shade cloth outside greenhouse

When cultivating plants in a greenhouse, one crucial aspect that often goes overlooked is the strategic placement of shade cloth. This seemingly simple decision—whether to place the shade cloth inside or outside the greenhouse—can have a profound impact on plant health, growth, and the overall microclimate within the structure.

The choice between internal and external shading is not merely a matter of preference but involves a complex interplay of factors such as light diffusion, temperature control, and protection against elements.

While both approaches have their distinct advantages and disadvantages, understanding their implications is essential for optimizing plant growth and ensuring the efficiency of the greenhouse. In this article, we delve into this topic, aiming to provide helpful insights for both gardeners and horticulturists.

Benefits and Drawbacks of External Shade Cloth

The use of external shade cloth in greenhouses comes with its own set of benefits and challenges. Understanding these can help greenhouse owners make informed decisions about their shading strategies.

Benefits of External Shade Cloth

  • Improved Temperature Control: By placing the shade cloth outside, it blocks excessive sunlight before it enters the greenhouse. This helps in maintaining a cooler and more stable temperature, which is crucial during hot weather.
  • Enhanced Light Distribution: External shading reduces the intensity of direct sunlight, allowing for more diffused and even light distribution. This can prevent issues like leaf burn and ensure even growth of plants.
  • Reduced Heat Buildup: As the shade cloth is outside, it prevents heat from building up inside the greenhouse, which can be beneficial for plants sensitive to high temperatures.

Drawbacks of External Shade Cloth

  • Exposure to Elements: Being outside, the shade cloth is more exposed to weather conditions like wind, rain, and UV rays, which can lead to quicker wear and tear, requiring more frequent replacement.
  • Less Control Over Internal Conditions: While external shading efficiently blocks heat, it offers less flexibility in managing the internal environment of the greenhouse compared to internal shade cloth.
  • Installation and Maintenance Challenges: Setting up and maintaining external shade cloth can be more challenging and may require additional structural support, especially in areas with strong winds.
Aspect Advantages Disadvantages
Temperature Control Blocks sunlight, maintains cooler temperature
Light Distribution More even and diffused light
Heat Buildup Prevents internal heat buildup
Exposure to Elements More wear and tear
Internal Conditions Control Less flexibility in environment management
Installation and Maintenance More challenging, requires additional support

In conclusion, while external shade cloth offers significant benefits in terms of temperature and light management, it also comes with challenges related to durability and maintenance. The choice of using external shade cloth should be based on the specific needs of the greenhouse and the local climate conditions.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Internal Shade Cloth

The decision to use internal shade cloth in greenhouses is crucial for effective plant growth. Here, we explore the pros and cons of this choice.

Advantages of Internal Shade Cloth

  • Enhanced Light Diffusion: Internal shade cloths help diffuse sunlight more evenly throughout the greenhouse, promoting uniform plant growth and reducing the risk of direct sun damage.
  • Easier to Install and Adjust: Since they are placed inside, these shade cloths are typically easier to install and adjust. This allows for more flexibility in adapting to different plant needs and weather conditions.
  • Protection from External Elements: Being inside, these cloths are less exposed to external elements like wind and rain, potentially leading to a longer lifespan and less frequent replacements.

Disadvantages of Internal Shade Cloth

  • Less Effective in Heat Reduction: Internal shade cloths may not be as effective in reducing temperatures since the heat has already entered the greenhouse.
  • Potential for Increased Humidity: By trapping warm air inside, internal shade cloths can increase humidity levels, which might require additional ventilation to mitigate.
  • Maintenance Requirements: They can accumulate dust and debris more quickly than external cloths, necessitating regular cleaning to maintain their effectiveness.
Aspect Advantages Disadvantages
Light Diffusion Even sunlight distribution
Installation and Adjustment Easier to install and adjust
Protection from Elements Less wear and tear
Heat Reduction Less effective in reducing heat
Humidity Levels Can increase humidity inside
Maintenance Requires frequent cleaning

In summary, internal shade cloths offer benefits like improved light diffusion and easier maintenance, but they also come with challenges such as less effective heat reduction and increased humidity. The choice between internal and external shade cloth should be tailored to the specific conditions of the greenhouse and the needs of the plants being cultivated.

How Do I Decide Shade Cloth Be Inside Or Outside Greenhouse

Deciding whether to place a shade cloth inside or outside your greenhouse involves considering several key factors:

Climate Conditions:

  • High Heat and Intense Sunlight: If you are in an area with intense sunlight and high temperatures, external shading might be more effective. It blocks the sun’s rays before they enter the greenhouse, reducing heat buildup.
  • Mild Climate: In milder climates, internal shading might be sufficient, especially if overheating is not a major concern.

Plant Requirements:

  • Light Sensitive Plants: For plants that require diffused light or are sensitive to direct sunlight, internal shading can provide better light diffusion.
  • Heat Sensitive Plants: If your plants are sensitive to high temperatures, external shading could be more beneficial to keep the internal environment cooler.

