Project name: Landscaper’s Concept – Sails at Highbrook
Material used: Z16 in Charcoal
Fabric Supplied By: Rainbow Shade NZ
Components Supplied By: Rainbow Shade NZ

What did the client request?

Our client was a landscaper who had designed and sold a client on an architectural shade sail concept, which was designed without expertise in shade sail detailing, engineering, and installation.

We were tasked with carrying out the shade sail project and making it work within the specs – three straight-line triangle shades and two rectangles, all at virtually the same height.

The designs required the internal sail fixings to be fixed directly to the house, as close as possible, with four poles for fixing on the external side just off the deck, and two beside the house on the deck.

What is unique or complex about the project?


  • A design issue was the sails were drawn as straight edges, without allowing for a catenary curve, and no gaps were allowed for between sails. We had to redesign and communicate this back to the end-customer through the landscaper.
  • We were concerned about the lack of shade to be cast so adapted the design to allow for a steeper fall at the deck edge.
  • The drawing didn’t have the minimum 3° post angle, and the two posts on the house corner needed redesigning otherwise we would’ve broken the symmetry and ended up rubbing. So, we customised an outrigger bracket enabling a cleaner visual line and allowing for practical fixing.
  • Working to the plans’ measurements was challenging to ensure accuracy of fixing positions. The plans weren’t too far off – just 100mm difference-ish to ensure stud fixing. Also tricky to ensure the four external posts were symmetrical to the measurements, and vice-versa with the building fixing points.
  • Getting the sequence right for installing each sail was tricky, especially as they were very close together.
  • Being on the same plane we couldn’t hyper them, so likely to catch more wind. It was challenging to adapt it to avoid any potential rubbing/wear.


  • We experienced communication challenges in the relay between us, the landscaper, and the end-customer, with added complexity of a language barrier with the landscaper (plus being the first job we’d done together). Our biggest issue was the landscaper not effectively passing on to the customer how our changes were going to affect the result.


  • Getting the digger in for the poles was hairy as we were augering in from the paddock over a retaining wall 1.4–1.5m high – touch-and-go! The operator found some dirt for a ramp and got the height needed to elevate the auger without hitting the wall. Glad to have the operator to help solve the challenge!
  • The concrete truck stuck in the lower paddock, because the driver decided he wanted to shoot from the bottom up, despite our concerns. Anxious moments were had while waiting for him to get unstuck while concrete was hardening! Lucky it’s funny to look back on now!

This job had plenty of challenges, but the main test was in simplifying a slightly unrealistic plan to make it workable in reality and articulating the changes with the end-customer.

What were the results of the project?

  • After it was installed we were advised it wasn’t what the customer had envisioned, and they sought to rectify this with us and the landscaper. Particularly the gaps between the sails were bigger than the concept they were sold, and they didn’t like the lower angle of the sails, which obstructed some of their rural view.
  • Initially rectification was a challenge as we were in lockdown, so getting out there was not an option and the end customer had to sit with the issue longer than we would have liked. However we were able to liaise remotely as much as possible, and when lockdown was lifted we were able to head back out there with a revised sail and lift the angle back up to a height the customer was comfortable with.
  • We were happy that we were able to help reach an outcome everyone was happy with, and the house has effective shade especially for the interior which would otherwise be blasted with sun through the large amount of glass windows and bi-folds.

The result was an important improvement to the property for shade, shelter, and aesthetic.
Overall our landscaper client was appreciative of our advice and commitment to making the job work, and we now have a good relationship, and have been asked back to do quotes since.