4 Backyard Shade Ideas to Spruce up Your Space

Mar 31, 2023 / Liset Marquez

Are you eager to spend more time outdoors this summer but need some backyard shade ideas to spruce up space and beat the heat?

Creating a comfortable outdoor living space can help for entertaining too.

“A lot of our clients are looking for shade solutions; we spend a lot of time designing shade solutions,”; said Allison Messner, CEO and co-founder of Yardzen, an online landscaping platform.

We’ve looked at four different backyard shade ideas that can protect you from the sun this summer and make spending time outdoors more fun.

Natural Shade Landscaping

The best solution might already be in your backyard or be something you can grow, like a tall hedge.

“It’s great if you have a mature tree,”; Messner said. “People overlook the fact that it’s actually serving this beautiful and wonderful function for their family and their home.”;

Yardzen works remotely with a homeowner to connect them with a landscape architect or designer and a horticulturist to come up with a custom design for their backyard.

If you’re looking to adding some plants for shade, Messner acknowledged vegetation could be a slow-going process for adding shade.

“If you want shade right away, it will come at a cost,”; said Kent Mitchell, landscape designer and owner of Outer Spaces Exterior Design.

For example, a young tree may cost $100 but only be 5-feet tall. Even then, Mitchell said it might be years before it serves its purpose, providing you relief on those warm summer days.

Mitchell explained that planting an 8-foot tree will give instant results but is likely to cost over $500.

To speed things up if you’re planting smaller, you can research and ask at your nursery for varieties that thrive in your area and are fast-growing. Just remember that those may also be the plants you have to trim more often when they mature.

Mitchell suggests paying attention to the path of the sun — both in summer and winter — as you’re designing your outdoor space.

“Shade tends to be most valuable in summer afternoons when temperatures are at their highest,”; Mitchell said. “Strategize your plantings to have the most shade impact where and when you want it.”;

Umbrellas for Shade

cantilever umbrella for backyard shade

Messner said if you’re looking for an option with instant results, then a cantilever umbrella is a simple solution and can be easier to tuck under than a more traditional outdoor umbrella, which also works.

Most umbrellas can also be adjusted to block the sun throughout the day.

Not only can you find these in more home improvement stores or online, but they come in a range of sizes and colors to suit your backyard needs. Depending on the quality of fabric, and how well you maintain them, they can last you for several years.

Shade Sails

backyard shade sails provide relief from sun

For something fixed that often provides more coverage, along with some design flair, you could consider a shade sail for your space.

The shade sails offer UV protection and are made out of material that includes PVC material, which helps it last 5-10 years. We found some that were well rated online and that cost less than $50 for homeowners on a budget.

You can attach the sail to a tree, house or pergola to perfect your outdoor rooms for summer. Depending on the material you choose, a sail could cool your space by double digits.

Sails come in different sizes, and many more shapes than umbrellas, from standard rectangles and triangles to something more artful. And you can add as many or as little as you want to create a canopy of shade.

Some sails even come with lights, or you can add them yourself.

Shade Structures

rendering of sleek backyard pergola

For a larger living area, you could consider a shade structure, with room even for different seating areas. It may help to know that pergolas can look pretty cool these days.

You can choose to build with wood or even metal, which is more expensive, according to Messner. When she can, she steers clients away from using plastic, which often does not last.

If you use wood for your outdoor spaces, consider what’s going to last.

“This is where having an expert is super helpful because there are certain types of wood that do withstand certain elements, and there are others that don’t,”; she said.

And with proper maintenance, Messner said your wood structures could last a long time.

Another option that Mitchell favors is adding canopies to cabana pergola structures. An awning retracts when you don’t need it.

“You can pull them out when you need shade, but they remain bunched together when not in use, limiting their exposure to the elements,”; he said. “Plus, they look great.”;

Calculate Costs to Save on Shade

Messner suggests you only spend on items you are going to use long term. That way, you can look for deals on items that will last for many seasons rather than having to change course and shop often.

A complete yard renovation can cost about $30,000, Messner said, she has helped clients design their dream space with a budget as low as $5,000.

“They are all great options,”; Messner said. “It just depends on what you want to spend and the look you’re going for.”;

If you’re looking for some outdoor furniture, then read our blog to learn How to Shop Like a Pro at a Flea Market to Furnish Your Space.

Don’t forget to checkout 3 Cool DIY Outdoor Wood Projects To Organize Your Backyard.

Before your next outdoor gathering, be sure to read tips on beer storage in our article Brewers Crack Open Tips on How to Store Beer.

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