How to Create Shade in Your Backyard

A backyard is meant to be enjoyed. But what if your outdoor living areas gets too much sunlight for most of the day? When the backyard is exposed to the sun, it can be difficult to relax or play outside when summer temperatures are on the rise. Check out some of these practical and versatile ways to create shade in your backyard.

Plant Some Trees

Planting deciduous trees that you can sit under is great protection from the hot summer sun. When you need to create shade in your backyard choose trees such as maple, elm, oak, ginkgo biloba, and Japanese zelkova. Planting trees for shade has other benefits: they are inexpensive to plant; environmentally friendly; and a long-term investment. They also can add colour to your landscaping and attract birds to your garden. Select a type of shade tree that will grow fast but not too tall – around 25 to 35 feet is a good backyard height. Check local bylaws for any restrictions or special instructions/guidelines.

Install Shade Sails

Shade sails are flexible, overhead coverings that can be installed pretty much anywhere in a backyard – over a pool, patio, deck, or a patch of lawn. Common materials for shade sails are polyethylene, polyvinyl and densely woven nylon fabric. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes such as triangle, rectangle, and square. Triangular shade sails accumulate the least amount of water. They are a permanent installation, secured to posts, buildings, or trees with hooks and cables, but are relatively easy to install.

Set Up a Canopy

Like shade sails, canopies can be stalled over a patio, deck, poolside area, or grassy lawn. A canopy can be added to a pergola, either freestanding or attached to an exterior wall of the house. They can also be purchased with a freestanding frame or structure anchored to a deck, patio, or section of landscaping. A retractable canopy allows you to shade the outdoor living space during the heat of the day and then let in more light in the early evening.

Add an Awning

A backyard awning, also a type of canopy, will enhance a patio or deck that gets too much sun. While awnings are typically attached to an exterior wall, some types are installed as a freestanding structure. What kind of awning do you want? It can be left up permanently or installed so that it can be retracted either manually or motorized.

Go the Umbrella Route

There are a variety of outdoor umbrella designed for creating shade. One of the most popular and easiest ways is to purchase a patio table that includes an umbrella – this would be more suited to a deck or patio where portability is not required.

On the other hand, a market umbrella is often larger in size than a patio umbrella that is attached to a table. While the market umbrella can be used like a patio umbrella, its stand allows it to be moved around outdoor living spaces. Decide what features you’d like it to include – tilts, rotates, or has a crank handle for easy opening and closing.

A cantilever umbrella is freestanding, attached to a weighted base, and designed to stand at an angle, hanging over a person’s head. The cantilever function allows you to tilt the umbrella in numerous shade positions. Cantilever umbrellas can be installed on a patio, a deck, a pool deck, or a section of lawn near a sunny garden bed.

DIY a Pergola

A pergola, usually rectangular or square, has a slatted roof created by a series of cross beams. It can be attached to the house (two posts) or freestanding (four posts). The wider the beams are spaced apart, the more light is let in. Additional shade can be added to pergolas in a number of ways including, vines growing up and across the pergola roof or installing a retractable canopy.

Build a Gazebo

Gazebos make a great addition to your backyard. Because they have a fully enclosed roof, they provide not only shade but protection from the elements. What kind of walls do you want for your gazebo? They can be solid walls with screen panels or “walls” fashioned from retractable blinds or panels. A gazebo can be open and have curtains for walls.