DIY: Freestanding Shade Canopy for Garden

Monday, July 25, 2016

DIY Garden Shade Canopy // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

The best thing I did for my patio container garden was DIY this super easy shade cloth canopy. It's nothing fancy to look at, but the results that have come from it have been excellent. When June started this year, I was expecting comfortable temperatures in the lower 80's, but we had a crazy heatwave of triple digits and my plants were all stunted and not growing. Tomato blossoms were drying up and falling off, seedlings weren't putting out new leaves, and the plants that had good leaves were showing signs of severe scorch. 

As soon as I put up the canopy, the plants started to grow rapidly. Almost over night I started seeing a steady production of leaves and vine growth on all my tomatoes, squash, cucumber and melons. Big, lush foliage formed on my beans, and peppers. 

Also, I've been out there in the heat of the early afternoon when the sun is straight over head, and the temperature under the shade canopy is drastically different than around or above it. If you're struggling with heat hurting your garden, I highly recommend this simple DIY shade cloth canopy. 


Question: What does the shade cloth percentage mean? 
It's the amount of sun that is blocked with the cloth. Higher percentages are woven tighter to let less light through. Veggies are grown best under 30-50% shade cloth which essentially allows 50-70% of the sun through so they still grow well. This is common for greenhouses. Also, the weaving of the cloth allows rain to get through.



DIY Shade Cloth Canopy Instructions:

What you will need for this project:
+ 30-50% shade cloth (I used 40%)
+ Half to three quarter-inch PVC piping (for my 8 x 6 x 5 foot frame we used 10' length PVC and cut it down)
+ 8 PVC side outlet 90-degree elbows (these are the corner connectors pictured to the right.)
+ Zip ties
+ Scissors
+ Hand Saw 
+ Hammer
+ Measuring tape

Measurements + Cost
For this project I needed to build a 8 x 6 foot canopy that was 5 feet tall. It cost about $35 to build. I bought the PVC from Home Depot and the shade cloth from Amazon. Feel free to shop around, that's all I had in my area. 

Prep Step
Measure around your garden plot to get the length and width. Add 6 inches to each measurement as you'll want a little bit of overhang in order to fit the canopy frame around your plot, and keep the edges of the plot shaded. Measure your tallest plant or what you anticipate it to grow to, and add a foot or two to that measurement in order to allow plants to grow, and air to circulate between the canopy and plants. 

Example: My canopy is 5 feet tall, my tomato cage and pot are about 3.5 feet high and my tomato plant has room to stretch and grow, without hitting the canopy.

STEP 1
Use the hand saw to cut PVC pipes to the measurements for length, width and height. You will need 4 of each length and width measurement, and 4 of the height measurement. The pipe is soft and cuts really easily. I am a weakling and was still able to do it myself. 

DIY Garden Shade Canopy // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

STEP 2
Build bottom rectangle of frame by putting together the length and width pieces and connecting them with corner pieces. Lightly hammer the corner pieces so that the length and width pieces are snug in the corner connectors and stay. You can do this by holding onto the PVC pipe near the corner, and hammering the connector on to the pipe a little farther. 

Special Note: Make sure to build the frame AROUND your veggie plot, other wise you'll end up having to lift it high above your plot which will be difficult depending on its size, and could result in making the frame fall apart or hurting your plants. 

STEP 3
Add sides of frame by using the height pieces. Add the corner pieces to the tops of each and hammer them down, as well. 

DIY Garden Shade Canopy // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

STEP 4
Finish building the frame by piecing together the top of the frame with the rest of the length and width pieces. Hammer to secure them as well. 

STEP 5
Use measuring tape and scissors to cut shade cloth to fit the frame. Secure the shade cloth to the frame with zip ties about every 6-12 inches.  Step back and admire your creation. You are finished!

DIY Garden Shade Canopy // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

OPTIONAL STEP
Set something heavy over each corner on the ground. We used bricks. This helps secure it to the ground in case a heavy gust of wind makes it catch some air. (Also known as the way our patio umbrella met it's untimely demise in our neighbor's yard.)

This canopy can be sized to fit any plot you have. Shade levels can also be modified to help create deep shade for plants that do not love direct sun. You can also expand the canopy by adding more frame pieces if you need to make it larger or sturdier.

Shade cloth canopies are a great way to protect your garden. My plants are all about 3-4 weeks behind on growth, but I am already seeing fruit production in just 3 weeks of having the shade cloth up! I hope to have fruit by August instead of July.

This canopy was super quick to make, and easy. The costs were relatively cheap, not ideal, but I was risking losing the whole garden. Also, the way I built it, it is reusable and able to be taken apart and stored for the winter. I plan to use mine for years and have healthy vegetable plants because of it! Anybody can have healthy plants with this easy DIY.

///// You can also see a modified version of this made with bamboo poles in this post. /////

++ Happy DIY-ing! If you try this and have photos of your project, please send them to me. I'd love to see your work! 


DIY Garden Shade Canopy // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

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