Shade sails and structures have become a familiar part of the Australian landscape as more and more homeowners look for a more permanent and environmentally-friendly solution to keep their outdoor areas shaded from harsh UV rays. Shade sails present an affordable and better alternative to patio covers, gazebos, umbrellas, and pergolas. They are durable, require little maintenance, and are an effective way to cover large outdoor areas permanently and safely. The beautiful designs and colours of shade sails serve the dual purpose of protection from the sun while enhancing the aesthetic beauty of gardens and homes. With the continuing depletion of the ozone layer, adequate outdoor shade has become a necessity, not a luxury, and shade sails allow you to enjoy the outdoors without worrying about sun exposure.

Choosing the right type of shade sail design and layout is very important for maximum effectiveness. They can be installed in a variety of ways:

– Horizontally or flat, with all corners at the same height;
– Vertically like a fence;
– At slants and angles with overlapping sail flaps
– A twist effect where some corners are higher and some are lower.

While horizontal sails may be uninteresting to look at, a vertical sail will catch more wind and produce heavier loads. The most visually appealing setting involves two or more sails with dramatic differences in elevations between the corners. The more difference in the heights of the various posts used, the more dramatic the final effect will be. Allowing posts to lean backward by 5 – 10 degrees will give the design a nautical feeling.

Below are some tips for the perfect shade sail design:

Plan the Position and Layout of the Installation
Before you start, check whether there are any building regulations required by the local authorities and check a map of the underground services with the local utility company before installing support posts.


– The very first thing to do is decide on the most suitable location and the final design of the project. Select the best position for the shade by factoring in the position of the sun at different times of the day. Because a shade sail structure is a permanent fixture, the shade will change position in relation to the east to west movement of the sun.

– Existing structures like trees, posts, a fence or a wall can be used instead of posts as attachment points.

– The direction and speed of the wind in the location will also have to be taken into consideration. It is best to set up the shade in a position that will not be affected too much by wind motion.

– For safety, make sure that the shade sail is not placed too close to the barbecue area as open flames could be a risk. Barbecues should not be used under shade sail structures as the flames and fumes can damage the fabric and even cause a fire.

– Draw up a diagram and make note of the following:

• overall size of the area;
• the size of the sail/s;
• the strength of existing structures you intend to use as anchor points;
• areas that are safe to dig holes for mounting posts.
• path tracking
• sun direction
• typical wind speeds in your area
• other factors that pertain to your particular situation


Once the location has been identified it is time to determine the most suitable points for mounting the corners and deciding on the size of the sail/s compared to the mounting points. If you plan on using existing mounting points like a large branch on a tree, a wall, or any other structure, makes sure that it is strong and structurally sound. This is a critical stage of installation and if you are unsure it is better to get professional advice from an engineer, a builder, or a shade sail installation company.

If there are not enough existing fixing points you can install additional posts. Holes for posts must be deep enough to accommodate at least one-third of the length of the posts used. Pavers in the bottom of the holes will provide a solid base to hold the ends of the posts and a bolt can be installed to secure it to the ground. After pouring the concrete, wait at least 2 days for it to cure before setting up the shade sail.

Shade Sails | Cool Solutions


Allow a space between the anchor point and the corner of the sail to accommodate fabric stretch and hardware tensioning which is approximately 10%. For example, for a shade sail size of 120 inches, allow an extra 12 inches to provide an additional 6 inches for tensioning and 6 inches for fabric stretch on each side of the shade sail. This will ensure enough room to tension the shade sail properly.


An extensive range of fixing accessories are available to secure shade sails and these will most likely be supplied by the company that supplied the shade sail equipment, but they are also readily available at your local hardware store.

Once you have correctly installed your new shade sail structure in the design and colour you have chosen, you can enjoy the permanent shade under a beautiful structure that will last for at least ten years.