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Patio Umbrella

When the temperature rises, shade can be a precious commodity. In direct sunlight, temperatures can feel about 10 to 15 degrees hotter than real air temperatures. But you don’t need to totally hibernate inside on warm days. Discover several clever shade-creating additions that can help you beat the summer heat while you enjoy the outdoors.

Deck Umbrellas: Portable Shade Solutions

Deck Umbrellas

Image via Flickr by marissa

Putting up a deck umbrella is one of the easiest ways to add shade to decks and outdoor living spaces. Simply install the umbrella in a precut area of your deck or use an umbrella base for support.

The larger your umbrella, the more shaded space it will give you. You should consider how much shade you need and how large of an area you want to keep shaded. A large umbrella might create substantial shade, but it could look out of proportion on a small deck. Landscape designers suggest umbrellas should measure the width of your outdoor table setting, plus an extra 2 feet on each side. In other words, an umbrella with a diameter of 8 feet will suit an outdoor space with a 4-foot round table.

An umbrella’s height is also important. Your umbrella should be tall enough so that you don’t have to duck to get underneath it, but you also don’t want it so high that your shade becomes reduced. Your umbrella should be at least 7 feet, but you may need a larger height if you or others are tall.

Umbrellas that tilt can help you maximize your shade as the sun moves throughout the day. Aluminum frames are stronger than fiberglass, so choose fiberglass frames if you’re using your umbrella in strong winds.

Umbrella hinges must be maintained to stay in good working order. Frequently lubricate the hinges and store the umbrella in its protective cover when you’re not using it.

Shade Sails: Colorful, Affordable Options

Shade sails

Shade sails are triangular pieces of high-strength nylon that you can suspend to create shade over patios, alfresco dining areas, and other outdoor living spaces. Shade sails can be attached to trees, rigid parts of your home (such as exposed rafter ends), or posts you erect yourself. Shade sails are easy to install and disassemble. If you’re not sure how to install them, ask a professional to help you. Incorrect installation can damage your shade sail.

Since shade sails are available in a range of colors and patterns, they can be a colorful way to add shade to your outdoor spaces. Shade sails are available at a range of price points, depending on fabric quality, which includes UV-resistance credentials and accompanying hardware.

You’ll want to maintain your shade sail to prolong its life. Wet leaves, bird droppings, and mold and mildew can stain and damage your shade sail, so clean it regularly with water and a soft-bristled brush. Mild detergents can help remove stubborn stains without damaging the fabric.

Keep in mind a few cautions: Shade sails are not fire-retardant and are not recommended for barbecue areas. Shade sails are also not made to withstand harsh storms either, so when inclement weather threatens, take down your shade sail. Store your dry shade sail in a protective storage space when you’re not using it.

Awnings: Fabric and Frame Sail Structures

Awning

Awnings are like shade sails mounted to metal frames that attach to a rigid structure like your house or deck. Choose from canopy awnings, which offer semi-permanent shade, or retractable awnings, with fabric which rolls away when not in use. The shade in canopy awnings can’t be easily removed, but the lack of moving parts tends to help them last. While retractable designs are easy to use, they don’t always throw enough shade to cover most decks.

Awnings are typically tougher than shade sails. Although awnings are not made to withstand hurricanes, rain and hail shouldn’t trouble them. As with shade sails, you’ll want to keep your awnings clean to help the fabric last and look its best.

Pergolas: Clever Shade Structures

pergola

Image via Flickr by Nieve44/Luz

A pergola is a free-standing structure that can be used to create a large shaded area outdoors. Pergolas have four columns or posts supporting a roof-like structure. Most commercial pergolas have fabric roofs instead of solid ones.

When looking for a pergola for your backyard, consider the size and shape of your yard or the area you want shaded. Your pergola should be large enough to create the amount of shade you need, but so large that the structure seems out of proportion. Do you want a portable pergola that you can put into storage when the weather cools or one that will stay standing throughout the year?

Gazebos: Pergola-Like Shade Structures

gazebo

Gazebos are like pergolas, but they often have eight supporting columns instead of four. These added support columns help make gazebos more stable. While pergolas typically have flat roofs, the roof of a gazebo is usually pitched. You’ll find variety in gazebo styles, including wood, glass, and metal-framed structures that have rounded or angular sides that are either open, partially closed, or completely enclosed.

As with pergolas, carefully consider the size of your gazebo. Your gazebo should strike the right balance between being large enough to provide adequate shade without being too large for your outdoor space. Since gazebos aren’t usually portable, as some pergolas are, consider one that naturally fits your living space. Wooden gazebos can look stylish, especially if you plant climbing vines or flowers up the plants. However, make sure you choose one made from wood that’s resistant to rotting in the rain, such as Western red cedar.

With these shade-creating backyard ideas, you don’t need to spend another summer hiding away from the heat. These great items will make your outdoor spaces attractive and comfortable even in the warmest weather.

Do you have additional shade-creating ideas? Share them in the comments section below.

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Michelle Thompson