Outdoor Shade Fabric: What Fabric to Use

If you have decided to add some outdoor shade fabric to your yard, it is important to choose the right fabric covering to suit your needs. Below are a few tips and things to consider getting started.

The Climate

If you live in a southern climate with long periods of harsh, direct sunlight, you may want to choose a canvas fabric that is treated with a vinyl covering to protect the material from deteriorating too quickly from sun damage. A good option here that began in the 1990s is a sun sail or outdoor shade sails, made from a material that can reduce temperatures by up to 35 percent and UV rays by up to 90 percent.
If you are living in milder climate and do not need to worry about extreme direct sunlight, a simple canvas will work just perfectly. It will still shade you but will allow some light to filter through as well.


Different fabrics are harder to clean than others. This is especially true for outdoor fabrics if you plan on installing it so that it can’t be easily removed. If you don’t plan on taking your fabric down to clean it, be sure to use something like vinyl that can be spray washed with a hose. Also, things like leaves can discolor certain fabrics, such as canvas, so choose your fabric carefully if there are trees nearby.

Shading Areas with Plants

Many people utilize potted plants on their patio and elsewhere. When using many common outdoor fabrics like canvas, you run the risk of hurting your plants through lack of sunlight. A solution to this is to use a knitted shade cloth that provides general shade while letting in enough light for your plants. Also, it won’t interfere too much with rainfall, if you rely on the rain for some of your watering.