Umbrellas, and pergolas and sun blocking, oh my!
May 15, 2020 1:47 PM   Subscribe

We recently moved interstate and have a 2 year lease on a house in the Washington, DC area with a great deck and backyard. We also have 7.5mo old twins. And it's maybe, finally, about to be eventually warm enough to be outside on a regular basis (well, except for ALL of next week, arrrggghh) . Give us your non-destructive shade advice!

We would like to make more use of the deck and backyard, but while my husband and I have many wonderful qualities, melanin is not one of them. We have very very white babies. Even with sunblock and hats and clothing, we need some (non-permanent, easy to deploy, won't fall over if touched by a crawling baby) shade. Every review I look at for sun umbrellas says they fall over if you breathe on them. Since it's a rental, we can't be doing anything permanent out there, but also need baby-safe and wind safe shade. What's your advice re affordable umbrellas or pop up tents or something else? Also, because COVID, trial and error DIY is probably not in the cards. If you have a time tested hacky solution, though, we're all ears.
(We have some handmedown deck furniture, including table/chairs with umbrella, but we need some play on a blanket kind of shade)
posted by atomicstone to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if you could figure out a temporary yet sturdy tentpole solution, but when I had a new extremely sunny deck with a slatted roof suitable for a trellis, and small, pale kids, I topped the roof with shadecloth from a garden center for a couple of years, until the vines grew. I'm wondering if you could set up something using grommets and rope to lash to tentpoles. Shadecloth or even awning cloth would probably work. If there is an adjacent structure, perhaps use that as one edge of the shade. It would probably be sturdier that way, but would probably still need to be taken down in bad or very windy weather.
posted by citygirl at 2:10 PM on May 15

A 12 x 12 farmer's market like tent would be ok if you stake it down well, or tie good weights to the corners. Ours was around $200 at Costco.
posted by advicepig at 2:40 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]

If you get the heavy steel plate bases, umbrellas don't fall over that easily.

Consider getting a good non-flimsy 10x10 or 12x12 pop-up, plus sandbags to hold it down, and if you don't find a set with 1-4 walls get at least 2 walls, so you can move them as needed for sun angle shading. Get one of the white ones, or a gray one if you can find it, rather than blue as it may prompt neighborhood complaints about tarps if you're in that kind of neighborhood.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:42 PM on May 15

Until I got a more permanent solution, I was very happy with my Offset / Cantilevered Patio Umbrella. They're more stable than they look like they should be. The base is filled with water bags, and you can add weights on top of the base if it feels 'tippy'.
posted by hydra77 at 2:47 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]

I have 2 umbrellas on my deck, both in tables as well as a stand. They sail off or over in high wind, but are otherwise stable. You can buy freestanding wooden structures with slats, or add canvas or tent fabric for shade. Home Depot, Lowe's, Big Lots, etc. A cheap camping pop-uo tent is fun for babies.
posted by theora55 at 2:50 PM on May 15

We had a popup tent that the kids loved. Also a popup beach cabana.
posted by at at 5:26 PM on May 15

I bought a cantilevered umbrella just a few weeks ago and the base is supported by 4 50lb. water "bricks." I walked full into it the other day and it didn't even wiggle.
posted by cooker girl at 6:02 PM on May 15

Get a sun sail (goggle the term) that attaches to the roof and the decking.If you need it to shed water better or lack attachment points get one of those shaped big group camping tarps designed for kitchen areas that are made of super lightweight materials and allow you to rig them various ways. REI has some, so do Kelty, Nemo, MSR etc. This is not an ugly blue tarp, it'll look like a small event shade tent.
posted by fshgrl at 9:24 PM on May 15

Take a look at portable gazebos.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:52 AM on May 16

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