A shade sail is a practical and stylish way to create shade in your garden, and will help you to enjoy your time outside safely, even on those rare days when it’s hot and sunny in the UK.
Shade sails are usually made from polyester, and consist of a triangle or square of material. This is attached via a cord at each corner, to fixed anchor points, such as a hook or tree branch. The effect can look particularly modern and appealing when the mounting points are at different heights.
A shade sail will create shade in your garden, without taking up space on the ground, in the way of a gazebo. This means it’s ideal for smaller gardens and patios. The resulting shaded location can make a great place for outdoor seating, a dining table, or a play area for children.
To help you choose the best shade sail for your garden, we’ve put together this list of our 5 favourite options on the market. Our selection is based on their quality, durability, size and ease of installation.
Last update on 2021-09-23 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
With one of these sailing overhead, you’ll be able to make the most of the 5 days of sun we get this summer!
Our best shade sail is high-quality, water-resistant and will block out 95% of harmful UV-rays
Topping our list of the best shade sails is this Sunnylaxx Water Resistant Sun Sail. This high-quality shade sail measures 3 x 5m, and is perfect for shading your garden, patio or terrace.
It’s made from a high density 160gsm polyester, with a PU coating. Not only is it capable of blocking up to 95% of harmful UV rays, but it’s also water resistant, so will protect you from light rain showers too.
The sail is rectangular in shape, and comes with 4 x stainless steel D-rings in each corner, for easy mounting. It also includes 4 x 1.5m mounting cords, so there’s no need to source your own.
The material is resistant to fading, tears and mildew, and if it gets dirty, it’s also easy to clean – simply wipe with soapy water. If your sail is faulty in some way, a 5-year guarantee will help you get the problem sorted.
All this does come at a price, as this is our most expensive shade sail. However, given the durable and high-quality product on offer, we think it’s the best option on the market overall.
- High density 160gsm polyester material.
- PU coating makes it water resistant.
- Provides efficient shade – blocks up to 95% of UV rays.
- Durable stainless steel D-rings for mounting.
- Includes mounting cords, so no need to purchase separately.
- Fade resistant and easy to clean.
- Comes with a 5-year guarantee.
- Our priciest shade sail.
- Not many colour options – limited to sand, cream and grey.
This small, triangular shade sail blocks up to 98% of UV rays, and is highly affordable – which is why it’s our value pick
All things considered, this Yeahmart Waterproof Sun Shade is the one we think offers you the best value for money.
It’s made from 280gsm polyester, which is the densest material on our list, and claims to have an impressive 98% UV protection. It’s fade and mildew resistant, and will also protect you from rain, although the material is breathable, and therefore not fully waterproof (despite the name).
The sail is triangular in shape and measures 3 x 3m. This might make it ideal for smaller gardens, but won’t provide as much shade as the larger models. Each sail has 3 x D-rings and comes with the 200cm cords that are necessary for installation.
It’s available in a choice of 5 colours, which gives you good flexibility over the look created. The most attractive thing about this sail is the price – it’s the lowest on our list, and you won’t find a similar product much cheaper.
There are a few concerns regarding the quality of the stitching, and some users report that their sail has faded in the sun, despite the manufacturer’s claims. Overall though, the shade is good quality, and ideal for covering small areas, on a budget.
- Made from high-density, breathable 280gsm polyester.
- Provides up to 98% UV protection.
- Water and mildew resistant.
- Includes 200cm cords, for easy installation.
- Available in a choice of colours – sand, cream, grey, green and red.
- Highly affordable – our cheapest shade sail.
- At 3 x 3m, it’s smaller than others, and therefore doesn’t provide as much shade.
- Stitching on some units is of poor quality.
- Prone to fading.
This large 3.5 x 5m sun sail is ideal for shading bigger gardens and outdoor areas
If you’re looking for a larger sun sail, check out this 3.5 x 5m rectangular option from SONGMICS.
The comparatively bigger size makes this one ideal if you’re looking to create a larger area of shade in your garden, perhaps over an outdoor dining set, or children’s paddling pool. The sail is said to block 93% of the sun’s rays, which is a little lower than our previous sails.
It has PVC-taped seams and is water-resistant to at least 1000mm (tested in a hydrostatic pressure test). It’s not impenetrable, but it can be relied upon to protect you from showers. The concave shape of the sail is also designed to dissipate wind better, reducing the risk of damage in storms.
It comes with stainless steel rings in each corner, and lengths of 2m cord, to allow you to install it straight away. With only Sand, Light Grey or Smokey Grey colours on offer, if you’re looking to brighten up your garden, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
It’s not quite the most expensive option on our list, but it is comparatively pretty pricey. However, this is our largest shade sail, and the quality is there, so if you want a neutral option, it’s still an excellent choice.
- Made from durable 160gsm polyester.
- Water-resistant to at least 1000mm.
- Concave shape and stretchy material reduce the risk of damage in strong winds.
- Includes stainless steel rings and 2m long ropes for easy installation.
