How to Choose the Right Shade Cloth for Your Plants

Australian weather conditions can be pretty harsh. Thankfully, shade cloth is a durable, knitted or woven material that can be used to protect against the sun’s rays and harsh elemental exposure.

Though it has multiple uses from dust containment to outdoor advertising, shade cloth is popular amongst gardeners. It is an inexpensive and effective way to tailor gardening conditions and ensure a fruitful harvest. The cloth can last for years – and this means long-term protection against too much sun or rain, drying winds, mildew, frost or chemicals. In addition, shade cloth comes in a range of colours to suit the theme and style of any yard.
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How Can Shade Cloth Be Used In A Garden?

Plants need the sun to grow and flourish, but different varieties have unique light and heat preferences. For relief from summer heat, and to control the amount of light penetration, you can hang shade cloth over freestanding covers, ferneries or pergolas. For smaller spaces, shade cloth can be used to create shade houses also – raised garden beds with solid arching, covered with shade cloth. Alternatively, you can use shade cloth more sparingly to suit; drape it over individual pots or self-made structures, or wrap the cloth around stakes or piping.

Shade cloth is available in a range of UV stabilised densities so you can choose how much sun your covered plants receive. Most retailers offer densities of 30 per cent, 50 per cent, 70 per cent and 90 per cent. The 70 per cent cloth is great for covering pergolas and gazebos; 30 per cent is also popular to encourage plant growth.

How do I choose the right shade cloth for gardening?

Depending on the environment, your space and types of greenery, you may want to research different types of shade cloth. To see what variations are available, read below. Please note this is a rough guide; we suggest you seek advice from local nurseries about ideal sun exposure of your favourite plants as well.

  • Knitted shade cloth: This shade cloth, made from lightweight polyethylene, features a longer lifespan and is easy to install. It can withstand horticultural chemicals and is UV resistant.
  • Woven shade cloth: This shade cloth has less stretch than knitted shade cloth, but is UV stabilised to withstand the harshest rays.
  • Aluminet shade cloth: Made from high-density polyethylene, this type of shade cloth is typically used to moderate greenhouse temperatures. It reflects unwanted heat in the daytime but keeps plants warm when the temperature dips. It also repels insects and frost.

What is a density percentage?

Shade cloth is knitted or woven to permit a certain amount of sun penetration. In addition to the level of UV protection you need, consider which percentage of sun blockage is best for the plants in your backyard.

  • 30 per cent to 60 per cent: Mostly used for vegetables, fruit trees, and nurseries.
  • 70 per cent: Often used in greenhouses. Also suitable for sheltering livestock from some sun.
  • 90 per cent: Provides adequate shade for field workers, animals and ornamental plants. Also helpful as ground cover to inhibit weed growth.

The team at Site Shade supplies various types of shade cloth across Australia. To purchase some for your garden today, contact them on 1300 721 663.