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5 ways to ease the sun's rays in your backyard paradise

Throwin' shade has never been as cool

patio with table is covered by a shade sail Credit: Getty Images / KatarzynaBialasiewicz

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Summer is the season for fully embracing your patio or deck, perhaps giving it a fancy refresh or spicing up your outdoor bar setup.

But, as the dog days of summer sweep in, being outside and sitting beneath the hot sun can be brutal and decidedly un-fun.

Instead of throwing shade at your patio, it sounds like you need to create some. If you’re not sure where to start and what to buy when it comes to creating shade, consider what you require functionality-wise—total sun coverage or a light filter to keep cool? Not only can direct sunlight damage your patio structure and your furniture over time, but can leave you susceptible to sunburns and long-term skin damage.

We’ve got some thought-starters with these five patio shade ideas.

1. A patio umbrella

Patio dining set with large outdoor umbrella
Credit: Getty Images / Jawcam

Large umbrellas cover wide areas.

Do you love heading for the beach on a hot summer day to sit under an umbrella while listening to the soothing, repetitive sound of crashing waves? Well, you can achieve this kind of vibe at home, too.

Patio umbrellas provide a great amount of protection from the sun, especially if you opt for one that sprawls several feet to cover multiple people at a time.

Tune in to a meditative app for those lapping ocean waves, and you’re good to go—minus the sand—or close your eyes and listen to nearby birds chirp.

2. A retractable awning

A retractable awning is attached to the side of a house
Credit: Getty Images / Lex20

Awnings attach to the side of your house, and can either be hand-cranked operated by remote control.

Recreate a cozy, outdoor, European bistro with a shade solution that provides an intimate twist: a retractable patio awning that covers your patio or deck.

Awnings are installed directly on the side of your home. Using a crank mechanism or a remote control, you can opt to have it out—or not—deciding at any point if you want to bask in the sun or spend your time in the shade. And, awnings typically offer wider coverage than an umbrella or shade sails. This way, you can also enjoy a summer shower with a good book and a caffè freddo without getting wet.

3. Outdoor curtains

Cabana style patio with couch, pergola, and white curtains attached.
Credit: Getty Images / dzika_mrowka

Thicker curtain fabric offers more sun coverage, but for a better breeze, go for a thinner style.

When you can’t go on vacation, bring the vacation to you. Outdoor curtains are becoming a staple trend for the patio for achieving an easy-going cabana à la your poolside resort honeymoon in Mexico vibe, only steps away from your house.

Adding outdoor curtains to your pergola or gazebo can block out the sun’s rays while also creating some extra privacy from the prying eyes of your nosy neighbors. What’s more, they allow you to adjust the amount of sunlight filtering in at any point. Tie them back or pull them completely shut for protection from UV damage.

4. Solar shades

Tan solar shades block out the sun
Credit: Getty Images / Yuriy Bucharskiy

Solar shades generally have a breathable fabric to allow a breeze to flow through while protecting you from the sun.

Attaching outdoor solar shades to the framing of your deck or a pergola creates a barrier from the sun much like shades do inside your home, diffusing light to keep some sunshine coming through, but also keeping temperatures down. If you’ve ever wished for a private hideout in your outdoor sanctuary, here’s your answer.

5. Shade sails

Sail-shaped shades block out the sun
Credit: Getty Images / Dontstop

Have a plan for attaching your shade sails to something solid, like a pole or a pergola.

Ever fancy yourself aboard a sailing vessel with the sea breeze in your hair and endless ocean on the horizon? Inspired by the iconic elements of sea travel, patio shade sails can bring a modern maritime twist to your outdoor space in simple yet luxurious style.

To install patio shade sails, you’ll need to attach each end to freestanding posts or an existing infrastructure like a column or roof. Spread one over a corner of the pool, some lounge chairs, or your outdoor dining area for some nautical flair.

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