Shade Cloth

Centurion_(Verde Valley AZ Z8)July 19, 2014

I have a couple of questions for those of you with more experience gardening in our climate. (I've been in the Verde Valley for nearly three years now).

I have decided to put my veggies and berries and a couple of my fig trees under shade cloth next year. I tried it on a limited basis this year and it seems like the way to go.

So...what percentage shade cloth do you all use? I was thinking of using 50% for veggies and berries.

Also...what do you use as a framework? I will be shading two long 8 ft wide strips, and a couple of 8x8's over trees. I am planning to hang it high enough to walk (and work) under. Probably 6 '6" or thereabouts.





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GeeS 9b

50% is a good all-purpose number. Use PVC for a framework, You can even buy PVC clamps designed to hold the cloth. It's all very inexpensive and leaves you with but a single logistics issue -- how to weigh it down so it won't blow away.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 1:12AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

For a structure, we bought those carport type steel frames from Pep Boys. Steel is more durable than pvc, they are inexpensive, especially if you find a coupon or get them during sale time (late summer maybe). They usually come with a tarp of some kind and I'll use that until it rips apart, then get a mesh cover from Harbor Freight that has grommetted edges. I don't have any good pictures of the structure to post but hope this helps.

To hold the structure in place, we have used buckets of sand bungee corded to the holes in the pipe (there is a pre-drilled hole every few feet/inches in the steel pipe) or a cinder block tied to a cross beam of the structure.

This post was edited by marymcp on Sat, Jul 19, 14 at 9:28

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 9:23AM
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1. 10 foot long 1/2" id PVC pipe ($3)

2. Two - 2 foot long 1/2" (aka #4) ribbed rebar driven halfway into the garden bed or just outside garden bed on both sides of the 4' wide garden. ($6) Repeat spaced 4-6 feet apart down garden bed.

3. Form a hoop by sliding the end of the pipe over the rebar and bending it to slide over the other rebar. Repeat going down bed.

4. If you want the pipes to last more than 4 years paint them with white latex (or any color really) so no sun exposed areas exist. (h/t TheGardenPool)

5. Put the shade cloth over (10' wide x garden length ($3 per linear foot plus s&h) maybe including sides). I rather like 40% white, knitted, UV resistant (h/t TheGardenPool). But I usually can only find 50% at a good price.

6. Attach cloth with 3 large binder clips ($2) available from office supply stores. One at top, and one on either side of each pipe.

No center pole needed.

7. May need pole (made of PVC or wood) attached to edge to roll them up for ease of entry, otherwise just pull up and aside to access.

8. Can withstand A LOT of wind but if wind can get underneath may pull it off.

9. Remove shade cloth and repair (knit, duct tape) every fall, fold up and store for next summer. Good for about 4 years. Leave pipes in place year round for use holding bird netting (can combine with shade/frost cloth) or frost cloth/winter hoop cloth.

Here is a link that might be useful: White 50% UV PE Knitted Shade Cloth

This post was edited by Fascist_Nation on Sat, Jul 19, 14 at 18:13

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 6:06PM
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GeeS 9b

A fair plan, but I would definitely favor 3/4" or 1" PVC. Far more steady and only marginally more costly. Snap clamps are available at the link, they're very inexpensive and look good.

Here is a link that might be useful: Snap clamps

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 6:48PM
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Centurion_(Verde Valley AZ Z8)

Great info. I appreciate the suggestions and detailed feedback.

Due to some degenerating disks and arthritis In my back, I am looking for something I can maintain at just over 6 feet off the ground with no sides, so I can walk and work underneath with minimal bending.

I have been thinking...perhaps 2x4's for posts, (8 footers, for around $2.50 apiece), sunk a foot in the ground, with a 2x4 cross support on top every 8 to 10 feet for the 40 feet length (8 foot width) of the garden strip.

Using knitted cloth that doesn't tear easily or unravel, I would have a cover 8 feet wide and 40 feet long that I could walk under.

If I use finishing nails on the extreme edge on top of each support, I can pop the edge of the shade cloth and slide it off and down on the south side when I need to take it off due to overcast or rain and high winds.

PVC might do the trick instead of 2x4's. Especially on my proposed 8x8 foot tree shades. Probably 1 inch for what I have in mind. Are those slip clamps easy to remove and replace? Would they stand up to multiple removals and re applications?

The portable carport framework idea is also intriguing.

Still thinking this through.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 7:32PM
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GeeS 9b

I suspect the clamps will become brittle in our sun and heat over a few short years, but they're inexpensive @ $0.40 apiece. The big advantage of PVC beside cost is portability. If that portability doesn't suit your purpose and you prefer a more permanent structure, and you can live with 10' x 40', I might go with the steel frames suggested by marymcp in the third post.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 11:24PM
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Well, I have used galvanized IMC electrical conduit pipe in the past to vertical garden. About 5x more expensive than PVC but it lasts a long time outdoors; no signs of rusting after 5 years outside except at very bottom where in direct contact with soil and rebar shoved up its tookus. Need a pipe cutter. Use 90 degree screw down elbows to connect. They do sell a pipe bender tool, but I have never used it...does create possibility of a seamless hoop though for increased corrosion resistance. I could see wind hitting shade cloth bending the attached pipe however.

At one point I fantasized about growing full sized watermelons on a vertical trellis using galvanized water pipe. Such water pipe would be very strong and are fairly inexpensive. The only problem with wood is it too rots so paint it.

The Sun City people put a galvanized chain link "fence" cage around their gardens upon which things can be hung, trellised, attached, etc. Keeps critters out. That would outlast you and you can get experienced fencers to put that in for you. I'd probably shoot for 8 feet high with 3 foot clearance all around where you and your wheelbarrow go. With grape vines you can grow your own shade eventually.

You really should not have to shade fruit trees beyond first leaf except cherries and in the Verde Valley I would expect even then.

Here is a link that might be useful: Home Depot on IMC conduit

This post was edited by Fascist_Nation on Tue, Jul 22, 14 at 12:51

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 12:15PM
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Centurion_(Verde Valley AZ Z8)

I have considered galvanized fence posts for the uprights. I did my front and back fencing using chain link fabric, and they are sturdy permanent, and easy to work with.

Good point about wood posts probably having to be painted and probably replaced after several years, but wood is cheaper and (for me) easier to work with.

Is there any advantage to the hoop style structure vrs. a horizontal top support? My thoughts are that, with a horizontal 2x3 connecting posts every ten feet along my strip, a couple of finishing nails poking up on top would hold shade cloth pretty well.

I will be removing the shade cloth in the winter and during cloudy/windy/rainy days and would want to be able to do this quickly and easily.

I have found that staples and finishing nails hold the knitted cloth to wood rather well, and that finishing nails have the advantage of allowing the shade cloth to be removed and re attached fairly easily. The knitted cloth won't unravel or tear easily. This is working pretty well on my current temporary makeshift structures.

I am keeping my eye out for used fence posts. The plan is to do it this winter, so I have time to look for a deal.

I really do appreciate all the info. Lots of ways to do this.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:35PM
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Hi Dave, go with the 2"X4" we discussed. You won't be sorry.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 3:17PM
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Centurion_(Verde Valley AZ Z8)

That does appear to be my best option at the moment. I may even set the corner posts in concrete for added stability.

Thanks everyone for your help and suggestions. This is one project I am really looking forward to.

This post was edited by Centurion_ on Tue, Jul 22, 14 at 16:45

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 4:43PM
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