“A hammock is like a steady drip of morphine, without the danger of renal failure.”
― Dale Gribble
If you don’t have a hammock in your yard, then your yard isn’t finished. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Aruba or in Alaska — there are few greater pleasures in life than swinging in a hammock on a lazy afternoon.
Sure, some climates are more “hammock-friendly” than others (ie. the tropics), but who’s to say that your hammock area can’t be built beside a fire pit, and be covered in cozy blankets and pillows, to make it more inviting during the winter months?
Outdoor hammock areas are your oasis of calm in a turbulent world. They’re your escape from the craziness of life. In this article, we’re going to give you all the tips and tricks for creating your perfect outdoor hammock area, customised to your personality, style and tastes.
Hammocks are a little slice of heaven.
Hammock area hacks
- When you hang your hammock, allow it to really “hang”. It should have a banana (or smile) shape to it. If you hang it too taught (so that it’s basically vertical), it causes a cocooning effect that puts a lot of added stress on the trees to which it’s tied or the hammock frame. If you’re into math and angles, a good way to calculate this is 30 degrees from horizontal. Allowing for a deep sag lowers the hammock’s center of gravity, which adds more stability.
- Raise the foot end above the head end around 8 to 10 inches. This helps prevent the heavier torso from slipping down towards the middle of the hammock.
- Choose your hammock material according to your climate. Thin nylon fabric, for example, is extremely breathable and will thus be nice and cool in a hot climate. Thick canvas material, on the other hand, will provide a warm and cozy base for a cooler climate.
A soft throw blanket makes any hammock area cozy.
- Avoid dead trees — also known as “widow makers” — when hanging your hammock. Dead trees are significantly weaker than live ones, and thus more prone to breakage. You could risk having a heavy limb drop on you, or worse, the entire tree collapsing (hence the cautionary nickname).
- Longer hammocks are actually more comfortable than wider ones. This is because it’s possible to lie diagonally on the longer hammocks without having to hyperextend your legs.
When hanging hammocks from trees, beware the “widow makers” — otherwise known as dead trees, which be huge hammock hazards.
- Hang your hammock from higher branches to get a better breeze and also keep away from critters that prefer the forest floor.
- If you are experiencing strain from hyperextending, try a knee pillow. Some sort of padding under your knees will help ease the stress from the tight ridge that tends to form under the legs on shorter hammocks.
- If mosquitos are a problem, hang a mosquito net. Jungle hammocks tend to come with sewn-on mosquito net, which is great. But if you want to use this opportunity to add some style to your hammock area, get one of the ones that hang from the ceiling, and hang it over your hammock from a tree branch or similar.
Mosquito netting can not only make a hammock area more comfortable, but can also pretty it up!
- Suspend the fabric of an old large trampoline by heavy rope from a tree for a unique, eco-friendly hammock.
💡Tip: To identify a dead tree, look for missing bark, damage to the root, and absence of leaves and needles.
Hammock area user hacks
- When you’re putting your hammock away, do so in a practical way. For example, if your hammock is a tree hammock, put away the tree straps last. If the straps are at the top when you put it away, it’ll make your life so much easier when you go to unpack it to hang it up again.
- Always check that your hammock is hung correctly before plonking yourself into it. Yank on your tree or stand straps to ensure they’re taught and well tied, to avoid falling flat on your bum should anything be lose or tied incorrectly.
- Lay diagonally in your hammock. Despite our natural inclination to lie in the hammock in a straight line (which can squeeze you as the sides pinch inwards), lying diagonally is actually the most comfortable way to swing.
Did you know? Adjusting your position in your hammock can actually maximize your space!
- Place a sleeping pad under (or in) your sleeping bag. If you’re in a cooler area, you may wish to use a sleeping bag to keep warm on your hammock. But when the underside of the sleeping bag (and its insulation) gets compressed underneath your body, it can cause your back to get cold. To prevent this, put a sleeping pad underneath your sleeping bag, or, to stop it from slipping, inside your sleeping bag.
- Tie a drip line onto your suspension rope on rainy days. This will prevent water from seeping down your suspension and getting your hammock wet. A drip line is a simple piece of rope that’s tied onto the line before the hammock starts, which reroutes the water to drip down to the ground, rather than down your hammock.
