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Creating a large shaded area, affordably

 
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Hi,
this is my first posting on the site, but i have been following it while searching for a property. I hope its in the correct place, i searched around and this seemed as close as anything.

I just bought a property in Southern Arizona and obviously it is going to get hot soon, really hot. So I am looking to build a shaded area to park a trailer under and have some work space (I'm thinking like an outdoor work shop). I would like to shade at least 30'x30', but the closer to 60'x60' I can get the better. More shade around is always welcome out here. I will first be parking a travel trailer under the shade but i want to build a partially sunken earthbag dome under the shade once it starts to cool off again this fall. But because the climate here is great for being outdoors most of the year, I am shooting for most of the living space being outdoors and under the shade with just a tiny house to get out of bad weather and sleep in.

My current thinking is to make concrete post like they use in vineyards and string high tension wire in a grid pattern between the post, just like in a vineyard but in a grid. Then I will tightly stretch billboard vinyl over the post and wire rope and contact cement the edges to the wire rope on the outside. After I am thinking about running chicken wire over the vinyl and then another set of wire rope. This chicken wire and wire rope on top will keep it from flapping in the wind which seems to be a major cause of rips and tears. To finish this off I am thinking about a heavy coat of rubberized roof paint to protect the tarp from UV and "tie" the tarp and chicken wire together. I also thought about a really, really thin layer of ferro cement to protect the tarp and stop it from flapping.

I have previously used shade clothe sandwhiched between chicken wire to cover a smaller garden, and the shade clothe lasted 3 years until we moved and it looked good as new. Prior to the sandwhiching process i couldnt get shade clothe to last more than maybe 6 months before it would start developing holes.

If anyone has any experience doing something similar i would like to hear. I am also open to alternative suggestions. But with the cost of lumber right now, i would like to stay away from traditionally framed wood structures. and there is no buildable lumber in sight down here so i cant take it off the property. I could build a cactus fence but nothing with wood.

My other idea is cheap high tunnel greenhouses lined up in a row with shade clothe or a tarp over each one and a door in the middle to cross between them without going in the sun.



 
pollinator
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Affordability is a relative matter, how do you define your requirement?

I use commercial grade shade sales , and layout the posts to suit the shade sale.
I use steel posts set in concrete and leaning back at about 10 degrees and aligned to the shape of the shade sale.
I fit springs into the tensioning cables at each posts, to absorb wind shocks.
They never tear and have lasted 15 years.
 
David Robinson
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Thank you John,

I didn't know sunshades lasted that long and thought they typically lasted only a season or two. I will look into this option with springs. I imagine it looks similar to the picture I posted, they are using this idea at burning man, as a light weight easy to install shade option.

I know affordability is tough to define.
Let's say I wanted to create 30x30 shaded area for less than $2000.00 US.  I won't be at the property full time until the fall, but I would like to start spending time out there and working on little projects .

here is an article on making concrete poles from sustainable agriculture research and education, in case anyone reads this and is interested. https://projects.sare.org/sare_project/fnc07-684/
they were much cheaper than wood and stronger. They spaced concrete poles at 30 ft for their testing. I would put them closer but also make them taller, so there would be a tradeoff there.

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John C Daley
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No, like this;
shade sale, leaning posts
 
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I hear what you're saying about wind - preventing flapping will help hugely. I read somewhere about mixing cement and latex and it hardening into a solid roof. This link might give you a start on researching it, although it's not the place I read about it originally: https://www.instructables.com/Latex-Concrete-Roof/  
Good luck at finding an option you like!
 
John C Daley
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I have seen that style of roofing used. Particularly where a waterproof membrane is wanted.

I am not sure how much wind it can take.

I think from your description my suggestion may be more economical and faster to install compared with the latex concrete.
 
pollinator
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60x60 is HUGE for a shade sail structure.  That will take SUBSTANTIAL anchors from wind.  How tall? How many interior support posts can you handle?

Used circus tent?
 
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John Daley's shade sail link reminds me of one characteristic that can greatly improve the life of a fabric structure, namely a warped surface. Flapping is a big concern for you, and a tarp that is supported in a single plane (tilted or not) will sag uniformly by nature, and thus be able to "sag upward" if wind gets under it. There is no practical way around this movement for useful sizes of tarp.

However, if the surface is supported unevenly such as one pair of opposite corners being high and the other pair being low, the surface will assume a warped shape and have very little room to move up or down. Also, rain will naturally run off toward the low corners and have no place to pond.

If you ultimately want a 60' x 60' shaded area, you could start with a 30' x 30' square of posts, three say 15' high and one 6' high (all suitably braced with guys in appropriate directions.) Stretch a tarp, or weave a cable web and cover with whatever material you desire, between these posts, and you will have a non-flapping roof that will drain to the one low corner. Repeat this as you have time and resources until you have a 60 x 60 space with low outer corners and high space through the middle. Each successive frame would require fewer new posts. This would end with one post in the middle of the space and several around the edges.
 
