Outdoor Shade Ideas

With the advent of warmer weather comes more outdoor activities. Those with gardens look forward to relaxing near them when spring arrives. No matter how carefully you cultivate your landscape, though, it is difficult to enjoy the outdoors in hot weather if there are no shaded areas. Many plants also need at least partial shade in order to thrive.


Plant a fast-growing shade tree in your yard. Trees take more care than manmade structures and will not instantly shade your entire yard, but once established they will add not only beauty to your landscape, but plenty of shade as well. The bald cypress and lacebark elm are two popular fast-growing shade trees.


Set up some shade with a fabric umbrella or even a shade sail, which are triangular pieces of fabric stretched between poles set deep into the ground. Umbrellas offer a popular and inexpensive way of creating instant shade, and they have the added benefit of being very portable. To shade a larger space but still have portability, consider a shade tent. These polyester structures are lightweight, making them very easy to move, and they are also easy to keep clean. Finally, if you have the budget for it, install a retractable awning on the side of your house to cover your patio area. These beautiful shade structures also keep the room in the house adjoining the awning cooler during the summer, cutting down on the cost of air conditioning.

Arbors and Pergolas

Add beauty and shade to your outdoor area in one stroke by constructing an arbor or pergola, or buy one premade. These open, airy structures are usually made of wood and can be quite expensive. They add beauty to any landscape. The roofs of arbors and pergolas are rafters with spaces between them, which are in turn supported on four columns. Many people chose to plant vines at the base of the columns, which grow and entwine around the rafters, creating thick shade during the growing season. It is also possible to purchase a clear, shaded covering to place on top of the rafters, such as a piece of tinted fiberglass, but this can also create heat underneath the structure. For an exotic look, install a palapa. These are similar to arbors, but are usually smaller, often with only one pole supporting rafters that are covered with thatch made to look like palm branches.

Keywords: outdoor space, shade structures, landscape

About this Author

April Sanders has been a writer and educator for 11 years. She is a published curriculum writer and has provided academic content for several subscription databases. Sanders holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in social psychology and a Master's degree in information sciences and technology.