Archive for the ‘Pergolas / Gazebos / Sun Shades’ Category

Single triangle shade sail from Cool Shade Sails

If you do not want to put up a traditional structure like a Pergola, Arbor or Gazebo, but are still searching for something to provide protection from the sun over the summer, then you should really consider the shade sail.  These are becoming more are more popular across Australia as a beautiful and functional alternative.  Australians are choosing the shade sail over traditional roofing and laserlite over their decks, over the carports and they are sensational as shade providers if you have a backyard pool or play area for your children.  In fact, the shade sail can cut up to 90% of direct UV rays depending on the type of material you choose*.

Below are some of the tips and thoughts to consider when planning your shade sail.

Location and supports

One of the first things you will need to do is plan where your shade sails are going to go.  You probably already have a fairly good idea about this, so then it is a matter of determining where your support structures will go.  There are several options you can choose from.  If you have a house large tree or other fixed load bearing structure, you can use this as one or more of the anchor points for your shade sail.  Knowing the location of these supports is important, as it will influence the placement of your other posts and the size of the sail.

If you are going to install the sails yourself, you will need to ensure that the posts or structures that you plan to use are load bearing.

Ideas, colours and design

Shade Sail idea from the Shade Sail Gallery Video by Sail Shade World

At this point you will need to select your design.  There is a great photo idea video on YouTube here.  This shows a number of different options that you can think about in designing what colours and design you are interested in.

In terms of design consider a large twisted oblong, multiple triangles, two overlapping sails, as a start.  The number of  different shapes and designs possible is what makes these shade sails so versatile.  If you are able, ensure your sails have a twist, this reduces the impact of leaf build up, they wont store water when it rains and as long as put up correctly should be able to withstand strong winds.


With your design all ready to go, it is worthwhile contacting your local council to confirm that you do not need to get official approval.  For most designs you will not need to, but as always it is worth checking first.

Purchasing your sails and installation

If you are doing it yourself, ensure that you have point to point measurements to make sure your sail is going to fit.  Talk to the sail cloth provider and get their advice as to the size and shape, if you have a drawing and photo, take them along to give them an even better idea.  The more you discuss your plan the more likely you will get the best outcome.

When buying the sail cloth, ensure that you ask about its tendency to stretch, as cheaper materials will do this, and you will end up with a baggy sail shade which flaps around in the wind rattling at its posts.  Ask to see different material swatches and query their fade resistance and lifespan.

When installing your sail, ensure that you have a good angle on the sail so that rain water runs off and that you have enough tension in your sale to allow for a curve.  Get the tension nice and firm so that it doesn’t flap and follow the instructions supplied, using the correct fittings and fixtures for your sail.

For all your sail shade needs, including posts, fixtures and sails, check out the DIY Bargain Bin Pergola, Gazebo and Sun Shade section.

* Remember that you should wear sunscreen, hat and shirt even if you are in the shade, due to indirect and reflected UV.


Spring is the most perfect time to get out in the garden and to get handy with a bit of DIY work.  But rather than take on those boring old maintenance jobs, it is always more fun to create something that is new, special and will really add to the look of your home.  Plus given that spring is the time of growth, you can plant some little pretty vines on either side of your new creation!

So we know that you love our top ‘How to’ collections, so here are our favourite arbor guides available on the internet:

1. Rose garden arbor

This one is provided by WRCLA and has lots of diagrams and instructions to create a traditional wooden lattice sided arbor.  By finishing the creation with a coat of white outdoor paint, and a creeping rose, this arbor will look gorgeous.

The website also contains instructions for other outdoor projects like fences, gates, gazebos and planters.  In addition they also have two alternative arbor plans.

2. Rustic cost effective arbor

If you are looking for a cheaper arbor that still looks great, then you may like this one from Grandpa’s Workshop.  Given his Scottish heritage, the price of buying an arbor was not sitting well with him, so he has created his own and has attached full instructions for how you can do the same.

3. Garden bench arbor

If you would rather your arbor is a seat than a walkway then this one from the Woodworking Super Centre may be right.  The arbor is built and nestled in its base is a beautiful wooden seat.  The instructions and diagrams from this site are great!

4. Simple garden arbor design

This arbor from has no sides so to speak, the top trellis is supported by two side posts only.  This would make a good entrance to a garden, however because there is no side trellis, it would not support some vines.  Make sure you ask your plant nursery to advise if your plant could be trained up it.  You may be able to achieve this by running some wire up each post.