David Robinson
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Thanks everyone.

I am looking into the shade sails. I have seen the clothe roofs that are stretched in to parabolic shapes, normally called tensile structures to eliminate flapping, but i dont think a billboard vinyl really works for these because it doesnt stretch and cant be pulled tight enough. The shape probably helps some but stretch is important also The sun sails are a good example, they have a little stretch so that you can tighten them down and avoid flapping. a normal tarp or billboard vinyl doesnt stretch and so they are difficult to really get tight and avoid flapping.

I guess I should have clarified that the 60x60 or even 30x30 doesnt have to be 1 structure, it can be a series of structures that are next to each other. So multiple shade sails overlaping each other is an option i am looking into.

I noticed some military surplus tents are cheap, and should be durable. I saw a 52'x18' for $1400. shipping would probably be another $500 or so, but its a large area for under $2k. So Im looking into these right now also.  I think the roof was 12' so I could park a small trailer under it and unroll the sides to get a large shaded area.

But I'm still always open to new ideas, so keep em coming.
 
pollinator
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I'm going to keep an eye on this thread, as I've been thinking about buying land in that part of the country (still debating about it), and was wondering what to do for shade for a travel trailer, also.

One thing I think I would do is get a water tank (or multiple) and arrange that shade shelter to catch water from your summer rains.  The biggest thing against moving to that area, for me, is the water situation -- I really don't want to live where I have to truck water in.  Been there, done that.  You have the possibility of catching a significant amount of water to have on hand before you even move out there, which would be a big advantage.

 
pollinator
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Latex concrete roof structures are quick, easy, cheap, DIY, and basically permanent.  VelaCreations has a good article about some he has built with instructions.

VelaCreations latex concrete roof
 
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When I have been down in Mexico, I see many patio covers made similar to a junk pole fence being horizontal rather than vertical.

These covers are made from something like yucca bloom stalks.  Do you have those available?  I tried to find a picture without success.
 
pollinator
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This sounds like what you're looking for!

If you alternate the thick & thin ends of the yucca poles you could potentially get them closer together and still relatively straight. dead ocotillo stems would seem to work too.
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John C Daley
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How do you define a 'cheap' roof structure?
what are your parameters and values please?
 
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Hey

I might first test to see whether your soil has a layer of caliche (calicum) below ground, if so Id hack it out, and dig a north to south crescent moon shape about 40 feet long, Id dig down about 2 to 3 feet and make it narrow as possible, about 18 to 24 inches wide and start creating a concentration of compost and assorted organic matter down there, just about anything to absorb moisture. Keep a pair of rabbits to poop for you and keep dumping in their manure down there  (or a couple mini goats).   Try some temporary alliances with local city folks and get their household, supermarket and restaurant waste and get it down there and keep at it.  Id try a scattergun effect of planting a variety of hot weather arid country trees down in that crevasse, the STAR DESERT PERFORMERS such as:  pigeon pea, leucaenia, huisache, 3 subspecies of mesquite, some Australian Wattles and African Acacias, figs and Jujube, and even possibly try some elephant grass, close spacing, as there will be some winners and some losers. I think that although it may be a slow process you could use the crevasse to nursery some tough trees with deep root systems that will provide the shade you need. That crevasse could be further turned into a microclimate nursery with some additional shading with palate wood.  I did a few experiments in Pecos County, TX along those lines and had some small success, though I could not see the project through to its end.  But I think its worth a try in your environment and those practices yielded the best results.
 
Michael Littlejohn
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What about some surplus masts and sails off sailboats offered for parts (usually they have no title) . Set a number of them in tandem and let them work against a weight and a pully, perhaps a small automotive tire  as the counterweight. Your shade would therefore be a little variable but always correct to the original position in a light or no wind.  It would also be a striking visual.

An enhanced idea is to mount your sails like a vertical axis windmill, which would always provide shade no matter how fast or slow it spun.  If it seems doable, try attaching a generator to it next year and now you have power. Make your shade double as your energy source.  Two  or 3 sails mounted around a pvc pipe spinning around a slightly smaller diameter iron pipe anchored to the ground might do it.  (Ground it for your protection against lightning strike.)  Scale it up and use the drive train of a car or truck.

If you go with something like a canvas tarp instead of poly-sails, that Arizona sun will eventually rot it out, but no matter, when you replace it, you could use the old tarp as a sheet mulch and pierce it when you want to plant some plant life.

 
Anne Miller
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I live where it is very windy, usually 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 25 or more somedays.

Our hunters have an older trailer, 2001 36 ft long.  They bought a truck tarp, like is used for covering loads. It is strapped down with straps in about 5 places. the straps go completely over the trailer so they are long. The tarp is constantly flapping in the breeze.

The other bad thing about the tarp is that when it rains water pools on the cover since it is about 2 - 3 feet above the trailer roof.  This was done for ventilation and so that the fans can operate properly.

This tarp is probably 40 x 20 so it drapes over the sides.

I just thought our experience might be helpful.
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