Step-by-step instructions for your DIY hammock stand (500 – 1000)
You’ll need some pretty basic supplies for your DIY hammock stand, along with a few more specialist items (like the hammock itself, of course). Here is everything you’ll need:
- Sun shade sail — We like this Shade Sail Triangle Canopy
- Hammock — we like this Sky Brazilian Double Hammock
- Awning attachment set — We like this Shade Sail Hardware Kit
- Anchor posts (at least 2 inches thick — you can use steel, wood, bamboo etc., and can pick up at your local builders merchant)
- Fence posts (or something similar and sturdy to hang your hammock from) 4 x 4 timber preferably, which you can pick up at your local builders merchant
- Fence post cement — We like this Sika Fence Post Mix
- Two heavy duty hooks — We like these Besthouse heavy duty hooks
- Hammer — We like this Irwin 16oz hammer
- Nails — We like these Smooth Shank Common Nails 3-Inch
- Level — We like this Aluminum Alloy Magnetic Torpedo Level
- Galvanized wire or rope — We like this Stainless Steel Aircraft Wire Rope
1. Position your sun shade
Lay your sun shade on the ground to determine the optimal position for it.
Roll out your sun shade sail and place it in position on the ground. Even better — have three people to hold the ends in the air in the rough position you envision your shade.
This way, when the sun is shining, you can actually test the positioning and gauge what location will provide you with the optimal amount of shade.
2. Mark your posts
Next, you’ll mark out the spaces for your posts by digging holes where you want them to go.
Decide where the upright posts need to be positioned in the ground for the sun shade attachment. (You might be fortunate and have walls or other parts of your house you can fix your sun shade to already — this was not the case for us).
Dig the holes for your posts to be positioned into. Ensure your hole is around 30 cm in diameter and at least 50 cm deep. Even through the sun shade is not weight bearing, the posts will still need an element of strength to deal with the wind your shade will almost certainly encounter.
3. Plant your anchor posts
Lay out your post cement mix and get ready to fix your anchor posts in position.
Get your concrete fence post mix ready to use. Using a pre-made mix, it’s usually as simple as pouring the cement into your hole, followed by the water.
Use supports to allow your post to set in place and your concrete to dry — within 24 hours, it’ll be ready!
💡Tip: Use a stick or something rigid and pointy to stab down into the concrete mix and wiggle about all around the post. This ensures the concrete has reached and bonded to the post and that there are no pockets of air.
You will need two bits of timber (per anchor post) or something similar to help each post stay level and upright overnight until the cement dries.
Take your first piece of timber and level. Once your post is vertically level, nail the timber into the side of your post and jam the bottom into the ground to ensure its position.
Now repeat this on the opposite side of the post. For the anchor post, you can use the trunk of a small tree, factory timber, bamboo, or steel. Just make sure whatever you use is at least 2 inches thick, is treated for long-term use and is strong enough to support the wind shade when it is taught.
💡Tip: Make sure to position your anchor posts at least 20 cm further away from the end of the sun shade on each side — this is to allow room for the awning attachments and tightening the ropes. For example, if your sun shade is 4 meters wide, place your poster 4.4 meters away from one another.
5. Remove timber supports
Once the anchor posts are dry, remove the timber supports from each side.
Now work out in which direction you would like the water to run off the sunshade and fix your awning attachments accordingly. An easy way to do this is to measure from the ground up the anchor post (assuming the ground is level).
Taking care to set your posts up properly will ensure you have the best hammock experience.
Decide which corner you’d like the water to run off and attach your anchor awning the closest to the ground of all your fixing points (even just a few inches will do the trick).
Finally, attach your awning attachment sets to each post and corner in which you will hang your sun shade.
6. Attach and tighten your sun shade
Your awning attachment set will look something like this. You may need to order it separately from your sun shade, as we did.
Use rope or galvanised wire to feed through each anchor point in the sun shade.
Next, feed this wire or rope around the hooks in your awning attachment set (see image above). Once this is done, begin turning the hooks to tighten the whole sun shade on each corner point. Do this until your sun shade is tight on all sides and is taught the whole way through with no creases.
You’ll want to get your shade sail nice and tight on all its corners, to ensure it will be effective and also not move too much in the wind, which can cause wear and tear.
7. Build your DIY hammock stand
Wait until the time of day that your envision using your hammock the most. At that time, mark your support post for your hammock in relevance to where the most shade is and will be for your normal chillout routine.
We used 4 x 4 inch timber for maximum support and placed our posts roughly 2.5 meters apart to allow for ample swinging room and a good sag in the hammock for comfort (remember the 30-degree hang rule as stated above).
Use the exact same system as laid out in step number 4 to attach your hammock support posts. Your hole should be around 30 cm in diameter and 70 cm deep for support.