Greenhouse Structure:

  • Durability: External shade cloths may need to be more durable to withstand weather elements like wind and rain.
  • Space and Setup: Consider if your greenhouse structure allows easy installation of external or internal shade cloths.

Maintenance and Cleaning:

  • External shades might require more frequent maintenance due to weather exposure.
  • Internal shades are generally easier to access for cleaning and adjustments.

Cost and Budget:

  • External shading systems might be more costly upfront due to the need for more durable materials and possibly more complex installation.
  • Internal shading systems might offer a more cost-effective solution with potentially lower installation costs.

Humidity Control:

  • In humid climates, external shading can help reduce moisture buildup inside the greenhouse.
  • In drier climates, internal shading might be adequate if combined with good ventilation.

Key Considerations for Internal vs. External Shade Cloth in Greenhouses

Factor Internal Shade Cloth External Shade Cloth
Climate Suitable for mild climates Better for high heat and intense sunlight
Plant Sensitivity Ideal for light-sensitive plants Preferred for heat-sensitive plants
Durability Standard durability Higher durability for weather resistance
Installation Easier to install and adjust May require complex setup and more space
Maintenance Easier to clean and maintain Needs more frequent maintenance
Cost Generally more cost-effective Potentially higher due to material and setup
Humidity Control Adequate in drier climates; less effective in humidity Helps reduce moisture in humid climates

Ultimately, the decision should be based on a careful assessment of your specific greenhouse conditions, the climate you are operating in, and the needs of the plants you are cultivating.

Can I Use Both Internal and External Shade Cloth Together

Yes, you can use both internal and external shade cloths together in a greenhouse, and doing so can offer several benefits:

Enhanced Temperature Control

External shade cloths can block a significant portion of sunlight and heat before it enters the greenhouse, while internal cloths can further moderate the light and temperature. This dual approach can be particularly effective in regions with very high temperatures.

Improved Light Diffusion

External cloths handle the harshness of direct sunlight, and internal cloths help to evenly distribute the light that does enter. This can be beneficial for plants that prefer diffused light.


Using both types of cloths allows more control over the internal environment of the greenhouse. You can adjust either the internal or external cloth depending on the weather conditions and the needs of your plants.

Protection and Durability

The external cloth bears the brunt of weather exposure, potentially extending the life of the internal cloth. Additionally, the internal cloth can provide extra protection to plants on extremely hot or bright days.

However, there are also considerations to keep in mind:

  • Cost and Installation: Using both types of shade cloths will increase initial costs and installation complexity.
  • Maintenance: Both systems will require maintenance, and having two systems can double the effort required.
  • Ventilation: Ensure adequate ventilation to prevent overheating and humidity build-up, especially when using both shading options.

When deciding to use both internal and external shade cloths, consider the specific requirements of your greenhouse, including the local climate, the types of plants you are growing, and your ability to maintain both systems. It’s a balancing act between achieving optimal growing conditions and managing the practical aspects of greenhouse maintenance.

How to Install Shade Cloth Inside Or Outside Greenhouse

Installing both internal and external shade cloths in a greenhouse involves different approaches for each, and it’s important to consider the structure and layout of your greenhouse. Here’s a general guide for installation:

Installing Shade Cloth Inside Greenhouse

  1. Measure and Cut: Measure the interior of the greenhouse where the shade cloth will be installed. Cut the cloth to size, allowing a little extra for secure attachment.
  2. Attach to Frame: Use clips, hooks, or ties to attach the shade cloth to the greenhouse frame. The attachment method will depend on the type of frame your greenhouse has. Make sure the cloth is taut to avoid sagging.
  3. Ensure Even Coverage: The cloth should be evenly spread across the area you want shaded. Avoid blocking vents or doors.
  4. Regular Adjustments: Set up the internal cloth so it can be easily adjusted or retracted as needed, based on the changing light and temperature conditions.

Installing Shade Cloth Outside Greenhouse

  1. Measure and Cut for Overhang: Measure the outside of your greenhouse, ensuring the cloth extends beyond the edges for adequate coverage. Cut the cloth accordingly.
  2. Secure Over Greenhouse: Drape the cloth over the greenhouse, making sure it covers all sides evenly. It’s important to have overhang on all sides to block sunlight effectively.
  3. Attach Firmly: Secure the cloth to the ground or to a frame using stakes, ropes, or heavy-duty clips. The cloth needs to withstand wind and weather, so ensure it is anchored tightly.
  4. Check for Gaps: Make sure there are no gaps where direct sunlight can enter, especially on the sides. Adjust the cloth as necessary for complete coverage.
  5. Ensure Accessibility: Ensure that doors, vents, and other functional parts of the greenhouse are still accessible and operable.

