Shade cloth is a lightweight fabric that has tiny holes throughout. Some sunlight and water are able to go through shade cloth, yet it keeps plants safe from high temperatures and hot sun so they do not burn or dry up.
The shade cloth in the picture above is offered by Agfabric and it can be used in small or large gardens and greenhouses. It can be purchased here.
Shade cloth is inexpensive, reusable and is used in the garden or placed over greenhouses. Gardeners in hot regions need to make shade cloth structures to keep crops and some flowers from scalding in the hot sun.
Types Of Shade Cloth
Find shade cloth at your local home and garden store. It comes in various weights, colors and made of different materials like polyethylene, aluminum and netting. Some is so light it can easily be draped over plants in the garden without causing harm.
Some is very dense and stops UV rays from reaching plants.
Shade cloths used for greenhouses usually come with grommets on the edge to attach it to the greenhouse. Other types come on rolls or bolts and are cut to their need.
Lightweight knitted shade cloth is suitable for greenhouses and woven shade cloth is used right in the garden. Check the grade to see the percentage of sun’s rays certain shade clothes protect as it can be from 5% to 75%.
How To Use Shade Cloth In A Garden!
Place stakes or fiberglass/poly hoops to make a framework for shade cloth in garden rows. Drape the shade cloth over the frame and attach it so it stays put.
You will need about 2 to 3 feet so that air can enter the tent you make and give plants the right air circulation. The shade cloth should never sit right on the plants especially if it has a dark color, but light colored or white shade cloth can be placed closer to the plants. It reflects heat away while the dark tends to pull heat more.
Make sacks of shade cloth to put around fruit on branches and tie the sacks to the branch.
If you do not want to cover entire rows, make a trellis from wood, branches or PVC pipe on the south and west ends of the garden and hang shade cloth from it.
How To Make Your Own!
It is possible to make your own shade cloth out of things you have around your house. Be aware that commercial shade cloth does not cost much and is worth the purchase. It is made especially for protecting plants. If you want to make your own, here is how to do it:
- Use white sheets and staple them to wooden stakes set throughout the garden to protect from the sun. The white color will reflect heat away from the plants.
- Use dense layers of nylon netting in the same manner.
- Erect a frame around and over top of the crop and use lattice or old screens to cover. Make sure the top is several feet above the plant.
- Use brown paper lunch bags and secure them around clusters of fruit, like grapes. Staple or tape the opening closed over the branch.
- Use umbrellas attached to stakes to shade your plants. Those that raise dahlias to show use this method effectively.
Shade Cloth is readily available in most garden centers and works very well to shade plants from extreme heat. The shade cloth should allow suitable air circulation and water penetration.