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.
I love how you used off the shelf materials to solve a problem. I’m just a little unsure of exactly is the pvc coupling adapters. A closeup picture might help. The closest I can see in the plumbing section is a union but plumbing OD measurements do not correspond to fence posts measurements and the post doesn’t fit inside the pvc fitting. Also, as a side note, all the fittings in the pvc section are white. I see no fittings in black. What type store did you buy these parts?
I really want to make this work so any help would be appreciated.
It was a long time ago but something like this is what I used.
I hope that helps!
Thanks for posting this. THIS is something I was looking for. Call me dense but I don’t understand why the factory made ones install in ground, THEN attach a bracket screwed in to the top of it? What is the point? Even for a cantilever one. I am putting these into a new concrete patio while it’s being poured so a cantilever umbrella wouldn’t pull it out anyway. Why not just bury a pipe like you did? Seems stronger to me. Am I missing something other than the cost of the factory made ones? Again, thank you.
Your welcome Christopher and I agree. We’ve had these in the ground now for 9 years and they are still holding up just like in year one!
I’ve been looking for your idea for weeks now. We also live on 10 acres and our backyard gets a lot of wind. How wide did you dig your hole for the 2 inch fence post? Also did you backfill around the post with just dirt or cement?
Thank you for such an awesome idea.
Hi Carrie. I dug the hole just shovel width and about a foot deep then pounded the post another 8 inches or so directly into the dirt. If you can pound 18 inches down you don’t need to dig a hole but I found that too difficult in our soil. It’s backfilled with soil only and pressed in. These have held for 10 years now, no issues although we put the umbrellas down when not in use or in very heavy winds. I hope the concept works for you as well.