Justin Newcombe has the solution for maximising your time in the sun without the burn

Getting your umbrella in the right spot can be a surprising cause for concern as the summer sun hits. So much so that many of us, myself included, have jettisoned the idea of an umbrella altogether in favour of a sail, an extremely large hat, or a tree. And at the beach nowadays, I've noticed there is trend toward rolling up and pitching a tent for the picnic. Last summer looked more like an afternoon on K2 than rather than an afternoon at Takapuna Beach.

But back to the brolly. During the last few years I've had the pleasure of lunching with some friends who are brolly people. No sails for them, although they do have big hats. And I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with their set-up. Firstly, they don't have one of those weighted stand things that you either stub your toe on or that fall over when the wind gets up. They certainly don't have the brolly banged in the middle of the table, which to me has always seemed a little anti-social, usually because I'm the one who gets stuck in front of it.

I do concede it is a good thing to butt your plate up against when you're trying to push the remnants of the coleslaw on to your plastic fork, but that's about it. During my lunch under the umbrellas, I realised that I didn't feel impeded by a couple of poles sticking out of the pavers off to one side. That way the protection from the sun, like the lamb, was excellent.

The reason for this unrestricted shade was that instead of the umbrellas being set up on some kind of stand, holes had been punched directly into the pavers. These holes were strategically placed so the sides of the umbrellas touched, making the protection from the sun seamless. Better still, later in the afternoon the umbrellas could be moved to different positions, or closed, to let us bathe in the last of the summer sun.


The last time I was at Bunnings there were some pretty flash sun umbrellas available that could be cradled over the top of your patio and can be easily adjusted to tilt, swing and move as the sun does. But you know me, I'd rather make up my own solution.

So, some well-positioned, straight-in-the-ground sun brollies may be just the thing to shelter you from the rays this summer. Deep down inside (where it's always sunny) we know it's going to be a scorcher this year.

Step 1: Think about how you use your patio, where the sun comes around, where you sit and how you access it from the house. It makes no sense to spend thousands on your indoor/outdoor-flow and then put an umbrella pole right in the middle of it. Open your umbrellas (I recommend getting two the same) measure from the post to the edge, then double it. This will be how far apart your holes will be.

Step 2: Using a masonry hole-cutter drill a hole into the pavers. Use water to lubricate the hole. As always, make sure you use a transformer: this is mixing water and power, folks. It is steady as she goes with this sort of cutting job, so don't be in a rush. If you've got a solid concrete patio it may be worth hiring a professional concrete cutter to come in to do this bit.

Step 3: Remove the paver and dig out the base course. In my situation I've got small pavers so I've just pulled a few up. Your hole needs to be 150mm wide and 150mm deep.

Step 4: Slide a piece of aluminium or stainless steel tube into the hole in the paver to act as a sleeve.

Step 5: Reset the pavers into the ground in a bed of plaster. To stop the plaster filling up the tube, stuff it with newspaper. Make sure that the plaster surrounds the bottom of the sleeve. Any protruding sleeve can be cut it off at ground level.

Step 6: Replace any pavers and point if necessary. Finally, clean any concrete or plaster off the tiles thoroughly, with a sponge.