Pretty Burlap Greenhouse Shades

I still love the Sunglo greenhouse that my husband, Chris, assembled last fall.

Sunglo greenhouse
Greenhouse in December, 2014, shortly after assembly of the exterior.

And, since I’m new to greenhouse gardening in general, I’m still learning new things about it.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Because of the excellent south-facing location we chose for the greenhouse and the early spring we’ve been having this year, the fan in the greenhouse has been working overtime.  The plants and seeds I started inside have been getting a little too much of some good things – namely heat and sun.

My darling greenhouse is just doing what it’s supposed to do, and it came with a shade cloth for the exterior that we realized we should install pronto for just these kinds of conditions.

A Lighter Shade of . . . Shade

Maybe I was just being naïve, but it seemed to me to be a little early in the year to install the shade cloth.  In the Pacific Northwest, the weather can turn on a dime, and we might still be faced with days of clouds, rain, and general gloominess.

So I started thinking about ways to get some light-duty shade.  Something I could install on the inside of the greenhouse that would allow filtered light and bring the temperature down just a few degrees.

At the fabric store, I ran across that good old standby, burlap.  And burlap is sometimes used in orchards and plantations to shade crops but still provide filtered light.  Perfect.

I chose this soft, pretty burlap.


Shading on the Curve

So now we had a new challenge:  How to turn the burlap into shades that would curve with the wall of the greenhouse.

Sunglo greenhouse
Greenhouse before shades

I decided I would leave the ceiling of the greenhouse un-shaded since most of the sunlight comes in from the south-facing wall.  So I would shade the curved wall down to the upper shelf.  That way, plants that needed it could be placed on the lower shelf and still get direct sunlight.

But how to make a shade fit the curve.  At first I thought we (and by “we,” I mean Chris) could install an upper rod to suspend the shades, and then a second rod farther down on the curve.  The shades would then be tucked behind the second rod so they would follow the line of the curve.

But we both hated the thought of drilling a lot of big holes and installing clunky hardware to the aluminum frame of the greenhouse.

So Chris went to the hardware store and came back with these materials.

Materials for hanging shades

That’s right, the shades would be suspended on a cable – like laundry on a clothesline.  A lower cable would keep the shades following the curve.

So only four small holes needed to be drilled – two for each cable.

Cable attachment
Cable attachment

Fun with Burlap

So now I had to get to work.  I decided to sew five simple rod pocket panels so that each window section had its own shade.  That way, individual panels could be pushed aside if we wanted more sun.

If you’ve ever done any sewing with burlap, you already know that it’s not ideal – unless you enjoy lots of downy lint and fibers floating in the air and landing everywhere.  And before it’s hemmed, burlap is an unstable fabric that tends to unravel when you look at it.

But that is all behind me now, and I’m enjoying the new shades.  And what is more important, so are the plants.

Sunglo greenhouse with home made burlap shades
Sunglo greenhouse with DIY burlap shades

The burlap has kept the greenhouse a bit cooler and provided indirect light.

Sunglo greenhouse shelves

And it looks cheerful and charming.  The greenhouse is still a fun place to be.

Sunglo greenhouse

arabian jasmine
Arabian jasmine


For my sewing projects, I use my Brother CS6000i sewing machine.  I love this machine, and it seems like Amazon always has it on sale.

I also love that Sunglo Greenhouses are made in the USA.

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