DIY Simple Backyard Shade

Give yourself some shade this summer. Follow this simple step-by-step guide to building your own backyard canopy.

Backyard canopy


  • 5 5-gallon buckets  
  • 3 80-lb. bags cement mix  
  • Shovel  
  • 4 lengths Schedule 40 PVC pipe, cut to same length as height of planter (most hardware stores will cut to size)
  • 4 22" to 24" tapered planters, 10" diameter at base  
  • Tape measure  
  • 1 40-lb. bag of gravel 
  • Soil  
  • 4 8' bamboo poles  
  • Pencil  
  • Handsaw  
  • Power drill
  • ¼" drill bit  
  • Scissors  
  • 3 yards outdoor fabric, 54" wide
  • Iron  
  • Grommet kit, ¼" diameter  
  • 4 cable ties  
  • Plants

  1. Pour about 3" of water into a bucket. Have one person slowly pour about 60 lb. of cement mix into bucket while another person stirs with a shovel. When mix resembles thick pancake batter, position one piece of PVC pipe in center of a second bucket. While one person holds pipe in place, the other pours mixed cement around pipe. Hold pipe in place for 60 seconds. Repeat process for remaining three buckets. Let set overnight.
  2. Position planters approximately where you want them so they form a rectangle, 54" wide and from 6' to 8' long. Pour 2" gravel into each planter and distribute evenly. Place a concrete-filled bucket into each planter. Center each bucket in planter and adjust until it sits level, with pipe extending 1" to 2" above rim of planter. Fill planters with soil, being careful not to fill PVC pipe.
  3. Insert a bamboo pole into pipe in each planter. Decide what height you want canopy to be (ours is 6½'); cut bamboo poles to that length.
  4. Drill ¼" hole about 1" from end of each bamboo pole. Reinsert poles into planters.
  5. Adjust distance between poles to your liking, with short ends measuring 54" pole-to-pole. Measure length between poles, add 4" and cut fabric to that length. Fold raw edge over 1"; press with iron. Fold over 1" again; press. Repeat for other end of fabric. Following instructions with grommet kit, install a grommet at each corner.
  6. Remove poles from pots. To attach outdoor fabric to poles, thread a cable tie through a drill hole, out top of pole and through grommet. Close cable tie. Repeat for remaining three poles. Insert poles with attached fabric into planters.
  7. Adjust distance between planters until you achieve amount of draping you like. Add plants to planters as desired.