Creating spectacular landscapes in small spaces

Why Should You Consider a Shade Sail Instead of a Pergola?

by Janet Banks

If you want to have a place where you can enjoy your outside space without being struck full by the sun, you might have thought about having a pergola built. That should do the job, but you should still consider going with a shade sail instead. These large sails are suspended in the air above you, creating plenty of overhead cover when the sun is at its hottest, and they come with plenty of advantages over pergolas.

Cheaper and Easier

Firstly, a shade sail is a lot easier to erect than a pergola. In fact, you might find that you need a permit for a pergola, and the amount of work needed to build it could prove quite extensive. With a shade sail, you'll only need a few mounting posts, which can be set into your outside space very quickly. After that's done, you can simply clip on the sail itself. If you and your partner are reasonably handy, it's something that you can probably do yourself. As well as saving time and effort, you'll save money. Even if you do need workmen, they won't need to work for nearly as long, and the raw materials needed for a pergola are far more expensive than those needed for a shade sail.


Perhaps the most compelling reason to invest in a shade sail instead of a pergola is the amount of versatility it affords you. In general, pergolas have to be quite small to avoid needing any central supports, and you'll only really be able to place them in certain parts of your outside space. With a shade sail, you can cover quite large areas, and you can place the sail pretty much wherever you like. For example, you could extend the sail over part of a swimming pool, which won't be an option with a pergola.

Additionally, you'll be able to choose between different fabrics when you go with shade sails, and this means you can mix it up according to your changing needs. Some parts of the country experience very heavy rains one day and very strong sunshine the next; you could use a waterproof shade sail for the first day and then switch it out for a thinner one on the next to take in some of the sun. You can also cycle between different degrees of UV protection.


Shade sails themselves aren't storm-proof; as the name implies, they can catch the wind very easily. However, quick release hooks make it easy to bring down your shade sail in just a few minutes. If strong winds are expected, you can remove the sail quickly. You obviously can't just pack away a pergola, and they can present quite a lot of surface area that will catch the wind and potentially cause damage.