The below is part of a reply to someone who asked me this specific question...
Q- I thought that the rainfly on my tent would be my shade. Will this work?
A- No, i'm sorry to tell you that it will not.
The difficulty is that the fly is only about 2 inches (at most) from the actual tent, which is not nearly enough to get the ventilation needed to make it effective as shade. You would need your shade structure to be two feet above the tent at the very least. Three would be better. The difficulty that this presents is that the further away the shade is from the tent, the larger it needs to be to present a useful "footprint'. The footprint will also move during the course of the day, as the sun moves across the sky. The mid-day into late afternoon is the most important coverage to have, as that is when the sun is at it's fiercest and the heat builds up the most. How you place your shade structure will depend on how your tent is oriented. Ex: If your tent is a long rectangle, and the long side is going North/South, then it will have the maximal exposure to the Sun as it travels from East to West. You would need a really wide structure to keep the tent shaded along it's whole length. This is made only more complcated by the fact that the prevailing breeze along the playa runs from Southwest to Northeast (ish). Naturally, you want your narrowest face pointing into the wind, to reduce available sail area. Yet you also want your door facing away from the wind, so you don't automatically get a snootful of dust every time you open your door. I mean, you'll get plenty of dust in your tent, don't think otherwise, but it'd be even more with the door facing into the wind. Besides, if you have to open the door when it's really windy, and the door is facing into the wind, you'd then be offering up the entire inside of your tent as sail surface... That would be bad.
What's a poor fella to do, you ask. Well, i can make some suggestions, but you'll also wanna read through every last scrap of shade structure info you can find. There's some good links in the shade structure thread.
But basically, you want the lower part of your shade structure pointing South, you want it 3 feet or so from the top of your tent, you want slits in the surface to reduce wind resistance, you want to be able to make the frame really secure to the ground and the fabric really secure to the frame. If you are driving in yourself, you might look into ways to secure the shade frame and the tent frame to your car. I've never heard of any cars blowing away, though if you have a Mini Cooper, i make no promises *wicked grin* Also, if you are driving in yourself, park your car with the nose pointing Southeast and pitch your tent on the Northeast side of it. Cars make ducky windbreaks. It has been pointed out that climbing rope, like rock climbers use, is good for tying stuff down, as the tiny bit of flex helps reduce the chance of breakage.
I'm just trying not to be liveMOOP...
Civil rights: use 'em or lose 'em!