Backyard Garden Tour – Shade Project

Our front yard and side yard get lots of shade from our big pine trees, but our back yard gets very little shade. The concrete retaining walls also seem to magnify the heat back there, making it unbearably hot at times. To make the backyard more comfortable, we came up with a plan to make more available shade.

All of the garden structures (seen here) will eventually be covered with the climbing roses, providing some shaded areas. The wooden pergola also has some shade fabric on the top to provide shade where the shade from the fig tree ends. The rest of the garden needs some serious shade fabric, but it is not something we wanted covering the garden all the time. I wanted to make sure that the birds and other wildlife are still able to access the garden, without being blocked by shade fabric. I also wanted to make sure that the roses, vegetables and fruit trees get the full sun that they need. We decided that we would install a shade fabric system where the fabric is on cables and has a pulley system so it can be drawn over temporarily when we want some extra shade, and pulled out of the way the rest of the time.

My husband came up with the plan to attach one end of the fabric system to the house and the other end to some poles behind the wooden fence. He put the wooden fence in front of the concrete retaining wall because the retaining wall was dangerously low in some areas, and I was afraid our son (or one of our pets) would climb over the low wall and fall off the cliff on the other side. The soffits on our roof were in really bad shape and need to be replaced anyway, so he tore them off so he would be able to attach into the area. It looks pretty awful temporarily.


The big gazebo was not part of the original plan (he wanted to build a gazebo in that area but I felt that would take too long since he has so many other projects). Therefore, he wasn’t able to calculate the height of the gazebo into the equation. So in order to let the fabric go over the top of the gazebo, he had to extend the height of the poles. Doing that added so much weight that the fence then had to be reinforced.


My husband added these funny looking (for now) beams along the fence to support the extra weight of the super high poles. To appease me for how strange they look, he promised me that eventually he will make some little tiered shelves on them so I can prominently display some of my favorite potted plants. I think it will look really cute once it is actually finished.

Over part of E’s garden, he installed shade fabric with a 30% light reduction. It has less light reduction than the fabric we selected for the pulley system, so I was okay with it being left up all the time. He tied that fabric into the fence and house. We eventually plan to create a bit of shade over the rest of E’s garden with some climbing vines reaching over the area, but the pergola in that area needs to be replaced first.

This project is far from finished, but I can’t wait until it is all installed!

*Update: for those who have asked, my husband purchased the shade fabric from and the pulley system from

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