My mother and I brainstormed this idea last winter to deal with the oppressive heat the car gets during the summer sitting in the driveway, even with the windows open a crack. Nothing worse than hot seats, hot air and a hot steering wheel.
I took a few photos while I was making it, but it never occurred to me to make an instructable for it.
Anyway, here's how I did it (to the best of my memory).
First, I chose a good, sturdy pop-up shade that you can get in just about any store. You should measure the length, width and height of your vehicle to help choose the size of your canopy. My Honda Fit works great with a 10 x 10 canopy.
I needs to have straight legs, as opposed to the angled ones, so it can properly fit into the bases. You can probably do the bases for angled legs, but I'm too lazy for that.
Next, you need to measure the feet of the shade's legs to help determine the diameter of the PVC pipe you will need. In my case, I felt it easier to choose a smaller diameter and cut the ends of the feet off.
Then, you will need the PVC pipe. I figured that I needed 2-foot lengths, so I bought one 8-foot pipe and had Home Depot cut it for me, which gave me the four pipes.
Then you will need four bags of 50 lbs Quickcrete concrete (one bag per stand).
You will need 4 planters ( I chose plastic square planters about 18 inches wide at the top and 16 inches high.)
And you will need some bungie cords (if you don't already have some), to keep the pipes steady.
Step 1: Make the Stands
So, it's pretty simple. Take the pipe and place it in the center of the planter. Take a bungie and hook one end on the planter lip, wrap it around the pipe once and hook the other end on the opposite side of the planter. Do the same thing on the opposite direction of the planter like in the photograph.
That should hold the pipe in the center while you carefully fill the planter with one bag of concrete. Make sure the concrete is level in the planter and slowly fill with one gallon of water. poke the concrete and stir it about to ensure all the concrete gets wet and level the concrete. Make sure the pipe is level while doing this.
Do the same for the other three planters and set them aside for a few days to set and harden. Since I'd never done this before, I let them sit for about a week. I realize this is probably overkill, but I wanted to make sure.
When it is completely hardened, you're going to need to make some drain holes. First, tip the planter on its side and drill a small hole directly in the center. When the pipe section gets water in it from rain, watering, etc. this will allow the water to drain out and not rust the canopy legs.
Next, with the planter sitting properly, drill two small holes just where the top of the concrete reaches the wall of the planter. Do this for all four sides. Then repeat the holes for each planter.
Step 2: Fill the Planters
Next, fill each of the planters the rest of the way with potting soil and plant whatever low-lying, drought-resistant plants you like. I chose Ice plant, since it's very tough and once it's established you don't have to worry about watering so much. Plus it has nice small flowers.
Step 3: Arrange the Planters and Insert the Canopy
From here, what I did was take a hacksaw and CAREFULLY cut the feet of the canopy so that each leg will slip into the pipe of each planter.
I strongly recommend enlisting a friend to help with the arranging of the planters and the opening/inserting the canopy. Otherwise, you might upset the neighbors with the steady stream of obscenities of trying to do it all yourself.
Once you have the planters arranged to the maximum width of the legs of the canopy (mine is a 10-foot by 10-foot canopy BTW), open and lock the canopy and insert each leg into each pipe of the planters.
What I did after getting it settled and in place, was drill a pilot hole through the pipe and the leg in each planter and running a self-drilling bolt through to hold the canopy in place in case a wind storm should try to make off with the canopy.
I realize the images show the plants on one of the pictures, but I was making this up as I went along. It doesn't really matter, although setting the canopy *before* planting would make the planters lighter to arrange.
Step 4: Step 4: Park Your Car
Now that the shade is complete, you can park your car. You will need to be careful when parking and leaving your driveway so as to not run over your canopy. Also it helps to know when to stop when parking so your doors aren't blocked when you try to open them. I recommend tying a dangling tennis ball so it touches your windshield when you have you car parked where you need it to let you know when to stop.
I've used it all summer and it helps A LOT with the interior heat of the car. It gets warm, but you don't have to wear oven mitts when you first get in.
One more thing I should mention: these canopies tend to collect rain and bulge. I recommend putting grommets in the middle of where water puddles in the canopy tarp to help keep the rain from collecting and ruining the tarp.
Chances are that these pop-up canopies aren't meant to be used 24/7, so you may have to replace the tarp once a year, but those are cheaper than getting a new canopy.
If you have any questions, or if I've left out any information, please let me know.