A pergola models the basic idea of a more rustic, less costly shade house.

How to Build an Inexpensive Backyard Shade House

by Deborah Stephenson

Sunshine is the boon of summer and makes us long to be outdoors. However, you can have too much of a good thing. Sunburn and heatstroke are often the painful or even dangerous side effects of too much fun in the sun. Having a shade house to sit and entertain out of the heat is not only pleasant, but sometimes necessary to enjoyment.

1. PVC Hoop House

The simplest, and possibly least expensive, shade house you can build in your yard is also a dual-purpose structure -- making it an even bigger bargain. Build a simple hoop-house style greenhouse from PVC, but instead of fastening on plastic sheeting, top the upper portion of the arches with shade cloth or canvas fabric fastened on with PVC greenhouse clips. Leave the lower part of the structure open for access and breezes. When summer ends, trade the shade cloth for plastic greenhouse film and use the hoop house it to extend your gardening season.

2. Living Lattice House

Another inexpensive shade house requires little more than four or more large posts for uprights and a few lattice panels. Save cash by scrounging at building sites for leftover lumber, after obtaining permission, to build into larger laminated posts -- made by screwing and gluing the smaller scrap lumber pieces together. Sink the poles in the ground and screw lattice panels on sides and top to complete. Plant quick-growing vines or hang flowering baskets as finishing touches.

3. Rustic Pergola

Pergolas have been around since ancient times as a way for people in sunny climates to enjoy nature from the vantage of a cool, breezy outdoor room. Many modern pergolas employ huge, expensive timbers and heavy lumber, but you can get the same effect with a rustic charm by using free tree trunks and branches instead. When building your pergola, use standard framing practices to ensure all the posts -- in this case tree trunks -- seat firmly in the ground and are perfectly plumb. After that, use large limbs or sapling tree trunks to make the roof and fill in with smaller decorative branches for artistic flair.

4. A-Framed Shade

Save money on walls for your shade house by building only the roof. An A-frame structure -- so called because it looks like the uppercase letter A -- truly is walls and roof in one. Whether you use pipes with simple connectors, dimensional lumber fastened with screws, or long pieces of bamboo or saplings lashed together with rope to form the basic structure, depends upon what you have available. Make two As and connect each with a crosspiece -- like the supports on a swingset. Once the frame is up, attach small branches, bamboo screens, trellis, shade cloth or whatever else you may have to screen the walls. And there you have, a retreat with dappled shade.

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