Home & Garden

5 fun, shady ideas to keep your backyard paradise cool

Beat the heat in style

Outdoor living area by a lake facing a large pool with an outdoor couch, outdoor curtains, lounge chairs, and an umbrella Credit: Getty Images / TerryJ

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Let’s face it—this is the perfect summer for discovering a newfound appreciation for the outdoors. You’ve fully embraced your patio or deck the past few months, perhaps giving it a furniture refresh or spicing up your outdoor bar setup.

But, now, the dog days of summer have arrived, and sitting beneath the hot sun in record-setting temperatures can be brutal and decidedly un-fun.

Instead of throwing shade at your patio, it sounds like you need to create some. But, if you’re not sure where to start and what to buy when it comes to patio sun shades, 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. Cover your patio with a sprawling shade 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.

Shade umbrellas provide a great amount of protection from the sun, especially if you opt for a sizable patio-style one like this 10-foot hanging umbrella that sprawls several feet to cover multiple people at a time. You can select a design that pairs well with your outdoor décor, because there is a wide variety of colors available. Reviewers love its simple set-up and adjustability, which allows you to move the umbrella into several different angles.

Tune in to a meditative app for those lapping ocean waves, and you’re good to go—minus the sand.

2. Total sun protection with a retractable patio awning

Credit: Getty Images / Solidago

Some awnings can be hand-cranked, while others come with a 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 bright retractable patio awning is water- and UV-resistant, providing cover from both sunshine and rain. Now you can enjoy a summer shower with a good book and a caffè freddo without getting wet.

3. Pull outdoor curtains on the sun

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, just steps away from your house.

Add outdoor curtains to your pergola or gazebo; these will 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.

These cabana curtain panels softly filter light, while blocking out heat.

4. Outdoor solar shades bring indoor design outside

Solar shade
Credit: Coolaroo

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

By attaching them to the framing of your deck or a pergola, outdoor solar shades create 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. They are yet another example of this summer’s patio trends of bringing indoor style out of doors. If you’ve ever wished for a private hideout in your outdoor sanctuary, here’s your answer.

With over 700 5-star ratings, this outdoor roller shade claims to block up to 80% of harmful rays. Reviewers even note how it keeps rain from drenching their outdoor seating area, too.

5. Patio shade sails offer breezy coverage

Shade sail
Credit: ShelterLogic

Be sure you have a plan for what structures you'll attach a shade said to.

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.

This square shade sail comes with a basic hardware kit, along with the rope necessary to secure it properly. And, this triangle-shaped sail claims to keep you ultra-cool by reducing the temperature by 20 degrees under the shade.

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