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Outdoor Shade Options to Keep Cool in the July Sun

Your outdoor area is a great spot to soak in the sun. However, when the summer heats up, it's nice to have a shady spot to relax, shielded from the harsh rays. There are many ways to bring shade to an outdoor space. From enhancing a patio or building a new freestanding structure, there are economical and aesthetically pleasing options to add a cool shaded area. Shade options are made from fabric or canvas, and even materials like lattice and bamboo to cast delicately dappled light onto your outdoor living space. Most projects are simple enough for the average homeowner to complete easily and quickly, often within the space of a single weekend. Here is a selection of yard improvements that will have you made in the shade.

Patio Umbrella

When seeking shade, go back to the basics. This modern backyard celebrates the heyday of swimming pool culture and style, with chairs set up on the side under a large white patio umbrella. The weights attached at the top ensure the umbrella isn't going anywhere, so you can feel free to keep your attention focused on other important matters — like absolute relaxation.


Your grandparents may have had tin awnings on their 1950's tract home, but they've come a long way since the days when door-to-door salespeople would compete for new homeowners' business. Contemporary awnings are softer, made of more pliable and longer-lasting materials, and, quite simply, better looking. Investing in a retractable awning is great for those who spend a lot of time outdoors. Retractable awnings hang over your backyard patio and can be raised or lowered to change the level of shade, keeping your outdoor living space comfortable at any time of day. Once installed, you can enjoy the outdoors comfortably at any time of day, whether it’s having breakfast in the shade with your family or lounging around your unique fire pit in the evening with friends.

Shade Sail

When working with smaller spaces, a triangle sun shade sail can be an ideal fit. The shape tends to be very accommodating when there isn't a ton of room to work with, yet doesn't hesitate to do its job of providing much-needed shade. Plus, it's got a streamlined look that will appeal to minimalists.


Investing in a gazebo can take your backyard to the next level, as these shade structures make for an attractive addition to any outdoor living space. With a full roof and half-wall sides, gazebos offer significant protection from sunlight and the elements. Compared to less permanent backyard shade ideas, gazebos are a considerable financial commitment, but the beauty and function they can add to your yard or patio is well worth the price for those who spend a lot of time outdoors. Customize a gazebo according to your aesthetic and budget with different styles and materials — like wood or brick — and decorate it with features like backyard lighting, curtains, and more.


There are lots of trees that can provide shade in a backyard, as well as natural beauty and privacy from neighbors. These include majestic oaks and tulip trees with their cup-shaped orange-and-yellow flowers. Even smaller trees can provide a useful spot of respite with their leafy canopies. If you already have one that's established, consider setting up a bench beneath its branches, suggests Shane. It could soon be your new favorite summertime seating area in your yard. If you're planting something new, opt for a fast-growing variety so that you don't have to wait too long to enjoy its cooling benefits.

Garden Trellis

You don't need a full-sized pergola to enjoy the dappled shade from a climbing plant or two.

A garden trellis can be just as effective at creating shade during parts of the day. Try a trellis attached to a planter box for an easy solution that will also neatly divide your seating area from other areas of your yard. The best climbing plants to use depend on the climate. You could try passionflower for its exotic-looking blooms. Don't forget about edibles, too. Grapevines and kiwi grow fast, have large leaves, and give delicious fruit at the end of the season.


Curtains are an underrated way to make your patio shadier. Sure, they won’t block out any overhead light. But plenty of light streams through the sides of your patio. And by extending or retracting your curtains, you can block out as much of that light as you want to.


Outdoor shades that roll up and down can be hung from a pergola or porch roof. These sun blockers are made from canvas, vinyl and even bamboo slats. Roll them down as the sun lowers in the sky to block out the harsh evening heat while you enjoy the summer evenings.

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