Monthly Archives

October 2016

Setting up an outdoor patio

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Just because you purchase a shade structure does not mean that your job is done. There are many things one can do to make sure those who are using the area enjoy themselves. The design elements that you will want to focus on implementing will depend largely on what kind of property the structure and patio is for. Commercial, residential, public/education, will all demand different needs and different goals.

Residential properties, mainly meaning homes and some apartments, will want to focus on several things. Firstly, the seating should be mainly closer together, with only a few chairs set apart. The seating should consist of both benches and chairs. Pew style benches will hold far more people for the room they take up, and loveseats are good for a balance between chairs and pew-style. The material for the seating can depend on the style of the house, comfort, and durability wanted. A grated plastic or metal will hold up in extreme weather, but metal will tend to be less comfortable than something plastic. Treated wood also tends to be more comfortable and combines well with certain aesthetics, but will not be as likely to last very long. But regardless of the type of material you use, for residential patios it is recommended to use outdoor pillows. A few tables are also good to create an area for people to gather around, and encourages outdoor grilling. Plants are also something that works great to create ambience. The shading used could be an awning, or to cover more space (if the patio is not attached to the home) a pavilion.

Commercial buildings (offices, restaurants, bars, and more), are going to need more tables, as the guests using the patio will likely consist of several independent groups. Benches can still be used to maximize seating, but the materials that work best will be metal seating to make sure they last. Additional items that complement the patio should be things that cannot be stolen easily. This means that pillows are generally not something that should be used, and any plants should be planted in the ground instead of in above ground pots. Commercial buildings should also plan for cigarette smokers being the main people that use the area, meaning plenty of ashtrays or disposal bins. The visitors are also less likely to care about keeping the area clean, which means you need to make sure you keep it easy to dispose of trash. Same rules for residential for shading, awnings can work great for attached patios. But individual tables could instead use small shades attached to the tables, or for maximum shade you could use a large shade structure to cover the entire area.

Publicly owned areas, as well education areas, should have patios very similar to those of the commercial buildings. It should consist of multiple benches and tables. You want them be to be comfortable and accommodate everyone who may come into contact with them as they will be used by a wide range of people. It is very important to have some form of shade set up with these patio areas as they are often used for resting or relaxing outdoors for a period of time. Also make sure you are using a comfortable material that won’t get too hot and burn someone skin just for sitting on it, but will also hold up with lots of wear and tear.

Using Shade to Increase Plant Growth and Variety for Gardens

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No matter the plant, they will always use photosynthesis as one of their main forms of nutrition. Plants however do not all have the same needs for sunlight. If they did, they would only grow in wide open plains. But as we know, many plants grow great in low-sunlight conditions. And especially in areas like Texas where the climate tends to lean more towards high heat and heavy sunlight, more sun isn’t always more success for your garden. Think of how many plants grow fine beneath the canopy of forests.

The effects and benefits of shade on plant growth is numerous.

One, in some climates water is not the limiting factor, in others it is. Either way, it can play out well to have low sunlight. If the growth does not depend upon water, it is likely less energy will be needed from sun. If there is limited water, for some plants it is best to have shade to conserve water. But this all depends on the type of plant. If the plant you want to grow is not perfect for your climate because of an inability from the plant to tolerate heat, shade is an important part of keeping the plant cool. In fact, many vines will actually tend to grow away from the sun, and some plants have leaves that actively avoid the light. Something to keep in mind is that regardless of the shade-tolerant plant, if they grow beneath canopies they likely need to have access to nutrient rich soil. This is because the trees above will drop leaves, leaving behind rich soil that is essentially compost from the leaves decay. One of the benefits that help humans is that many plants actually cool down the air. They do this through transpiring to help growth, but this effect is a great multiplier when doubled with shade to cool down an area.

What types of plants are shade tolerant?

There are many vegetables that should be grown in shade to protect them from 95F+ temperatures. Young peach and apple trees, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers will all benefit from shade. Anything over 110F will start to cause the very quick death of these plants. To protect these plants, you may plant sunflowers or sunchokes on the west side of the garden to protect them from above and from the side. Among herbs and flowers, if you would like to protect the environment, bees would thank you for planting dead nettles. With the impending bee crisis, dead nettles remain the one plant that bees love to pollinate and having this means they also will pollinate your other flowers! Help the environment, the bees and yourself by planting dead nettles. Parsley, lemon balm and wild ginger can be used to cook with. Impatiens are a beautiful dark purple color on their leaves, and have beautiful bright white and pink flowers that grow off of them.

Close up of a scrubbing brush

Tips to help you Maintain your Shade Structure

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A shade structure is considered a smart investment in a home or property because of its numerous benefits which include adding aesthetic appeal, protection against the elements, enhancing ventilation, and reducing energy consumption. Shade structures come in different sizes, shapes and fabrics, and most fabrics come with a manufacturer warranty of 10 years or so. The warranty normally covers UV degradation and the sun, but it’s your responsibility to maintain your structure and prevent all other types of damage.

A shade structure is a fairly large investment, so what should you do to make sure yours stays in top shape as long as possible? Below we’ve put together 8 tips that will help you get started and prolong the life of your shade for years to come.

Avoid Using Strong Detergents

Always use a mild detergent to clean and remove stains from your shade. Powerful detergents with harsh chemicals such as sulfur and chlorine should be avoided at all cost because they can easily discolor or disfigure your shade fabric.

Check the Condition of the Fabric, Posts, and Anchor Points

It’s important to check your fabric for signs of stains, patches and other weakness, as spotting signs of wear early on can help you prevent the damage from spreading and making your shade sail unattractive. When examining the edge of the fabric, look for signs of frays and stretches and make sure the posts holding your shade fabric remain strong and firmly on the ground. Any signs of wobbling should be fixed immediately.

Prune nearby shrubs and trees

Trees and shrubs closer to your shade sail should be pruned regularly to prevent them from scratching or damaging your shade fabric.

Make sure the shade sail is properly installed

This should be done using the right tools as instructed in the manual. You can also get help from a professional shade sail installer.

Take down the sail when not in use

Shade structures are designed to withstand various outdoor weather conditions, including sun, wind and rain. However, during the winter when the shade is not in use, it’s advisable to take it down to prevent damage that may be caused by strong winds, snow or storms.


Shades should also be cleaned periodically using a garden hose. Proper cleaning can go a long way to increase the life of your shade sail and ensure it stays clear of hard to remove stains.

Keep a safe distance from fire

Since shade structures are generally made from materials that aren’t fire retardant, it’s always a safe idea to keep it away from any fire sources, such as grills, fire pits, or any other heat source beneath it.

Come up with a maintenance schedule

Your shade structure should be inspected regularly to ensure that it stays in good condition at all times. The tension should also be checked and the turnbuckles tightened to prevent it from hanging loose or falling off. One way to do this effectively is reading the manufacturer’s product maintenance guide, or by having a professional take a look at it for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; shade structure maintenance is extremely important for getting the most value out of your purchase!