While searching for a solution for an uncomfortably hot and tricky situation at one of my projects, I felt that sharing my considerations might be helpful for other homeowners: We all love the idea of extending the hours spent outside in the garden, away from the hot sun, and there are multiple options available, depending on taste, needs and budget!
Here’s a description of the issue that prompted my research: At this residence, the owners have a pool whose design creates a difficult-to-shade lounge/dining area on the pool deck: A few steps up from the pool deck, tucked in a corner behind the spa, the lounging area had probably been originally a sun deck, but later the new owners wished to have a dining area here, and a gazebo was added to shelter the diners. Today, with modern style calling for bigger furniture, the homeowner noticed that the placement of the gazebo’s posts limits the usable space under its roof. What’s worse however, is that in the late afternoon the sun angle makes sitting here uncomfortably hot.
What are the homeowners’ options for a more comfortable dining room here? For those of my readers who know my previous post it comes as no surprise that my first thought was of using shade sails. Their flexible layout and playful character had me fall in love with them, and in certain situations, such as in the garden below, they provide the perfect solution to the shade needs, especially when surrounding structures allow to attach the sails, reducing the required number of posts. [Please see a quick review of some basic facts about shade sails at the end of this post.]
Regrettably, in my present project shade sails were not an option: For one, its design would have felt a bit “out of sync” with the classic, traditional almost Cape-Cod-feel of the residence. Moreover, attachment to the house isn’t possible as it’s too far away, and the required high tension can’t be achieved with very long cables. To install a sail would have required poles right next to the spa and the diners, on the pool deck – a situation that we all found too awkward.
It would have been too easy… [By the way, an excellent source for do-it-yourselfers of the entire shade sail package, information, and how-to videos, is at Shazeebo in Carlsbad, and at Shazeebo.com. Here the intrepid can find lots of information about how to install these airy objects.]
Another attractive way to provide cool shade for loungers or diners are structures made from wood or aluminum components and covered with durable Sunbrella® fabric. With curtains and retractable roofs “Pavilions provide more than just shade — they provides the ability to create an outdoor enclosure, protected from the elements.“ Also: These canopies, with their choices of style, color, and foot print can bring an element of elegance to a garden.
The pavilion above has been placed on extended footings, beautifully decorated by the owner herself, to provide extra head room. With the house color matching the canopy it feels like an extension of the house. (Cuscini pavilion; custom posts/pillar combination)
What about a wood structure, perhaps with shade fabric mounted underneath, like this one?
The lounge room created by this shade structure really looks inviting: The rolled-up fabric panels can be lowered to cut out the late afternoon sun, or folded aside if needed, and the spacing of the posts accommodates the lounge chairs without hindering people from moving around underneath. A layout like this requires generous garden space which is available here.
The cost for a wood pergola is about $30 – $35/sq ft without shade panels that can be fitted underneath the structure (here the 2nd lattice/cable frame underneath the top lath structure). Maintaining a wood structure means painting or staining regularly; the fabric panels need to be power washed occasionally.
For our project, we know that a structure like the one above can take different shapes, and although our pool deck doesn’t allow a rectangular structure, a fan-shaped one could fit here. The strongest argument against a fan-shaped pergola is that we’d have a “forest of posts” to carry the necessary spans between them. And this idea doesn’t seem appealing…
For my present project, the next option we considered was a parasol with ‘tiltable’ canopy. It’s exciting to see how the interest in outdoor living and comfortable shade rooms has pushed the advancement of the “shade technology”, and there are quite a few brands available of single cantilever parasols of sturdy quality and contemporary design. One of them is Treasure Garden that offer various umbrella types and sizes that can be rotated and tilted in a few pre-set angles and whose sun-rated fabrics can be chosen from 11 different manufacturers. As their website promises: “Having the proper shade elements can lower summertime temperature up to 20 degrees allowing for more enjoyment.” http://collections.treasuregarden.com/prototypes?option_desc=Cantilever
Bingo! For our situation, this type of outdoor shade structure looks like it will work: The 13 ft diameter umbrella would comfortably shade our pool deck, and the single post can be in the corner, bolted to the concrete deck. Besides rotating the canopy by 360 degrees, it can be tilted towards the afternoon sun (valences should increase the sun protection). I feel that this design is classic and elegant and would just work with the residence’s architecture and the materials and design of the pool area. In the next couple of weeks we’ll check out the parasols, and the owners will make a decision.
(This friendly reminder is offered by Jez Stratton of California Sail Shades at www.CaliforniaSailShades.com)
Here’s a repeat of some basics for shade sails:
- Steel poles can be around $1,200.00 each installed.
- House connection points are $350.00 each installed
- 20’x20′ custom shade sail would be $2,600.00 installed.
- Protection from UV rays (some fabrics offer up to 97 % UV protection);
- Custom designed to fit the project’s requirements, in triangle, or trapezoid/square shapes (some standard sizes are available);
- They represent cool landscape ideas that add value to the home and attractiveness to the landscape;
- They can serve as vertical screen to increase privacy or block out a bad view;
- They can be designed and installed to withstand high wind ratings.
- Low maintenance: Yearly washing is recommended (some installers offer this service).
“Maintenance: Pretty much trouble free: They can gather airborne pollution which will dull the color over time. I don’t recommend using a white shade cloth if it’s close to a freeway for example as it will become grey and dingy rather quickly. They are relatively easy to clean using a power washer from below and as the cloth is essentially plastic dirt washes off quite easily.
Fading: The top of the sail will fade over time, again darker colors are more prone to this, but far less than most other outdoor fabrics such as Sunbrella.
Lifespan 10 years + : When installed properly (i.e. under very high tension to prevent flapping and mechanical wear) they can last 10 years plus in most circumstances and remember the sail itself is generally only 25% of the total cost of installation so replacing it is not too expensive.
UV degradation warranty: All sails carry a UV degradation warranty. We also insist on using Tenara thread which is made from PTFE (Teflon) which is virtually indestructible by UV. Many other shade sails use a polyester thread which can weaken after a few years due to UV which limits the service life of the sail if the stitching fails!
The late afternoon is always a challenge due to the setting sun and can only be overcome by extending the reach of the sail further west or as you suggested lowering the sail. This often conflicts with a customer’s view which creates issues as well. Finding the right balance is the challenge but remember the shade structure allows you to venture out during the day also. Generally speaking you can reduce the temperatures by 20º during the heat of the day under a shade sail.”