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  • Guide to Using Shade Cloth

    April 03, 2024 3 min read 0 Comments

    Shade cloth in hoop house

    What % shade cloth do I need? 

    See below for our infographic on selecting the right shade cloth.  This is just a general guide, as you can also get some great advice from local growers in your area who know your specific climate better than we do. 

    Here is an easy guide.

    Shade Cloth Percentage Zone/Crops
    30 Northern Climates/ Mixed Veggies
    50 Lettuce, Flowers, Tomatoes, Mixed Crops, and 
    Most Vegetables
    60 Ornamentals/Succulents
    70 Light Sensitive Plants


    Why do I need shade cloth?

    Shade cloths are an essential tool for a successful growing season. They are usually made of woven polypropylene fabric and can be added to any structure. The main function of shade cloth is to protect the plants. The light diffusion percentage is chosen based on the plant's light needs and the local climate. 

    Shade cloth not only provides UV protection, but it also helps to keep your greenhouse cool, improves plant ventilation, and reduces water usage. Plants can reduce the amount of excess light energy that they are absorbing, which leads to cell damage and often sunburn.

    To figure out the sizing, measure the length and width of your structure. When measuring for a greenhouse, avoid going too long to prevent overhang on the endwalls. The cloth only needs to cover the top down to the hip-board. Attach with shade cloth clips, which have a loop that can be used for tying off with a rope. Attach the clips on each corner of the cloth and about every 3 feet after that for secure attachment.

    White Shade Cloth or Black Shade Cloth?

    Whether you choose black or white-colored shade fabric will depend on several factors.

    • White shade cloth reflects light, making for a cooler environment for the plants. White shade fabric is better suited for warmer climates and flowering and fruiting plants. 
    • Black shade cloth absorbs light while also blocking excess light. Black shade cloth is better for those growing heat-loving crops such as tomatoes and peppers and those in colder climates that benefit from more solar gains in the shoulder season.

    Related: Monofilament vs. Tape Shade Cloth

    How long does shade cloth last?

    Shade cloths are a great investment, that when taken care of properly, can last up to 16 years. They help to reduce energy usage and increase the productivity of plants as less stress is being put onto the plants. Factor in your plant variety's light and temperature needs when choosing your shade cloth diffusion percentage for best results.

    Does shade cloth need to go all the way to the ground?

    No, it does not. It only needs to cover the top above the hip board.

    Don’t go too long either and let it hang over the end walls as it might get in the way of your door or vent fan.

    Our shade cloth comes with a slight hem on the edge without grommets or clips. A grommet kit can be purchased at box stores or Harbor Freight pretty inexpensively but our shade cloth clips work well to hold tight to the material.

    They close tight over the material without tearing cloth and have a loop to make it easy to attach a rope or metal bolt snaps or eye snap connectors. Clip them on each corner and about every 3 feet for a very secure attachment.

    Watch this video to learn more about choosing the right size and about the best practices with shade cloth on your hoop house.