Living in the country has its unique challenges and one of them is wind. Even on a rather normal summer day, gusty breezes come up quickly, making it almost impossible to maintain an umbrella in our wide open pool area. We’ve tried several approaches — bigger stands, rocks on top of the stand, bungee cords — and none worked reliably. It was almost impossible for us to open our pool umbrellas most days. Wanting a shade solution that was not a permanent structure, I finally came up with a great DIY umbrella base for open areas.
With a propensity to tip over, I knew that no traditional umbrella base, no matter how heavy, was going to work. The other problem with a traditional base umbrella stand is that there is always something in the way to trip over — especially when you have more than one umbrella open. So my solution was to place something deep in the ground. After a trip to the building center I came up with these relatively cheap, DIY umbrella bases.
- 8 foot round fence post – 2 inch diameter
- 2 PVC plumbing coupling adapters – see below for sizing
- pea gravel
- bungee cords
First I purchased an 8 foot round black fence post with a diameter of 5cm (almost 2 inches). This diameter is a little wider than the typical umbrella post. So next I needed something to ensure that the umbrella didn’t topple within my new stand itself. A browse through the plumbing section soon solved my problem. I found a black PVC pipe coupler that fit perfectly over the top of the fence post pipe and, when the gasket was removed, narrowed to an opening that perfectly fit my umbrella posts. I picked up two. Lastly, I picked up a small bag of pea gravel. Tada — that’s it, three items and you have yourself the makings of two umbrella supports.
Using a hacksaw, cut the fence post into two 4-foot lengths. Decide where you want to place your umbrella and dig a hole about a foot or 18 inches deep. Place the 4 foot fence post inside the hole and with a sledge hammer, pound the pipe into the ground until between 16 and 18 inches remain standing above ground. (Don’t forget to place a board on top of the post before you use your sledge hammer to protect the edges from being damaged.). Fill in the hole around the post and pack it down firmly. Pour enough pea gravel into the inside of the fence post to bring the inside depth level with the ground. You may be able to pound your fence post in directly without digging an initial hole, however I wanted to be sure I wasn’t going to hit any underground pipes or sprinkler lines so dug a hole first.
Place your PVC adapter on top, insert your umbrella and that’s it. When my umbrella is open, I use the bungee cords to anchor down the umbrellas to the nearby fence so the wind doesn’t pick the umbrellas up out of the holders. Another option would be to drill a hole in the fence post and purchase a bolt that would help anchor down the umbrella like traditional stands. I don’t find these highly successful though and have found the bungee cord works better.
Our new umbrellas hold up, open, in almost any wind we want to be out it at the pool. And closed and tied, they held up through two heavy thunderstorms with strong winds. The other advantage of this type of stand is that you can place several around your yard, and then just need to move your umbrellas, rather than heavy stands, as the sun moves.
Enjoy the shade.