I have a small pond made from a 280 gallon stock watering tank. It receives full sun all day, and, with roughly 10 goldfish and koi, is highly susceptible to string algae, despite weekly cleanings and a homemade filter for the pump. Having built a pond pergola for our 1800 gallon pond in the back, we had some scrap lattice laying around, so I decided to try my hand at a fewer, small scale projects, like my Potato Raised Bed, and this pond shade.
Why build a pond shade? It cuts down on water loss from evaporation, gives your more sensitive bog plants some relief from sun exposure, and adds a conversational piece to your garden.
Step 1: Gather Up Materials and Tools
I'm a lazy builder/crafter. I tend to build projects around what I have on hand, and save hardware from everything I scrap. In this project, I used two wooden fence rails, an old rake handle about 49" long, leftover lattice, a solar shade a friend had pulled off his 70's double wide trailer, four L brackets, a pallet board cut to the width of the lattice, and lots of various sized screws and staples.
For my tools, I used my 18v wireless Ryobi drill, circular saw, zip saw (not pictured), stapler, and clamps, scissors.
Step 2: Prepare the Fence Rails
Cut the fence rails to fit the length of your lattice. Rest both boards on their long sides.
Step 3: Cut Pallet Board
Cut the pallet board length to match the width of the lattice. Screw pallet board lengths to fence rails, being careful to go slowly so as not to split the wood. You could pre-drill each hole, but you will be doubling the time it takes to complete this project.
Step 4: Attach Lattice
Carefully line lattice, pretty side up, onto the pallet boards. Lattice is an easy material to work with, as you can pull and push it into place thanks to it's accordion design. Don't tweak it too much or you'll break the staples currently holding each slat in place.
Once in place, screw lattice onto pallet boards. I do not recommend screwing or stapling the lattice onto the fence board: you will wind up with a lot of busted slats and wasted hardware.
Step 5: Cut More Pallet Boards
Take another two pallet boards and cut in half. Determine how long you actually want them to stick out from the sides of the shade, clamp together two of the cut boards, and cut at an angle. Do the same with the other two boards. Take the L brackets, and screw onto the uglier sides of the pallet boards. Make sure that the pretty sides are the outsides. Now screw the L brackets into the fence rails. I measured 15" from the center of the rails, and screwed the pallet wood so that they were staggered. You don't have to do this, you can screw the boards to form a simple cross shape if you like.
Step 6: Add Brace
Add a brace to keep the arms from tipping in towards one another. I used a piece of 1"x2" scrap board from a sweet pea frame I built two years ago. I simply measured the space in between the arms where they joined with the fence rail, transferred the measurement to the scrap board, and cut. Then I attached this to the tip of the arms, using a screw in each end.
Step 7: Attach Sun Shade Material
For this step, you could use left over lattice, sun shade material, or even a net or stapled ribbon.
I was finally out of scrap lattice, so I used sun shade material a friend had pulled off his '70's double wide. I cut the material to overlap the sides of the arms by an inch, then folded the excess underneath each side and stapled it to the arms. I then trimmed off excess using scissors.
Step 8: Add Legs
If you don't mind resting your shade on top of your pond edge, and don't get much wind, you are essentially done. However, if, like me, you want to have some space between pond surface and shade, because either a) you have plants or b) you want to see the fish, you can add legs.
My boyfriend had recently cleaned out his storage shed and had tossed out some broken yard tools with perfectly awesome handles. I, of course, salvaged what I could, including a rake and it's handle. I turned the rake into my small garden tool rack, and the handle I cut into quarters and screwed to the inside of the fence rails. For added strength, I screwed down from the top of the pallet boards using long deck screws.
Step 9: Place Over Pond
If you wanted to, you could paint or stain or finish the wood. I chose not to, as I really like the look of weathered wood. So the final step of this project is to just place it where you want. Mine fit exactly the outside length of my pond.
It is easy to move out of the way for pond maintenance, does not get in the way of providing just enough sunlight to all my reeds, iris, and lily pads, and gives my fish some more shade to hide in when it gets hot out...