General Tips:

  • Choose the right shade cloth density for your needs, depending on the plants you are growing and your local climate.
  • Consider weatherproof and UV-resistant materials, especially for the external cloth.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain both the internal and external cloths for any wear or damage.
  • Check local regulations or greenhouse manufacturer guidelines for any specific installation requirements or restrictions.

Remember, while these are general guidelines, the specifics can vary based on the type and size of your greenhouse, as well as the local climate conditions. If unsure, consult with a professional for advice tailored to your particular setup.

Case Studies: Internal vs. External Shading in Greenhouse

This section focuses on real-world examples to illustrate the differences between internal and external shading in greenhouses.

Case Study 1: Hot and Sunny Climate

Shading Method: External Shade Cloth

Outcome: The external shade cloth effectively reduced internal temperatures by up to 15°F (approx. 8°C) degrees Fahrenheit on extremely hot days. This led to a noticeable improvement in the health and yield of heat-sensitive crops like lettuce.

Case Study 2: Cooler, Variable Climate

Shading Method: Internal Shade Cloth

Outcome: The internal shade cloth provided sufficient light diffusion on sunny days while retaining beneficial warmth. This resulted in improved growth of cool-weather crops such as kale and spinach.

Case Study 3: High Wind Area

Shading Method: Combination of Internal and External

Outcome: Due to frequent high winds, external shade cloth was often damaged. A combination of both internal and external shading provided a balance of light control and temperature management with reduced maintenance needs.

Case Study 4: Humid Tropical Climate

Shading Method: External Shade Cloth

Outcome: External shading reduced the risk of overheating and humidity-related diseases in the greenhouse, benefiting tropical plant varieties.

Case Study Climate Shading Method Outcome
1 Hot and Sunny External Reduced temperatures, improved crop health
2 Cooler, Variable Internal Balanced light and warmth, better growth for cool-weather crops
3 High Wind Combination Balanced light control, temperature management, reduced maintenance
4 Humid Tropical External Reduced heat and humidity issues, healthier tropical plants

In conclusion, these case studies demonstrate that the choice between internal and external shading in greenhouses depends on various factors including climate, local weather conditions, and specific crop needs. By examining these real-world examples, greenhouse owners and managers can better understand the practical applications and benefits of each shading method.


In summary, the decision on whether to use internal or external shade cloth in a greenhouse is a multifaceted one. This choice significantly impacts plant growth, temperature regulation, and overall greenhouse efficiency. We have explored how factors like climate, light management, and maintenance needs play into this decision, providing a clear understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of both internal and external shading options.

The case studies highlighted practical scenarios, demonstrating that the optimal choice varies based on specific environmental conditions and crop requirements. Whether it’s managing intense sunlight in hotter climates or ensuring even light distribution in cooler areas, the right type of shading can make a substantial difference.

For greenhouse owners and operators looking to optimize their plant growth and create the most suitable environment for their crops, considering these factors is crucial. And if you’re in need of high-quality shade cloth, QiBang Netting offers a range of options to suit your specific greenhouse needs. Feel free to contact QiBang Netting for more information and to find the best shading solution for your greenhouse. Remember, the right shade cloth can be a game changer in your agricultural endeavors.

FAQs About Greenhouse Shade Cloth

Q: What is a shade cloth?

A: A shade cloth is a fabric used in greenhouses to control light and temperature, helping to create an ideal growing environment for plants.

Q: Why use shade cloth in a greenhouse?

A: Shade cloth reduces excessive sunlight and heat, protecting plants from harsh conditions and helping to maintain a consistent temperature.

Q: Should greenhouse shading nets be inside or outside?

A: Greenhouse shading nets placed outside efficiently block excessive sunlight, reducing heat buildup and protecting plants. This setup is easier for installation and adjusting. When placed inside, nets offer precise light control and are shielded from the elements, potentially extending their lifespan but are less effective at cooling.

Q: How do I choose the right shade cloth?

A: Consider the light requirements of your plants and the climate. Shade cloths come in different densities, with higher densities blocking more light.

Q: Can I use shade cloth all year round?

A: It depends on your plants and climate. In some climates, shade cloth may be needed year-round, while in others, it’s only necessary during the hottest months.

Q: Can shade cloth save on energy costs?

A: Yes, by moderating temperature and light, shade cloth can reduce the need for additional cooling systems, thus saving on energy costs.

Q: Is there a difference in cost between internal and external shade cloth?

A: Generally, the cost is similar, but external shade cloth might require a more durable material due to weather exposure, which can increase the cost.

Q: How often should I replace my shade cloth?

A: This depends on the material quality and environmental conditions. Regularly check for wear and tear, especially if it’s used outdoors.

Q: Are there any plants that shouldn’t be grown under a shade cloth?

A: Plants that require full, direct sunlight for most of the day might not thrive under a shade cloth. Always consider the specific light needs of your plants.