Shade, shade... I've gotta have shade. Ffor the summer only.

ironhat(So. Cent. PA)June 6, 2008

Our family room is on the end of our rancher. It sits under a hip roof the entire 28' of it facing south. The two windows are energy efficient (low-e) and the ceiling over the room are insulated with 3" of, blown in cellulose which has compressed over the years and then, six more inches of over this. While the addition of the last 6" of glass helped a lot the walls are only 3.5" thick, insulated with and the exterior siding is T1-11. I've thought that a seasonal green giving semi-shading would help a lot but keep from making it a cave. Unfortunately, I don't know what would perform this function. I had invisioned anchoring wires to screweyes in the soffit and tying them off 'somehow' at ground level, at about a 30* angle. This mirage of mine would grow quickly up the wires (in a bout a week's time - LOL!) and provide a semi-shade to the wall. I actually hope that there's a better solution to my dilemma. A seasonal solution will allow the winter sun to do a little good. Sorry for the long post but I can't expect good solutions without giving good facts!



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karinl(BC Z8)

True, you've given us good info... except for the info required to assess the feasibility of the obvious answer :-) ! But here's the answer, and you can assess its suitability.

Ideally, you would plant a deciduous tree that will shade the house in summer, and let the sun in in winter. How much space do you have outside for a tree? There are columnar varieties available if you don't have much space, such as beeches and maples, but if you have room for a spreading tree, that is the motherlode of coolness. What such a tree does, I think, is create a whole cool zone outside your house which means you can get coolness even if the tree does not extend totally over your roof (where it will, admittedly, cause leaf drop problems - but far less trouble than a vine growing right up your house).

So tell us a bit about the property on which this house sits, and perhaps some solid tree advice will be forthcoming.

For temporary cover for this and the next few years, think about a built structure, such as a pergola, not necessarily right ON the house but adjacent to it, and pursue the vine idea.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 2:51PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Yes, what you need is a shade tree. And yes, you need the shade tree quite close to the house. Somewhere not too far off the southwest corner.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 4:43PM
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ironhat(So. Cent. PA)

Yes, a tree is the best and most obvious solution. I just don't think that I will live long enough to see it do any good. Sorry, I could have stated that laaaarge issue up front. I did plant a Zelcova elsewhere about 15 years ago and it is now 40 feet tall. Pretty darn good but I'll be in my 70's by the time another one grows that high. And the fact that I probably won't be here in this house to enjoy its help. I may still plant one. Gotta leave the place better off than I got it.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 7:43PM
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Window awnings are great at keeping the house cool. They work way better than shades of even treated glass because they prevent the sun from hitting the windows in the first place.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 7:48PM
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ironhat(So. Cent. PA)

Ahhhhh, awnings. Hadn't crossed my mind one bit. I'll have to look in to the feasability since the hip roof carries to within a foot of the top of the windows - at least, that's wher the soffit is. I would also love to plant a tree just off the SW corner but the pool is there and it wouldn't have to spread much to be over the garden as well. I very much appreciate the comments thusfar.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 10:36PM
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florah(z9 Leesburg, Fl)

If a retractable awning attached to the house does not work due to the low roof, you can use a sail awning, for example like this:

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 9:28AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Trees can be over the garden to at least some extent. I would definitely plant one somewhere. And if you want the benefit of it soon, one can buy big specimens - but they should be planted in spring, not early summer, and will cost a bit. There are also fast growing trees that will provide shade within 3 years, though you won't want them for long. But if you plant a slower growing nicer specimen beside it, then you have shade from the junk tree while your good one grows in.

But OK, back to the shorter term.

Immediate relief = awning, giant umbrella, etc, no two ways about it.

Short-term - Your wires may not be that bad an idea, but even the most rampant vines (and really not sure you want those) will take two or three years to get up them (even clematis that regrow from the ground each year don't put on much overhead mass in their first year or two; perhaps you have a mature one you could move from elsewhere?). And then you have to consider that vines do put on a fair bit of weight over time, and just as they provide enough shade, they could rip your anchors out of your soffits.

You can build all manner of free-standing trellises and pergolas, and a good old clematis or two would do your work for you within three years. But how much height do you need? You can only get posts that are so long. I built one that looks like a giant badminton net, used 12 foot posts and once they were sunk in far enough for stability it is only 9 feet high. If your structure is 3-dimensional you may be able to use 15-foot posts, sunk in less.

Which vines to choose depends on what's hardy for you - not my forte, sorry. It's usually a good start to check your local nursery.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 1:24PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Hey, post a plan drawing or a photo of the property outside the part of the house in question and you might get some more input.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 1:24PM
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I just posted this on another forum. May be of help.......

Here is a link that might be useful: awnings

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 3:33PM
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There is a tubular skylight that is installed in the roof, then a flexible tube which is mirrored on the inside is run to the ceiling location where you want natural light and installed so it looks kind of like a can light on your ceiling. I think you can find these on the Rodale Organic Gardening website but I first saw them at a trade show.

If you can capture the sunlight you want, you can supposedly run these small skylights to about anywhere in the house.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 1:08AM
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lynnt(Z7 MD)

I had a similar situation in my last house, in the DC area (Zone 7): a south-facing dining room, one wall mostly glass, that absolutely cooked in summer. No room to plant a tree in that side yard, either. So I built a vertical grape arbor shaped like a giant wide-toothed comb out of 3" iron pipes (drilled at three-foot intervals for horizontal cross cables) and bedded the pipe-ends in concrete, about 3 feet away from the house to allow access to the window. (Karin is quite right about needing about three-four feet in the ground for stability). The vertical comb "teeth" were each 15 feet long originally but 12 feet when embedded, and spaced about three feet apart, so with the cables I had three-foot squares. I planted two Scuppernong grapes for the long haul, plus hyacinth bean and runner bean vines the first year -- the beans easily grew 30 feet between April and June. By the end of the second summer, I had a living tapestry outside that window like something out of William Morris -- it was fascinating to watch the bugs eating the grapes and the birds eating the bugs in the cool green tangles. Takes some work to train the vines, and clearing up the mess after the first frost is a bit of a job, but it did the trick!

I have a similar structure in this house, but facing north-west, supporting a climbing Madame Alfred Carrier rose plus a Betty Corning clematis. So I get recurring flushes of blue and white all summer.

One warning -- both Betty Corning and grapevines are vigorous and expansive growers, always looking for lebensraum -- it may be a trick to keep them from growing into your gutters or onto your roof.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 12:30PM
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