It’s been a long winter… and spring has certainly taken its sweet time to arrive.
But never fear. Just when you think it’s never going to happen… summer will make its debut in all its warmth and splendour, and suddenly, it’s patio time!
As desperate as we are for the sun, though, there’s one element of summer days that we sometimes forget to plan for—the need for a reprieve into cool, inviting shade.
There are shade options available to suit all budgets, styles and personal tastes. Whether your yard is big or small, or your style runs modern or country chic, there are many different ways to find respite from the sun (and the rain) while making the most of these all-too-fleeting summer months.
“Whether your yard is big or small, or your style runs modern or country chic, there are many different ways to find respite from the sun (and the rain) while making the most of these all-too fleeting summer months.”
Begin by figuring out your needs. Are you looking mainly for summer shade, or something that provides relief from the elements year-round? Do you need a solid roof for three-season dinner parties on the patio? Would you prefer natural shade elements that involve landscaping, or do you picture your yard full of modern options? Are you working with an empty yard, or do you have other features that need to be considered, like a hot tub, existing deck or pool?
Thinking about your style, your priorities, and your budget at the outset will help you decide your next steps. Here are some options:
A stand-alone patio umbrella is a versatile option for adding shade to your space. They come in a range of prices, open and close as needed and are often portable. Offset cantilevered styles can easily cover seating or dining areas and can be moved around your backyard space.
A more permanent option, pergolas are a great way to extend and personalize your outdoor living space. Lighting, décor and plants can be hung in and around the structure, and the amount of shade can be customized and adjusted. Pergolas range from basic steel frames to more elaborate wood-based structures with fabric canopies.
A gazebo can be permanent or portable. Screened-in gazebos are a popular way to keep bugs out for dining or evening enjoyment. The main difference between a pergola and a gazebo is the overhead covering and structure. Gazebos tend to have a domed roof, which is often solid, while the roof of a pergola is usually flat and more open.
Permanent in-ground structures like cabanas and pool houses can provide a luxurious, multi-use extension to your home. Customization options are endless for these four-season rooms that not only provide shade, but protection from all of the elements year-round.
“Outdoor shade manufacturers are adopting a marine grade approach, which is especially important in Canada due to our unpredictable weather.”
— Sarah Lowe, Southern Living Design
Retractable awnings and sunshades offer protection not only from shade, but also from wind and rain. These connect to the exterior of your home and can be extended, retracted, rolled up or down as needed. You can customize the thickness of the material, using thinner blinds or more opaque materials in different areas of your yard.
A shade sail is a smart, low-maintenance way to provide shade to a key area of your backyard. Sails anchor easily to the exterior of your home or to posts of any height and can even be tethered to trees without the need for a lot of hardware. Their flexibility and ease of installation makes them a great choice for shielding kids’ play areas, picnic tables or hot tubs.
Another option? Natural shade, which utilizes elements such as trees and hanging plants. Foliage can block the sun and even protect from a light rain. Looking up through the natural canopy of a large leafy tree can be the perfect way to spend a lazy weekend afternoon. A natural shade canopy can take longer to establish, but the result can be a soothing, relaxing way to enjoy a natural escape within your own yard.
We asked Sarah Lowe, head designer at Southern Living Design, a few questions about shade options for your backyard.
LL: What are some trends for summer 2019?
SL: Current market trends are leaning away from the traditional umbrella design and heading towards an art deco approach. When it comes to construction and materials, the tried and true Sunbrella fabric is still the first canopy choice. Frames are evolving from plastic components and are taking on a Marine Grade approach with polished aluminum, a classic current trend.
LL: What should people keep in mind when looking at shade options?
SL: It’s best to focus on what needs to be under the shade. For example, if you are looking to cover a dining or patio set, do you want a centre pole and base right in the middle of the set? Consider alternative designs, such as a cantilever style that reaches over the set and provides more room. Another thing to consider is the durability of the umbrella. As mentioned earlier, manufacturers are adopting a marine grade approach, which is especially important in Canada due to our unpredictable weather. It’s best to buy durable first, rather than regret it later.
LL: What is a good shade starter piece for those who are in a new home or who are setting up an outdoor space for the first time?
SL: A good start would be a mid-sized centre pole umbrella mounted on a base with wheels. This allows you to move the umbrella around your space until you get it just right.
by Ilana Clamp
Southern Living Design
Casualife Outdoor Living