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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A DIY On How To Install Metal Support Poles For A Shade Sail

Earlier this month we came up with a shelter solution for our courtyard garden which was to install a shade sail over the seating area.

We tweaked our initial shade sail design of 5 poles down to 4 poles in the end as we felt 2 poles were too close together (less than 1 metre between them) and not necessary and the 4 poles was a better design, it looks better and is less expensive as we don't need an extra pole!

We put two days aside for this DIY over the Easter Long Weekend and surprised ourselves by smashing it out in just one day which meant more time to relax and overdose on chocolate over the Easter break!

A step by step on how to install metal support poles for a shade sail

Mr P ordered two 8 metre long square steel support poles for the shade sail and had them cut in half to 4 metre lengths. 

Then to protect the steel from rust we had them powder coated in Classic Cream to match the limestone fence pillars they will be next to and exterior house colours of the render and paint. The cream colour of the poles is a perfect match and they blend in nicely with the surroundings.

Then Mr P got busy digging the holes for each pole - our poles are approx 3500 high so the footings need to be 1200mm deep in the ground and 400mm square (which is about the size of a shovel head).

We had to dig carefully as we laid gas, water pipes and underground power in this area and even though we have a good idea of where the pipes are we still need to be extra careful. It's better to take your time with these things than to go smashing through something and then have to fix it!

We were also up against the retaining walls and concrete footing of the limestone fence so we weren't able to dig holes too close to the brick pillars like we wanted to, so the poles will be set into the courtyard a bit instead of flush against the pillars.

But as the poles are to be installed on a 5 degree angle leaning back towards the pillars this has worked out fine.

Once the holes were dug the pole went in and we measured from the top of the brick pillar for the right height.

The poles will have high and low points for the shade sail to be attached to as this allows water drainage - we have 3 low poles and 1 high pole in our design.

We removed the pole from the hole, drew a line around the pole where it needed to be cut, using a mini level as a guide and ruler in one!

Then used the electric grinder to cut down the pole to the right height.

Because we are extra cautious we also spray painted the ends of the poles we had cut as they were now bare metal. We used a primer spray paint to protect it before it went into the ground to stop any rust developing.

When Lexi hears the rattle of the spray can she looks at me like she's thinking ... Here we go again any excuse to spray paint something!

Once all the poles were cut to size and spray painted they were ready to be secured in the ground in concrete footings.

We put the pole back in the hole, centered it on the brick pillar and using a level let the pole lean back by about 5 degrees (one bubble on the level). The reason you lean the pole back is the shade sail can be pulled tighter when the pole is on an angle.

You can install the poles straight but they will bend inwards once you apply tension. Plus you won't get as tight a pull on the shade sail and let's face it .... No-one wants a sloppy flappy shade sail do they!?

We then poured a 100mm layer (about 10kg) of blue metal gravel down each hole around the pole.

The gravel provides a base for the concrete footing and is great drainage for the metal pole in the ground which stops dampness and rust from developing.

We then secured each pole to the pillar with tape and bubble wrap so it stayed in position at the right lean angle.

This is so when the heavy concrete is poured into the holes the poles won't move.

Next we were ready to mix up some concrete for the footings  - we used 18 bags and each bag was 20kg - and we put about 4.5 bags of concrete in each hole to make the concrete footing.

We borrowed a cement mixer from my parents which made it so much easier than mixing by hand! We simply added the bag of cement, added water until it got a nice consistency, then poured it into a bucket and poured the cement into the hole on top of the layer of gravel.

We poured the concrete into the hole making sure to keep an eye on the level to ensure the pole didn't move as we poured the concrete in.

A couple of buckets of concrete went into each hole, any splatters of concrete we sprayed clean with the hose, and it was left to set for 48 hours.

So the 4 poles are secure in their concrete footings and won't be going anywhere rail, hail or shine!

You can see how the shade sail is going to define the seating area in the courtyard it's going to create a really nice space to relax with privacy and shelter.

We will now get in touch with Big Fat Snapper who are making the shade sail so they can come out and do a final measure now that the poles are in and they will make the shade sail out of canvas. 

Now that the poles are in the ground we can go ahead and get the paving and lawn laid in the courtyard which we started getting quotes for last weekend ...... so excited to see progress out here!

How did you spend your Easter break? Did you tackle any DIY projects?

Sharing with link parties:
Curly Crafty Mom - The Creative Corner
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
The Plumbette - Home Improvement Thursday

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  1. Dang- this is some tough work y'all are doing :) It is going to look great, though!


    1. Hopefully the last of the big jobs to do out here Carrie, then there will only be gardening to do which is a lot easier !

  2. you guys are machines......whoop whoop

    1. Haha Lisa we are a lot slower than the professionals but we give it a go nevertheless!

  3. Great work and great post! Very informative. Totally in love with your site supervisor by the way, what a cutie!! Thanks for linking up with #HIT

    1. Thanks Nicole, when I write a How To it helps me understand the process better as well even if I have to keep checking with Mr P why we did it that way! She's pretty cute hey and takes her job very seriously always close to the action :)

  4. I can't wait to see it landscaped and styled - I'm sure you can't either and when that sail goes up, it's going to look incredible! Thanks for linking up again this week. :)

    1. I really can't wait for it to be landscaped it will be the icing on the cake when we can fill the space with pots and plants and a comfy outdoor setting to relax in!

  5. Heya!
    I was searching for Shade Sails from past few days, now I came here and got the varieties of Shade Sails for my purpose.
    If you can share your portfolio so do mail ( me for your services and visit my website once (



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