Thinking About Installing a Shade Sail?


Shade sails are a convenient and aesthetically pleasing way to enjoy good weather without direct exposure to the sun. If you’re thinking of installing a shade sail in your garden, there are key points you need to consider.


Installation of shade sails

Your shade sail will be affixed to posts (three, four or more, depending on the shape of the sail). It could also be anchored to a solid structure such as an exterior wall (consult a structural engineer to check that the existing structure isn’t weakened by the additional strain from wind).

If you’re attaching a sail to posts, galvanised steel posts are recommended over wooden ones. Posts should be embedded in concrete footings, which are square holes (most manufacturers specify 40 cm x 40 cm). The depth of these footings increases the longer the post. If, for example, your posts are 5 metres long, each footing will be 120 cm deep.

A gravel bed should be added to the base of each footing. Where the ground is soft, a 10 cm deep layer of concrete should be left to set prior to adding the gavel bed. You can then position the posts, which should slope away from the centre of the sail at a 5˚ angle. Once positioned, you can add the required amount of concrete.


Don’t assume that all shade sails provide protection from the sun. Being in the shade doesn’t mean that you’re away from harmful UV rays. Even if the fabric of your sail blocks a high percentage of UV rays, you may still need to apply sunscreen to your skin.

Upkeeping your shade sail

Some manufacturers describe their shade sails as permanent structures, which suggests that they are designed to be outside throughout the entire year. However, most shade sails aren’t waterproof and aren’t designed to withstand gusty storms. If you want to prolong the life of your sail, think about the convenience (or inconvenience) of detaching it from its posts and then storing it somewhere dry.

You’ll certainly want to clear leaves and debris from time to time. Think about the most effective way of going about this. Ask the retailer about mould and moss protection too, as this might become an issue. 

Ease of use

Once it’s up, it’s up! As long as you have installed your shade sail according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you won’t need to fumble around with fastenings or positioning.

And in normally windy conditions, you won’t have the hassle of stabilising your sail as you would with a parasol. You could say it’s plain sailing …

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