Shade Sails can provide an attractive and versatile way to provide shade and reduce heat gain.
Shade sails are tensioned fabric triangles or four sided polygons that are supported by fixed supports (usually poles or buildings) to provide shade for decks, entries, windows, ... Often several sails are used in combination for wider coverage and visual appeal -- the effect can be quite striking.
The shade sails are common in Australia, but (it seems) underutilized elsewhere.
The websites below provide information on shade sails -- I picked these sites because they provide some worthwhile information on designing or installing sails, or good photo galleries showing how shade sails can be used. Most of these suppliers are located in Australia.
This is not any kind of recommendation for these suppliers -- just a few places I found while looking around.
Billabong Shade -- Very extensive photo gallery
Horizon Sails (pdf) -- Some information on laying out and designing shade sails
So-Cal Shade Sails (San Diego, CA) -- Some helpful photos and design information, and a DIY section. The offer custom sails and a selection of off the shelf sails, as well as mounting hardware.
ABACUS Shade Structures -- extensive project library with pictures and a little design information on each project.
Sundance Shadesails -- a wide variety of off the shelf shade sails.
Shade Solutions -- Some design and installation information, and some interesting design examples.
Greenhouse Megastore -- Some shade sail kits in several sizes with hardware at pretty reasonable prices.
Here are a few pictures of shade sails used for various purposes:
These pictures are taken from the websites listed above.
This is the kit shade sail from the Greenhouse Megastore
The 4 sided polygon style of shade sail. The support heights are arranged with the diagonals at different heights to promote stability in the wind.
Deck and window shading
Simple deck and window shade. Another deck and window shade. Quad shade with tree for support point.
The installation manual on the Greenhouse Megastore kits has a lot of good installation detail...
One configuration of shade sail corner showing cable pockets and corner attachment fitting
Gary 8/11/2007, Mar 4, 2011