Another lesson learned from our visit to some California Koi farms was that our pond needed shade. California’s temperatures are much lower than those of Arizona yet every Koi farm had shade. Shade covering serves several purposes. It keeps the water cooler, it inhibits the growth of algae that is aided by direct sunlight and it prevents debris from going into the water. We plan to use the shade cloth during the summer (July-August-September) and take it down for the rest of the year.

This project was perhaps the most difficult we have tackled due to the very size of the shade needed. The Koi pond itself is 15” X 25” which necessitated a shade cover larger than those dimensions. We planned on a cover 18’ X 33′. The 18’ dimension would cover the pond proper – not the main waterfall or the stream waterfall. The 33’ dimension would allow the necessary posts to be set to the left and the right of the Koi pond.


Shade cloth diagram

Shade cover assembled

Shade cloth assembled

Grommet corner

Grommet corner

Our first chore was to find shade cloth. It’s readily available at big outlets like Home Depot and Lowe’s but they carry cloth no wider than 6’. I called a lot of stores and all had 6’ wide cloth. We ended up getting two rolls of shade cloth 6’ X 50’ (at a cost of $69 each) which would require cutting and piecing together to end up with the right size. Since I do not own a sewing machine I started assembling the shade cloth by hand sewing. It took a day or two for me to realize that I might finish the job by next year. So I started calling upholstery shops. I finally found one that could do my rather unusual job in a week at a cost of $75. My fingers were very grateful!

Posts in concrete

Posts set in concrete

Cables attached

Cables attached to posts

Cover attached to house

Shade cloth attached
to house

In the meantime my husband was acquiring the necessary hardware and would be setting two posts in concrete. His list included grommets – many, many grommets, turn buckles, cable, nuts and bolts, 3 pieces of rigid pipe and several bags of concrete mix at a cost of about $150. The total cost of the project was about $365.

It took a week to assemble the shade cloth and another two weeks to set the posts, string cable, insert grommets on the shade cloth and assemble pigtails, etc. We worked on it periodically and didn’t rush.

Pond covered 1

Shade cloth covering the pond

The shade cloth is up now. It looks like a giant parachute. It looks homemade and is not elegant but it is doing its job. The cloth was rated at producing 80% shade but we think it’s more like 60%. Since putting it up the surface water temperature has never risen higher than 85 degrees. Prior to putting it up we were seeing surface temperatures of 92 to 95 degrees. The water at the bottom of the pond is now between 75 and 78 degrees. Previously the bottom water temperature was 82 to 85 degrees.

There were definitely lessons learned on this project. The next time I will order the shade cloth online so that I can obtain a wider bolt of cloth that does not require so much piecing and assembly and perhaps find cloth that is denser to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the pond’s surface even more. The grommets were placed on the outside hemline of the shade cloth but there are tears next to a few of the grommets due to the tension created in stretching the cloth. I would reinforce the areas where the grommets are placed.

Would we do it again? You bet. With the new external filtration the water is incredibly clear and with the new shade the water temperature has lowered. These were the outcomes sought and we achieved them.


Fish grazing on the bottom

When the pond water was clouded with algae and the fish were not to be seen I assumed they spent the day underneath their “fish shelf.” Now that we can see them we realize that they are busy all day grazing on the algae. I am happy and the pond is happy until I dream up the next “honey-do” project.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

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