Repeat the same steps to install your DIY hammock stand.
This depth should allow maximum support for your hammock, which means that as long as your hooks are heavy duty, your hammock should be able to support around 200 kg in one load.
Once the cement is dry, you can remove timber supports and start to attach your hammock’s hooks etc. We placed our heavy duty hooks 1.5 meters up the timber support from ground level. Our hammock sits around 30cm off the ground to ensure safety.
8. Polish your posts
Paint and/or treat your hammock posts now that they are in position.
Tip: If your using steel then make sure it is primed to avoid rust. If using wood or bamboo make sure to use a varnish or stain for protection against the elements. Termite control is also important if using wood.
9. Landscape your hammock area
To make your hammock area extra inviting, you want to have a lovely base on which to step. Remember that people will be using your hammock barefoot most of the time. Some soft grass, or well-rounded pebbles will do the trick, or you can consider sand or bark.
Just remember that whatever you put down can be tracked all over the rest of your yard (particularly sand…), and choose according to what you’re comfortable with.
10. Make it pretty with decorations
Take time to hand-select decorations to really beautify the area and make it your own. We have included some excellent ideas for decorations in the next section, but feel free to come up with your own, according to your taste, the look and feel of your yard and garden, and your family preferences.
Solar-powered lights make excellent additions to outdoor hammock areas.
Remember, you’ll be spending a lot of time here, so it’s worth investing both time and money into making it a place you’re proud of.
11. Time to hammock
Once it’s ready, don’t waste any time — get into that hammock immediately and reap the serene benefits of hammock life, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Because hammocking is a way of life.
Other outdoor hammock area ideas
- Get creative with the placement of your hammock. It doesn’t necessarily need to be tucked away in a quiet corner. Consider placing it atop a hill, so it looks out over your yard and house. Another idea is to place it between your patio and your garden area, as a divide.
- Consider a cloth hammock. These are quite trendy at the moment — particularly the bohemian-style hammocks with the frills and tassel detailing at the sides.
Trendy cloth hammocks come in boho styles that are super trendy and pretty.
- Triple threat. If you’re building hammock stands, you can try putting three posts in a circle with a wide enough breadth for decent hammock hang, and hanging three hammocks between them.
- Surround your hammock area with lots of flowers and greenery. This creates a really serene atmosphere, and adds natural decor to the area. If your hammock is enclosed, potted plants work too.
- String solar-powered fairy lights from your trees. This creates a lovely magical atmosphere for evening and nighttime hammock sessions, and being solar powered, they’re better for the environment and won’t raise your electric bill!
- Consider adding a chair hammock. These single seaters are very inexpensive and are easy to hang. They make ideal seats for a companion.
A chair hammock makes a great addition to any hammock area.
- Fill your hammock with lots of deck cushions. Make your hammock extra comfy with flat deck cushions that match your hammock area’s decor. For example, if your hammock is the bohemian macrame style, you may want to get simple beige or grey cushions with a few macrame throw pillows.
- Add a nice, breathable throw that matches your cushions and hammock decor. This adds an element of coziness to your hammock area. For cooler climates, grab a couple of thicker throw blankets.
- An outdoor side table made of wood or iron (some sort of natural material, ideally) is a great place to place your book, your coffee cup or glass of wine, and some pillar candles
- Get an extra wide hammock that’s big enough for two adults. You may not ever share your hammock, but it’s nice to have the option (and the extra space!).
Get yourself a hammock that’s big enough for two — even if it’s just going to be enjoyed by you. There’s no such thing as a hammock that’s too big!
💡Tip: Ensure candles are in a sheltered candle holder if your hammock area gets a lot of wind.
- If you have a pool, hang your hammock right beside it, or if you can fashion it, over top of a portion of it. The feeling of being suspended over water only adds to the element of relaxation.
- Wood palettes are your hammock area’s best friend. Stack them to build an outdoor sofa, table, or even to create a platform for your hammock area.
Incorporate some wood palettes into your hammock area to complete its look.
- Hang antique-style lanterns from tree branches and put a tealight in each (ideally beeswax for its health and environmental benefits).
- Keep a pretty watering can handy to remind you to water the foliage and any planted pots around the area. This will ensure your outdoor hammock area is always lush and welcoming.
- Use waterproof baskets with lids to store things like cushions and blankets when not in use.
Unique types of hammocks
There are many different kinds of hammocks out there, varying both by the fabric used, and the design of the hammock itself. Let’s take a look.
