Some friends who are seasoned yurt dwellers told me this last year and it’s been on my mind since: it’s not the rain that’s the main problem when it comes to living in yurts in this climate, it’s the sun. The sun rots the canvas covers, and under the full glare of the Portuguese summer sun, even a heavy 12oz canvas cover like this will only last 2-3 years. At over £500 a time to replace, it pays to take some measures to lengthen the life of the covers.
Not only that, but a yurt sitting in the full summer sun gets pretty hot inside. Too hot to be really comfortable, even with the roof open and the covers lifted around the base.
Fortunately the local agricultural cooperatives sell shade netting. Even more fortunately, they stock it in 6m widths. This yurt is 5.8m diameter.
Back in April I cut some small pines up in the woods as part of necessary thinnings, stripped the bark and branches and cut them to a length that would give a more or less level height for the shade netting. I then screwed steel rings into the top of each.
I bought 12m of the 6m shade netting, doubled it over, and sewed it together along the cut and folded edges with fishing line. I then brought the selvedges of the netting together by weaving some braided steel cable through each, making a loop with an eye and clamp at each corner and every 2m to hold a shackle.
I cut a circular hole the diameter of the crown wheel in the centre.
We then fitted the netting directly over the yurt, using the top of the 3 straps girdling the circumference of the yurt to strap it on and clipping the shackles onto the lower straps for added security. It’s been in this position through the winds and rain of the last 2 months, and has done a good job of keeping the sun off the yurt covers on the better days.
Now with temperatures starting to climb again, it was time for the final part of the construction.
I preserved the bottom half meter of the now-seasoned pine poles with used engine oil and dug post holes either side of the yurt at 2m intervals. Large nails were hammered into the base of the poles roughly every 90° so that a good 80-100mm of nail protruded in each direction from the pole. The poles were sunk into the holes and backfilled with concrete to within 150mm of the surface, the nails buried in the concrete giving a firm fixing. The rest of the holes were filled with soil as I intend to grow beans up the poles.
The shackles on either side of the shade netting were then clipped into the rings at the top of each pole. The poles will also each be getting a coat of borax then linseed oil when we come to do the balcony wood up at the house.
So far the netting is performing very well. It keeps the sun off the yurt covers, as intended, and makes at least 5° of difference to the temperature inside. The structure isn’t designed to weather high winds or storms, so in these instances, the netting will be unclipped and tied down to the yurt as before.