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DIY Beach Shade

Ian Fortey by Ian Fortey Updated on August 2, 2022. In Beach

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If you’re the kind of person who goes to the beach just once in a while, it doesn’t always make sense to spend a lot on beach gear. You’ll want the essentials, but maybe not something like a beach canopy or a beach umbrella. If you only use it once a season it can be a hard expense to justify. Or maybe you go all the time and just want a cheaper solution. Luckily there are a number of do-it-yourself beach shade ideas you can try that need a couple tools at most, if any. These can save you money while still ensuring you’re having and keeping out of the sun.

Things You’ll Need

A lot of DIY ideas essentially ask you to pitch a tent on the beach and actually require the use of tent poles and guy wires. But if you have tent poles and guy wires then you pretty much have a whole beach tent, so why not bring that? If you’re looking for something that wasn’t actually a tent to begin with and doesn’t use tent parts, a true DIY, then creativity is the key.

You need something big to block the sun. Your best options for that will be:

  • A blanket or sheet
  • A large beach towel/blanket
  • A tarp
  • A tablecloth

Blankets, sheets and towels are obviously things most of us have several of at home. Just fold up an older one that you don’t mind getting a little dirty at the beach. Tarps and table cloths are often available at dollar stores and make a great option. These will probably be a little flimsy, maybe not the kind of tablecloth or tarp you’d use for their intended purposes, but that’s okay.

You’ll also need supports for your shade. Again, tent poles are great but if you have tent poles you probably have a tent and that’s not really DIY shade. If you do have old tent poles and no tent that’s great, you can use those. If not, there are other options.

  • Broomsticks or long tool handles
  • Dowel rods
  • Bamboo sticks
  • Chair backs
  • Natural sticks and branches
  • Rope or other support lines

A broomstick may seem impractical but remember, the dollar store can be your friend here again. Many dollar stores sell broomsticks with broom heads separate. So you can spend a couple of bucks and get some tall, sturdy poles out of the deal. Likewise, dowel rods and bamboo sticks are usually in dollar store gardening sections.

In a pinch, you can use the back of your beach chair as a support for lower to the ground shade. You can also harvest driftwood or sticks from nearby trees if the beach you’re at has a treed area or forest nearby.

Rope can work in some cases, particular if you have a a spot with a tree or two. String a line between branches, or from a tree to the back of your truck, whatever. You can use that as a cross beam to set up a shaded place.

Finally, you’ll need some methods of securing your shade. This can include things like:

  • Clothes pegs
  • Lengths of rope
  • Plastic or fabric ties
  • Stones

You can use clothes pegs or other ties to affix your shade to support poles, to rope, to branches, whatever you’re holding it up with. To secure it in corners you may need more rope to act as guy lines and then stones or other weights to keep it from blowing away.

The point to all of this is to get creative. You’re thinking outside of the box and there really aren’t any rules you need to follow. A few basic steps to ensure your shade offers good coverage and is secure, and there are probably literally hundreds of ways to do it.

Simple DIY Beach Tent

The easiest DIY beach shade idea is a very barebones tent. Really, this is more of a canopy than anything else but you don’t need much to make it work. Use your blanket or tarp as a shade and then find yourself four posts. Sticks, bamboo, whatever works. A simpler design just requires 2 taller sticks and either 2 smaller ones or weights to hold the back of your shade down at a 45 degree angle. The rear is secured low to the ground, the front is supported at either corner by your DIY tentpole sticks.

If you’re using a sheet you can either narrow a length at the corner and tie it in a knot around the pole, or drape the edge over the pole and then use ropes or other ties to secure each corner in place. When it’s set at a 45 degree angle, you can easily get your beach towel underneath to lay down, and the angle part will protect you from wind and sun. Just secure the lower part to short pegs or even weigh it down right to the ground with stones at the corners.

Fun Beach Tent for Kids

A quick and fun beach tent fits great with kids. A lot of kids love building forts so a homemade beach tent is right up their alley using things like beach chairs and a shower curtain. Another option is bicycles. Sounds weird, but if you biked to the beach, you can balance the bike upside down with the wheels in the air, and clip your shade to the wheels/spokes at four corners between two bikes. Keeps the bikes where you can see them and make them useful in just a few minutes.

Think Canopy Bed

Any four posts will do to keep a shade up above you to block the sun. So you can use a traditional four post format to make it easiest, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you only have three posts, a triangle formation can still be adapted. Two posts? Like we said earlier, support the front and let the back rest on the ground, weighted by stones.

Even one tree can work if you have a rope you can use. Run the rope at a 45 degree angle from the tree, attach it to a stick and bury the stick about a foot into the sand to act as a dead man anchor. You now have a solid line that acts as a center pole for your homemade tent. Just put the shade over it, weighted by stones on either side to make a tent.

The Bottom Line

If you have a sheet and a way to hold it up, you can have shade. Don’t get hung up on details or making it pretty, sometimes it’s just about what works. Use our suggestions as a jumping off point and see what you can come up with. As always, stay safe and have fun.

About Ian

My grandfather first took me fishing when I was too young to actually hold up a rod on my own. As an avid camper, hiker, and nature enthusiast I'm always looking for a new adventure.

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