One of the most popular types of hammocks, the rope hammock encourages airflow, which makes it ideal for particularly warm climates. This type of hammock also tends to be quite durable, being able to hold up to 450 kg.
Made from nylon, parachute hammocks are among the most durable and strongest available. Their flexibility and ability to turn into a cocoon makes them practical in all sorts of situations, including bad weather. Since they can shrink down to the size of a grapefruit, this type of hammock is also extremely portable.
Designed to be strung up between trees — high in the air, low to the ground, or even over water. Its built-in rain tarp is designed to keep the user completely dry, even during heavy rainfall, while the built-in mosquito net keeps the creepy crawlies and flying foes at bay.
Made from handwoven cotton, Brazilian hammocks are perfect beachside lounging devices. They tend to have a lot of give in them, like a parachute hammock, and come in all sorts of vibrant colors.
The cotton used to fabricate these types of hammocks tends to have a tight stick but is generally thinner too. These are generally decorated with eye-catching patterns, as well as tassels and fringes. Mexican/Nicaraguan hammocks tend to be extremely strong, and are excellent companions for warm climates. Beware, though — they’re prone to mold.
Chesapeake 4-Pole Hammock
This hammock has four poles for support for extra stability and added hammock area, but still swings like a traditional hammock (sort of). Also, the stand means that this type of hammock can be set up anywhere — even in a treeless backyard.
Hanging Mesh-Wire Chair.
Yet another stand-alone hammock-type chair, this wire frame hammock is stylish and — with the right cushions — super comfortable. It’s even possible to get one that has a built-in shade umbrella.
Hanging Bed Hammock.
This type of hammock is essentially a bed, suspended from a tree. This style of hammock doesn’t give a lot of swing, but it has much more room for more people. Covered in lots of pillows and blankets, this makes a cozy spot for homework or even a picnic.
If traditional hammocks don’t appeal to you, try out the pod style.
Hanging sphere chair
These popular hammock styles can stand on their own, or are suspended from trees or branches from a thick rope. The pods can be lined with pillows and blankets to make them extra comfy and cozy.
Garden patio hammock
Another fun way to incorporate your hammock into your garden is by including it in the design of your garden gazebo. This way, the hammock will always be shaded, while enjoying the lush verdant surrounds of the garden, as well as a pleasant breeze.
Hanging pillow chair
Hang this large, fluffy pillow from your patio roof or a sturdy tree branch, from all four of its corners. It makes the comfiest chair hammock you’ll ever try!
Keeping your hammock clean
Of course, one of the major challenges with an outdoor hammock area is keeping it looking good. Outdoor areas are, of course, exposed to the elements, and even when we try to protect them, dirt, dust, mold and creepy crawlies can end up all up in our space!
Mold and mildew love to grow in damp, dark places, so your hammock area could be a breeding ground for these unsightly visitors, if you’re not careful!
- Make a homemade mold prevention spray for your hammock with water and a few drops of tea tree oil. Put it in a spray bottle, and keep it on your hammock area’s side table so that you remember to spray it frequently. Read more about how to prevent and clean mold here. Bonus: this spray will also keep the crawlies and critters away.
- Wash your hammock monthly with vinegar, baking soda, and some tea tree oil. If the mold is quite bad (and your hammock is white), consider using hydrogen peroxide too. Wash your cushion covers, macrame hangings, and any other fabric that could get moldy.
- Close your umbrella when you’re not using it. If your hammock area uses an umbrella, keeping it closed when not in use prevents it from becoming a shelf for fallen leaves and dirt (and bird poop!) from the trees and shrubbery above.
- Keep towels handy in your hammock area to wipe things down easily if they get wet or, say, a drink spills.
- Switch up the tealights in your lanterns for citronella-scented ones to keep mosquitos and other flying foes at bay.
Hammocks are a fun place to hang out, but it’s important to pay attention to certain safety procedures to ensure no one gets hurt.
Here are some basic hammock safety guidelines:
- Ensure the hammock hangs no higher than 3 feet off the ground — this way, any falls will be far less painful.
- Don’t hang your hammock overtop of water features, tables or sharp objects, or over any chasm in the ground beneath it.
- You may have seen the cool photos circulating on social media of hammock stacking — where multiple hammocks are stacked vertically, one on top of the other. Don’t copy this tactic. It may make for great photos, but it’s a massive safety hazard.
- Don’t keep food in your hammock, where it can attract dangerous animals like bears.