(SW Florida)

The frames will rust out in 2-3 years if not sooner.

Pressure treated 4x4s would work better with 2x6 aross the top.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 1:45PM
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barbcoleus(z10 Cape Coral,Fl)

Thanks for your ideas and suggestions. Right now I have my plants on the Closet Maid shelving on cinder blocks circling around the grapefruit tree. THe plants are in big clay pots with lava rock so they are pretty heavy. I have dreams of making them specimen plants. If I used pressure treated wood, I'd have to sink them in the ground with cement
I think I'll probably take a trip to HD or Lowes and see if there's anything that would work.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 9:05AM
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hi, i have one of those gazebos with a canvas top. but instead of using the canvas top, i have used shade cloth and have placed my orchids under that for the summer. i did that for the first time last summer and it worked quite well. good luck with whatever method you decide. babying those babies is such a challenge -


    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 10:34PM
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barbcoleus(z10 Cape Coral,Fl)

DId you take the canvas off yourself or did it come that way?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 10:52PM
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hi, the canvas is removable. it has snaps and zippers to fasten it to the frame. it has to be removed in the winter here because the weight of the snow would rip it. also the canvas would freeze if left out. we get pretty cold winters.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 7:44PM
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barbcoleus(z10 Cape Coral,Fl)

Here's what I finally built by myself. It's a little primitive but it's shade. I'm thinking of lowering from 7 ft to 6 ft. and putting some cross pieces so I can hang more orchids. There's a leftover shelf so I guess I'll have to buy more orchids.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 10:32PM
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looks pretty good. the main thing is that it does its job. i am always for more orchids.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 10:40PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

What is the hurricane plan?? I use the screen room but even then I put most on the ground or bring them into the house. gary

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 5:47AM
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barbcoleus(z10 Cape Coral,Fl)

It's not glued together so the hurricane plan is to knock it apart. I plan on cutting a foot out of the uprights posts put connectors in the 4 posts and lay it on the ground and putting my orchids on the ground or in the house. All of the orchids have been outside year round even on the two days we get cold. I'm going to attach old blankets or sheets to the side walls if it gets cold. It's small enough that I could string lights in it.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 9:31AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

While my concrete footing shadehouse survived there was some roof damage which meant that there was no shade after the hurricanes. Of course this also hold true of those grown in trees . Foliage was completely removed so same problem. The small shadehouse was torn down completely. What i did was move them all to the large one in spite of all the crowding and used some temporary shadecloth until I could get it fixed. Mostly worked but boy was that a busy three days lol.
One problem I encountered after Fay was not the wind but flooding .While putting them on the ground saved them from the wind didn't do a thing for being under 3 feet of water lol.
I keep free flight birds in the large shadehouse and still have not come up with a plan that works.. Even a small hole is a real problem with them lol.
Good luck!!! Maybe we'll be lucky and not need a "plan" this year?? gary

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 5:48AM
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barbcoleus(z10 Cape Coral,Fl)

I thought I responded a couple days ago -I guess it's gone to cyber space. Hurricane CHarley knocked down 5 huge trees on my property, there was no damage to our house or the houses next door so I considered that a warning and now have no tall trees at all.
We are 11 ft above sea level and a block from a tidal canal so I am somewhat concerned about flooding although we've never had any flooding the 29 years we've been in this house. If we have a hurricane warning I can drop the shade and put the orchids on the pea gravel that's there and maybe just cover them with the shade fabric. If we have flooding,I'll have bigger concerns than my orchids.
I'm going to contact the sprinkler guy and find out how realistic it would be to run a pipe to the area and put in a sprinkler head. We are allowed to use sprinkler water twice a week for four hours so it would be a nice back up water plan.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 10:49AM
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I did something similar a few years back and had the utmost success. I was in California then and there you can do pop-ups like this. Now I am in Colorado, in the coldest place in the state where I have to put up a greenhouse, be real inventive on heating not to mention having a wood stove inside of it.

Now I am reserved to growing things indoors until the frost is gone if I want to plant something outside the greenhouse. One day I will post pictures of my 25'x25' greenhouse it is very unique.

Here is a link that might be useful: Purple Bhut Jolokia seeds

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 3:43PM
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