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Outdoor Living & Recreation

Made in the Shade: Umbrellas, Pergolas and Gazebos

Made in the Shade: Umbrellas, Pergolas and Gazebos 

There are many attractive ways to add cooling shade to your outdoor space. It’s important now more than ever to include shade in your backyard design plans. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are powerful even on cloudy days, and overexposure can damage your skin and eyes.

Keep it simple with a tilting sun umbrella you can adjust as the sun moves, or build a permanent structure such as a pergola that will stand up to extreme weather.

Always check with your local building inspector for requirements in your community before you start construction. Make sure your structure won’t add unwanted shade to your neighbour’s pool or garden.

Planning Your Shade

  1. Observe the sun’s path over your home and where you will need shade at different times of the day. For example, if you need shade while dining on your deck at lunch and dinner time, determine the most effective positions for a shade solution at those times.
  2. Think about how you use your backyard and pinpoint other spots where shade may be needed. For example, do you have a children’s play structure or sandbox that is in the sun when your children are most likely to be playing there?
  3. Consider the air flow in the areas you need shade and find solutions that allow air to flow through. This will help keep you cooler on those sticky, humid summer days.
  4. If your home is in a windy area, choose shade products that are designed to withstand strong winds. Try to position them in a less windy spot in your backyard.
  5. The colour and finish of deck and patio surfaces will affect how hot they get in the sun. When building a new patio or deck, source materials such as travertine tile and lighter coloured pavers that reflect the heat.

Natural shade with plants and trees

Trees provide the best natural shade, so get planting if your backyard is short on trees. You’ll be amazed at the difference even a few trees can make to the temperature in your yard. Fir trees will give you year-round shade, but it’s a smart idea to plant deciduous trees and shrubs as well. They will let the sun shine through to add warmth to your home in the colder winter months.

Portable Shade Products

The patio sun umbrella is an easy and affordable way to create instant shade. Choose umbrellas with fade resistant, easy-to-clean fabrics. Many are also water resistant, and come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. Add a touch of magic to your garden terrace by stringing fairy lights on your umbrella.

Be sure to anchor your umbrella well to prevent it from flying away if there is a sudden gust of wind.

Oversized market umbrellas make a big impact and add style to your space. They are usually vented to allow air flow and are less likely to blow away in the wind.

Beach umbrellas can also be used in the backyard for extra shade. They don’t need a base – you simply push them into the ground. The half umbrella is ideal for balconies as it fits flat against the wall.

Cantilever umbrella – The pole is on the side rather than in the centre, so you can enjoy an unobstructed view of your guests around the patio table. It’s also a good choice to shade lounging areas and your hot tub.

Oversized market umbrellas make a big impact and add style to your space. They are usually vented to allow air flow and are less likely to blow away in the wind.
Beach umbrellas can also be used in the backyard for extra shade. They don’t need a base – you simply push them into the ground. The half umbrella is ideal for balconies as it fits flat against the wall.

Cantilever umbrella – The pole is on the side rather than in the centre, so you can enjoy an unobstructed view of your guests around the patio table. It’s also a good choice to shade lounging areas and your hot tub.

Shade sails (Tension Membrane Structures) – An affordable, attractive and easy-to-install option, fabric shade sails can be purchased off the shelf or in custom sizes. You will need to ensure that the sail shade is fastened very securely to a strong support in case of high winds. Most shade sails are vented to let the wind and rain flow through to prevent tearing.

Fabrics used for umbrellas and shade sails should have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of at least 30.

Built structures

Open structures such as loggias and pergolas give you more consistent protection from sun, wind and extreme temperatures because they are usually built close to your home’s wall. At the same time, they provide good ventilation on a hot summer day. You can also install movable panels made with bamboo, wood or canvas on the ceiling to control the amount of shade or sun you want.

Pergolas

A pergola is an open structure that can be attached to your home or it can stand alone. It allows more sunshine and breezes to filter through it than a gazebo. You can always add vines or another covering for more shade protection and privacy. Check out the many DIY plans online.

Loggias

A loggia is similar to a porch but traditionally had a classical design with pillars and was accessible only through the house. Now a loggia can be designed in any architectural style to suit your home, garden and pool area. The big advantage is its roof, which protects you from the sun and other elements.

Gazebos

A freestanding, round or octagonal garden structure that provides maximum shade with its closed roof, a gazebo can also be designed with an open grid roof. There are many attractive styles to suit your home and garden – from traditional to contemporary. Add some built-in bench seats so you can admire your garden through the open sides.

Don’t forget the sides! UV rays can sneak in through the sides of built structures such as gazebos and pergolas. A beautiful way to prevent this is to grow plants on trellises for privacy and a breeze. Another idea is to hang adjustable canvas or bamboo shades on the sides of your deck or porch.

Roof gardens, decks and balconies can gain shade with potted trees, louvered screens that channel breezes, or fencing with lattice.

You can also extend overhead shade structures past the area being used to provide more shade below.

Retractable Awnings

Motorized or manual wind-up awnings offer a convenient and quick way to add shade to your patio or terrace when you need it. You can have them installed professionally or, if you enjoy DIY projects, you can install them yourself. Take care to install the awning securely to support its weight, and make sure it is high enough for clearance when people are standing up.

Smart Patio Cover

Made with aluminium, and designed to withstand all weather conditions, smart patio covers are an attractive and functional way to protect your deck or terrace from sun, humidity, rain and wind.

The louvres open and close remotely to adjust to the amount of light and shade you want. You’ll be protected from rain and humidity, and keep cooler with refreshing cross breezes.

There are so many innovative ways to create shade and add beauty to your backyard. You’ll be keeping your family safe from harmful UV rays while helping to cool your outdoor living areas to fully enjoy your backyard this summer.


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