5. Beautiful double bench arbor

Ron Hazelton has produced a great step by step guide to this fantastic arbor.  Like the last one it doesn’t feature the traditional trellis sides but instead both sides have a seat on which people can sit, the back of which is open to the garden.  Clearly this arbor is designed to look good on its own without the need of vines or climbers.

Hopefully we have supplied you with five fantastic designs and one will prove perfect for you next project!

Quite often you can look out into your backyard and you know that it is crying out for something, some kind of feature to transform it from the ordinary to the extraordinary, and what could that be?  Well some of the most popular backyard structures are the pergola, arbor and gazebo, but what exactly is the difference between all of these and which will best suit your home?

Below we will explore what each is and how it looks:

The Pergola

Modern pergola by Everyday Guide. By clicking on this image you can find instructions on how to create this pergola.

A pergola is essentially a passageway which is covered.  Often these passage ways are supported by strong pillars that support a lattice roof through which vines are woven.  Though this is the traditional pergola there are many different variations on the pergola and some use wire to create a pergola tunnel or use a solid wall or structure on one side instead of pillars.

There is a wide variety of pergola ideas around and the best idea is to search the web for images.  You can create your pillars from stone and concrete for an ancient grand look, or alternatively you can use wooden posts.

Bougainvillea 'Traditional' Pergola

The idea behind the pergola though is to cover it with either a lush green vine or one that will explode into flower at spring.  Some popular plants to use are the Bougainvillea, Jasmine, and Grapes.  That stated, many modern pergolas are not covered with any vine, and are just left as a bare wooden structure.

In addition the modern pergolas do not lead anywhere, as their historical predecessors did.  They are also often square and purely decorative.

Whichever option you choose, both can be made to suit any type of house, home and back garden.

A pretty white arbor from Shop Garden Max in the USA

The Arbor

Now we will look at the Arbor, which is very similar to the pergola, however is not usually very large.  Often an arbor will be a decorative small feature, such as an entranceway to the garden, or will be used  as a feature over a small swing.

The arbor is most commonly now used as an archway which is created by interlaced trellis so that the vines can grow up and over it.  Arbors can be purchased whole or made.  Most of the common modern varieties are made out of metal, though if you are making one yourself, you can achieve beautiful results with wood.

As with the pergola, the arbor is often left naked of the vines it was originally built to support, but with the beautiful creations around, they are quite a feature on their own.

The Gazebo

Modern Gazebo from Gni Delhi a Gazebo manufacturer in India. This is the one for me!

Finally we come at last to the gazebo.  This is more of a pavilion structure and the key difference between these and the arbor and pergola is that their roof is solid, so that it provides some protection from the elements.  They are traditionally octagonal in shape with all the sides open to the garden, allowing those inside a 360 degree view of the garden.

Quite often in Australia you will find a large gazebo in a park, with steps leading up to it, and benches around the inside walls for patrons of the park to sit and look out on the comings and goings of others.  As a child I can remember playing in these.

Like all the structures the gazebo has undergone modification which has seen many variations, including that many are now square, but like the traditional ones, all still have open sides and a solid roof, though you are likely to find curtains attached to make them even more beautiful.

Photo courtesy of Ann J P

Recently in Spain a number of research tests were conducted by the Universidad de Valencia and the University of Tasmania to determine how much ultra violet (UV) radiation passed through a beach umbrella to the recipient below.  The tests involved placing a UV sensor in the shade of the umbrella and recording the UV readings.  The results showed that only 4 percent of UV passed through the umbrella. In any other test 96 percent would have been considered a great result, but in this case the answer is no.

The reason is that UV exposure is not only measured by what we experience directly, but that which is reflected or scattered by air molecules can decrease our 96 percent result down to 66 percent. Which means we are still at risk.

Putting up sun shades in your back garden are a fantastic way to greatly reduce the amount of UV exposure and are strongly recommended.  However it is also important to note that while a sun shade will be bigger than an umbrella, it is unlikely to provide full protection to your family.  Always put on sun screen, wear a t-shirt and a hat even when staying in the shade in order to protect yourself and your family from harmful UV.

More information on this report which was run as a news story ‘Beach shades will not keep off the sun’s deadly rays” in the Daily Mirror, UK can be found on the English National Health Service website.

For a range of Sun Shades to see the DIY Bargain Bin Pergolas, Gazebos and Sun Shades section.