Garden shade or protection from frost are easy to accomplish using simple, inexpensive materials.
Hoop houses covered with plastic sheeting or shade cloth are an economical way for farmers to protect crops from frost or excess sunlight. In a similar way, small gardens can be protected from cold by the use of plastic sheeting. And garden shade can be provided using shade cloth or burlap. In essence, one can create a mini hoop house or greenhouse by building a simple frame to support clear plastic sheets.
Garden shade or frost protection using lattice and fabric.
At The Micro Farm Project, we use steel remesh lattice to create a frame for garden shade. Remesh, also known as hardware cloth, can generally be found at hardware stores in the aisle containing fence supplies. I prefer remesh lattice to remesh sheets because they are the easier option with which to work.
Bend a remesh lattice over the garden to form an arch repeating at two or three foot intervals. Press the ends of the remesh down into the soil to stabilize it. Drape clear, heavy plastic sheeting over the remesh supports, tacking it to the ground with landscape staples, heavy rocks or bricks.
PVC pipe or 1-inch irrigation tubing could be used as an alternative to remesh to create the arches.
Pictured above are the supports in place with no sheeting attached. I leave them in the garden year-round. They serve as trellises and supports for tall flowers in the springtime.
In the summertime, the arches can be used to support garden shade. I prefer to use loosely-woven burlap for garden shade. If temperatures are particularly hot, 30-50% UV rated shade cloth can be substituted for burlap.
Having the lattice in place year round makes garden protection easy through the seasons!
Switch easily between garden shade and frost protection by clipping garden fabrics or plastic to the supports with strong clamps. In the summertime, shade cloth is clamped to the supports. As temperatures begin to drop and days get short in the fall, I removed the cloth. Supports are left in place. When a frost is predicted, I throw clear plastic sheeting over the supports. Bed sheets are a suitable alternative.
Frost protection fabric is applied at night. Drape it the way to the ground to trap heat. During the day, open the ends to allow airflow which releases excess heat or moisture.
How to Build a Low Tunnel to Protect Plants from Frost