- Larger 3.5 x 5m size provides you with more shade.
- Not the most affordable option.
- Limited colour options – only neutrals.
This rectangular garden shade blocks out 98% of UV rays, and is machine washable – but you will need to provide your own fixing kit
This Kookaburra Waterproof Garden Shade is designed to block out 98% of harmful UV rays – so it’s perfect for sheltering children, and those with sensitive skin.
It features a rectangular design, which measures 3 x 2m (although as with most of our shades, other sizes are available). The shape of the shade is designed to maximise water run-off, preventing you from getting wet in the event of a storm. Make sure to install it at angle, and keep it taut, to prevent water gathering in the middle.
The 160gsm polyester material is rot proof and UV-stabilised to prevent fading. It’s also machine washable at 40°C, so it’s super easy to maintain. A 2-year warranty from the manufacturer will help you out in the event of any faults.
The sides are strapped to help with tension, and each corner has a 304 grade stainless steel D-ring, for installation. Unlike our other shade sails, this one doesn’t come with any cords for installation – the manufacturer recommends purchasing their fixing kit, for an additional cost.
As long as you don’t mind this though, this is another solid option, that’s ideal for those who want to be able to throw their sail in the washing machine, to keep it looking its best.
- Made from 160gsm polyester.
- Blocks 98% of UV rays.
- Material is rot proof and UV-stabilised.
- Machine washable and easy to clean.
- Sides are strapped for tension.
- 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.
- No other colour options available.
- Doesn’t come with cords for installation – these must be purchased separately.
This funky outdoor shade is available in a choice of colours, including bright orange and lime green, and is great for creating a tropical look
The last shade sail to make it into our selection is this Laxllent Outdoor Patio Shade.
Of all the sun shades on our list, this is the one with the most colour options. As well as neutral shades, it’s also available in bright orange, red and green, so it’s a great choice for those who want to make a statement with their garden design.
This one is again made from 160gsm polyester, and provides a respectable 96.5% UV protection. The material is tear-resistant, dustproof and weatherproof – but bear in mind that it doesn’t claim to be waterproof, and it is prone to collecting rain water and sagging in the middle.
The shade measures 2.4 x 3m, so it’s another good option for smaller gardens, although other sizes are available. It comes with thick webbing and durable class 304 D-rings on the corners, as well as lengths of 1.7m nylon rope, for easy installation.
If you have any problems with your shade sail, a 90-day money-back guarantee and 36-month warranty should have you covered. Ultimately, we would recommend this vibrant option to anyone looking to break free from beige, and add some colour to their garden.
- Made from 160gsm polyester.
- Provides 96.5% UV protection.
- Tear-resistant and weatherproof.
- Includes class 304 D-rings and rope for installation.
- Available in many colour options, including orange, green and red.
- Comes with a 36-month warranty.
- Not very water-resistant – prone to collecting rain water and sagging in the middle.
- Small size doesn’t create as much shade as larger styles.
How To Attach A Shade Sail
Before attaching a shade sail, you need to decide on your anchor points, on which to tie it. These could be a hook or eye bolt on the fascia on your house, a pergola, a tree branch, or a specially-erected fence post, depending on the layout of your garden – but they must be sturdy.
When choosing your anchor points, you should consider how you want to position your sail – do you want it to be horizontal, vertical, or on an angle? Mounting points at differing heights are often considered to produce the best look. Of course, it is vital to ensure there is enough room for shade sail, and that the position results in shade in the desired location.
Once you’ve decided on your mounting points, you’ll need to use a sturdy cord, to attach the corners of your sail to them. Some shade sails come with cords included, as part of the fixing kit – if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to source your own cord designed for outdoor use, made from nylon, or a similar material.
Use a U-clamp to fasten the cord to the D-rings on the corners of your sail. At the other end of the cord, attach a turnbuckle fastener. To attach your shade sail, use a ladder to reach your anchor points, and attach the turnbuckle to your anchors, using a karabiner, or similar. Pull the cord taut, and fix it in place with another U-clamp. Repeat for all corners.
How To Fix A Sagging Sail
If your shade sail starts to sag, you’ll need to tighten it. Do this by using a ladder to reach your mounting points, and loosening the U-clamp holding your cord in place. Pull the cord through until the shade sail is in the desired position, and re-tighten the clamp. You may need to use a ratchet strap, in order to get enough tension in the sail.
Do Shade Sails Protect From The Rain?
Most shade sails will provide some protection from the rain, in the event of a light shower. However, they are generally permeable, to allow the material to breathe, which means they are not fully waterproof.
Shade sails should therefore not be relied upon to provide protection from heavy storms, as water will eventually drip through. Installing your shade sail at an angle will encourage the water to run off the surface, and extend the amount of time that passes before you get wet.
April is a freelance writer who specialises in writing about home and garden design and the environment. She is an avid wildlife-enthusiast and adventure-seeker, and feels happiest when in the Great Outdoors.