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How to make a sun shade out of a tarpaulin

Updated January 19, 2018

If you're going camping or just hanging outside, you might need to escape the sun. Instead of spending a ton of money on a canopy, you can use a tarpaulin to block the sun. Tarpaulins are much cheaper and can be used in a multitude of ways. It's not that hard to make a sun shade out of a tarpaulin and there are several ways you can go about doing it.

Work out how big of an area you'd like to shade. Tarpaulins come in a variety of sizes, and finding one to fit your specific needs should be quite easy. Your local department store or camping shop should have the size you need. Buy some rope that will fit through the outside rings to hold it up.

Buy some poles to hold the outside edges of the tarpaulin in place. If you already have metal tent poles handy, they will work just fine. Take into account that the poles will need to be hammered about 30 cm (1 foot) into the ground to give them stability for holding up the tarpaulin. You will need poles for each corner and possibly one for the centre section of the tarpaulin.

Hammer your poles into the ground in an area that is big enough to hold the dimensions of the tarpaulin. Make sure to get your poles deep enough into the earth so they will be stable. Tie each end of the tarpaulin to a pole, pulling it tight. If the centre portion sags, place another pole there to hold it up. You now have a sun shade.

If you don't want to use the pole system, tie your ropes around available tree trunks. Make sure to get your ropes high enough to accommodate the people who will be under the sun shade. Pull the ropes tight so the tarpaulin will be taunt and won't sag. You can also place a pole in the centre to alleviate sagging if it occurs.

Hammer two poles into the ground that are as far apart as the width of the tarpaulin. Tie your tarpaulin to the top of these two poles and stretch the back portion out away from the front area. You can use tent spikes hammered into the bottom edge openings and into the ground to hold the tarpaulin in place. This will give you a sun shade that looks like a lean-to. This is an easier way to make a sun shade, but you won't have as much space as in the previous two options.

Things You'll Need

  • Tarpaulin
  • Rope
  • Poles
  • Trees
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About the Author

For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.