Old-growth trees that tower above your home and stretch their branches wide to provide a canopy of shade on hot summer days are wonderful. But many homes -- especially homes in new neighborhoods or in certain geographic regions -- lack shade trees. How are you supposed to temper the intensity of the sun’s rays if you lack trees? Conveniently, there are a number of backyard shade coverings that will allow you to enjoy the outdoors all summer long.
The easiest and most budget-friendly shade to install, a sail shade is a triangular piece of weather-resistant, UV-protectant fabric that hangs between three points on your patio. Depending on your patio layout, you can anchor it to your house and two posts. The shade allows for flexibility, and you can even move it between several locations. Sail shades reduce heat by up to 30%, while the breathable fabric allows breezes to pass through and prevents rain from accumulating on the shade.
A long-lasting architectural feature that often provides contrasting interest to the existing stone, brick, or siding exterior of your home, a pergola makes an attractive shade structure. Build a custom pergola yourself or go simpler with a ready-to-install pergola. Wood pergolas provide an elegant canopy of shade, ideal for covering your patio table and chairs or sheltering an outdoor seating area with a tabletop fountain.
An awning adds a touch of nostalgic elegance to any outdoor space. Today’s retractable versions provide the convenience to enjoy sun or shade, depending on the time of day and weather conditions. With the push of a button, these high-tech awnings slide back and forth over your backyard seating area, protecting guests from a rain shower or allowing the glimpse of a star-filled sky.
Give yourself the atmosphere of a Mexican beach resort with a thatch-roof shaded palapa. Roofs are traditionally made of dried palm leaves, though you can also find palapas with reed, bamboo, or synthetic roofs. Purchasing a palapa kit makes these structures easy to put together so you can focus on lounging in the shade and sipping frozen tropical beverages.
Freestanding shade umbrellas can cover a large area without the need for tiresome installation. They’re easily moveable to different parts of your yard, and the levered versions allow you to tilt the umbrella to provide just the right angle of deflection against the sunlight. Umbrellas can be folded down in storms or to stash for the season.