How to Make a Cheap & Easy Outdoor Playground Shade?

You can create your own playground shade using an assortment of items, such as a tarp, sheeting or plastic cover and metal hardware cloth. You can also add poles or stakes to secure the material in place. Playground shade is important to protect children from the sun's harmful rays while they play.

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With the growing awareness of skin cancer, private and commercial playgrounds are increasingly being designed with sun protection in mind. Adding shade structures to a playground is crucial since it allows children to stay cool and avoid direct sunlight exposure.

So, how do you make a playground shade? There are many different types of playground shade structures available on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some common options you can install on your playground include canopies, umbrellas, hip and ridge shade structures, sail shades, modular playground shade, and hip rectangular shade structures.

Are you looking to add shade to your playground? If so, you have come to the right place! This article will discuss different types of playground shade structures that you can choose from.

Read on to learn more about your options!

Why Should You Add Shade Structures to Your Playground?

Before we dive into the different types of playground shade structures, let’s first discuss why you should add shade to your playground in the first place.

1. Protect Children from UV Rays

As we mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons for adding shade structures to a playground is to protect children from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, nearly 5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States every year.

In fact, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer among children. UV exposure is one of the main risk factors for developing skin cancer.

A shaded playground.
One of the main reasons for adding shade structures to a playground is to protect children from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Adding shade structures to your playground can help reduce the children’s exposure to UV rays and protect them from developing skin cancer.

2. Injury Protection

Some playground equipment can get extremely hot or cold during extreme weather conditions. This can pose a severe risk of injury to children who come in contact with the equipment.

Shade structures can help protect children from coming into direct contact with hot or cold surfaces. You can help reduce the risk of injuries due to extreme temperatures by providing a shady area for children to play in.

3. Keep Children Cool

In addition to protecting children from UV rays, shade structures can also help keep them cool in hot weather. When the sun is beating down on a playground, the temperature can quickly become unbearable for children.

A playground with shade.
Protecting children from UV rays, shade structures can also help keep them cool in hot weather.

Shade structures provide a place for children to take a break from the heat and stay cool. They can also help prevent heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

4. Provide a Place for Children to Play in the Rain

Another benefit of playground shade structures is that they provide a place for children to play in the rain. If your playground has no covered areas, the children will have to go inside when it starts raining.

With a playground shade structure, your little ones can stay outside and continue playing even when it rains. This is especially beneficial for schools and daycare centers that do not have indoor playgrounds.

5. Aesthetics

Some playground shade structures, such as canopies, provide you with a wide range of design and color options. This allows you to create a playground that is not only functional but also looks great.

Different Types of Playground Shade Structures

Now that we have discussed some of the benefits of adding shade structures to your playground, let’s take a look at the options available.

1. Canopies

A canopy is a type of shade structure that is supported by posts. It is typically made from fabric or metal and has a roof-like design. Canopies are one of the most popular types of playground shade structures due to their versatility, durability, and ease of installation.

Canopies are very versatile and can be used to cover a wide variety of playground equipment. They are also available in various colors and designs to match your playground’s theme.

A playset with shade.
Canopies are one of the most popular types of playground shade structures due to their versatility, durability, and ease of installation.

One of the main advantages of canopies is that they are very easy to install. In most cases, they can be installed by a single person in just a few minutes.

However, one downside of canopies is that they do not provide as much protection from the sun as some of the other options on this list.

Before you purchase a canopy, ensure that it is made from a UV-resistant material for maximum protection.

2. Awnings

An awning is a type of shade structure that is attached to the side of a building. Awnings are typically made from fabric or metal and can be opened or closed as needed.

Awnings are a great option for playgrounds located next to a building. They provide excellent protection from the sun and can be easily opened or closed as needed.

One of the main disadvantages of awnings is that they require regular maintenance to last. Awnings must also be regularly cleaned to prevent mold and mildew from growing on them.

These structures are also not as durable as other options, so they may need to be replaced more often.

3. Sail Shades

A sail is a type of shade structure that is supported by poles. It is typically made from fabric and has a triangular or rectangular shape. Sails are an excellent option for playgrounds that do not have a lot of space.

Sail shades are relatively easy to install. In fact, a complete installation can be done by a single person in a couple of minutes. They are also available in various colors and designs to match your playground’s theme.

One of the main disadvantages of sail shades is that they do not provide as much protection from the sun compared to other playground shade structures.

Sail shades can be transformed into overlapping triangular sails for increased protection from the sun.

4. Umbrellas

Umbrellas are a good option when trying to add shade to a relatively large playground with several play areas. They can be placed over individual pieces of playground equipment or used to cover a group of tables and chairs.

Different colors of umbrellas.
Umbrellas are a good option when trying to add shade to a relatively large playground with several play areas.

Umbrellas are very easy to install and are available in a wide range of colors and designs. However, they do not provide as much protection from the sun, especially for large playgrounds.

Another disadvantage of umbrellas is that the wind can easily blow over them. It is essential to ensure they are adequately secured to prevent them from being blown away.

5. Tension Membrane Structures

A tension membrane structure is a type of shade structure supported by poles. It is typically made from fabric and has a curved or dome-like shape.

Tension membrane structures are one of the most durable types of playground shade structures. They are also available in a wide range of colors and designs.

One of the main disadvantages of tension membrane structures is that they can be more expensive than some of the other options on this list.

Another downside is that they require professional installation, which can add to the overall cost.

6. EZ Up Shelters

An EZ up shelter is a type of canopy that is quick and easy to set up. They are typically made from fabric and have a square or rectangular shape.

EZ up shelters are top-rated because they can be set up in just a few minutes. They are also available in a wide range of colors and designs.

One of the main disadvantages of EZ up shelters is that they are not durable and need to be replaced more often.

Another downside is that the wind can easily blow over them. It is essential to ensure they are adequately secured to prevent them from being blown away.

Choosing the Right Type of Playground Shade Structure

With a wide range of options available, choosing the right one for your needs can be challenging.

One of the most critical factors you need to consider when choosing a playground shade structure is the overall size of the playground. If you have a large playground, you will need a shade structure that can cover a significant area.

Another critical factor to consider is the climate. If you live in an area that experiences high temperatures and direct sunlight for most of the year, you will need a shade structure that provides maximum UV protection.

A playset under the tree.
If you have a large playground, you will need a shade structure that can cover a significant area.

If you live in an area with moderate temperatures, you may not need a shade structure that is as durable or provides as much sun protection.

Once you have considered the size and climate of your playground, you can start narrowing down your options to find the right type of playground shade structure for your needs.

Keep in mind that your budget will determine the final decision. If you have a limited budget, you may need to choose a less expensive option that does not provide as much protection from the sun but is still good enough.

If money is not an issue, you can opt for a more expensive playground shade structure that offers maximum protection and durability.

Summary

Shade structures are essential for any playground because they provide various benefits to children. They protect children from UV rays, keep them cool, and provide a place for them to play in the rain.

Additionally, shade structures can add an aesthetic touch to your playground. There are many types of shade structures available on the market, so it is crucial to choose the one that best suits your needs.

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