The Florida sun killed the first round of seedlings I planted this summer, teaching me that a shade cover for the garden is an absolute necessity in this climate. My raised garden beds are 10ft square which is pretty large (they were here when I moved in otherwise I would have made them narrower) so I decided to do flat topped covers rather than the arched ones I’ve done in the past.
I ordered shade cloth online – a 10ft x 20ft sheet will give me enough to cover two beds. You can order it in different strengths but since my plants will need SOME sun to grow I got the one that only blocks 40% of the sun.
The frame was very easy to build out of PVC pipe. For this tutorial I’m going to pretend like I used 3/4″ PVC for the whole thing. In reality I used 1/2″ for the legs because I had some on hand. It takes 4 10ft lengths for the rails and two 10ft lengths for the legs. I cut each 10ft length in half (5ft) for the rails and in quarters (2.5ft) for the legs. Because my garden isn’t a perfect 10ft square, after I cut my 5ft lengths I took them and the connecting pieces out to the garden and measured how much additional I’d have to cut off to make it fit. The connectors eat up a bit of length and I wanted the frame to fit snugly within the wood sides of the raised bed so I marked the lengths to fit, rather than using math.
Once everything was cut I snapped the pieces together with the connectors. I didn’t glue anything because I want to be able to take the frame apart to store it when not in use. Also, by being able to take it apart I can cut longer leg pieces in the future if I want to use it with taller plants (right now it’ll only work for short, young plants.
Now what makes this cover really neat is how the fabric is attached to the frame. At first I just used short bungee cords to secure it at the corners and midway down each side. This held it on great but it was hard to remove the cover to actually work in the garden. The solution? Shower curtain rings!
I used shower curtain rings to attach the shade cloth along two “sides” and then used the short bungies only on the “front” and “back”. After detaching the bungies on the front its easy to slide the shade cloth all the way back to the middle of the bed (where I have a walkway of tiles) to access that half of the garden. I made my legs short enough that its easy to step or lean over them, but tall enough that if I sit on the ground outside the garden I can reach under, so I can garden in whatever position is comfortable and easily reach all parts of the garden.
Materials- for one 10’x 10′ shade cover
- 6 10ft lengths of 3/4″ PVC pipe
- 4 T connectors
- 4 corner elbows
- 10ft x 10ft sheet of shade cloth
- small bungees
- at least 10 shower curtain rings