15 Shade Ideas for Your Outdoor Space

  • 01 of 16

    Finding Relief From the Heat

    Fabric gazebo with chandelier and a rectangular dining table.
    Fotosearch/Getty Images

    While it's relaxing and restorative to spend time outdoors, not everyone wants to or should be exposing themselves to the sun's harmful rays. Sometimes, it's just too hot. So, when planning an outdoor environment, include at least one source of shade in your designs—ideally in areas of activity where you can benefit from the fresh air without being in direct sunlight.

    Continue to 2 of 16 below.
  • 02 of 16

    Dining Courtyard

    outdoor dining area shade
    This outdoor dining area is in a convenient, centralized locaition. Joel Dessaules Design

    Palm Springs, California, gets at least 269 sunny days per year, so designer Joel Dessaules came up with clever ways to create shade for this beautiful one-story Mid-century modern Alexander home in the desirable Racquet Club neighborhood.

    To help cool things down, lava veneer from Hawaii was applied to the home's front elevation to help absorb and radiate heat, while block walls were built to block sun and provide shade. A cantilevered steel butterfly-shaped shade structure was installed on...MORE the flat roof, which also absorbs and redirects the sun's intensity.

    Toward the back of the house, another butterfly-shaped structure echoes the front one, creating a covered courtyard dining room. Soft lighting, fans, and misters help cool off diners on hot nights. A weather-tight closet was converted into an indoor/outdoor kitchenette that is accessible to the courtyard dining room—a convenient alternative to the larger indoor kitchen.

    Continue to 3 of 16 below.
  • 03 of 16

    Palm Springs Umbrella A-Go-Go

    palm springs modern yard
    Palm trees, a pool, and lots of vintage furnishings make this a lively pad. Scott Van Dyke/Joel Dessaules Design

    When seeking shade, go back to the basics. Palm Springs, California, designer Joel Dessaules of Joel Dessaules Design had lots of fun with this Mid-century modern backyard that celebrates the heyday of swimming pool culture and style. Vintage or retro furniture and a nice, old-fashioned-style umbrella with a zig-zag motif that echos the pool tile is perfect—can you imagine an earth-tone market umbrella in this yard?

    The tanning chaises are custom designed by Joel Dessaules Design Inc., and made...MORE of powder-coated stainless steel to protect them in the water. The umbrella is by Santa Barbara Umbrella. The white woven metal chairs are vintage. The bench and sun canopy chairs are one-of-a-kinds from Trina Turk.

    Continue to 4 of 16 below.
  • 04 of 16

    Shade and Shelter

    shade ideas
    A custom-made shelter provides shade for outdoor dining. Anthony Crisafulli

    A busy Brooklyn family had lots on their wish list for this narrow yard in the Clinton Hill neighborhood. Still, the designers at NewEco Landscapes beautifully followed through, managing to incorporate a mural wall, fireplace/pizza oven, custom cabinetry, a vegetable garden, lawn, and a modern pergola with a slanted roof. Major workarounds included an existing concrete slab and an AC unit, which got relocated behind the outdoor kitchen so it did not become the yard's focal point.​

    In addition to...MORE being a great-looking outdoor structure, the pergola provides shade for dining or outdoor activities during the day. Heat lamps and lighting were installed on the pergola ceiling and fence for chilly evenings.

    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • 05 of 16

    Shade Sail Pergola

    shade sail
    South Cambs Landscape Ltd.

    The homeowners of this modern, formal English garden requested a space that was low maintenance with an outdoor entertaining area. Father and son design and construction company, Geoff and Ben Kirbyshire of South Cambs Landscape, Ltd. in Steeple Morden near Royston, Herts, headed a team that completed the job in two weeks. Pressure-treated softwood was used for the horizontal-slat screening and raised beds, while two shades of Indian sandstone laid in a random pattern were used for the patio,...MORE along with tumbled sandstone edging sets. Low-voltage garden lighting is accessible with a remote switch.

    Even in overcast Great Britain, there's a need for shade: which covers a raised deck that can be used for dining or other activities. The shade sail is by Shaded Nation. Plants were supplied by Euro Plants.

    Continue to 6 of 16 below.
  • 06 of 16

    Colorful Awning

    colorful awning
    Vibrant orange cushions and pillows make a lively 1970s-inspired terrace. Tim Mooney, Mollymook NSW

    The owners of this 1970s split-level "Habitat" project house situated in the northern Sydney, Australia, town of Bilgola Beach requested that architect Annabelle Chapman retain and improve upon its early '70s vibe. This roof terrace has a view of the dazzling blue Tasman Sea, but does get hot. Annabelle found an era-appropriate orange-striped external canvas fabric by Sunbrella to create a rolling shade, which retracts when not in use.

    Builder: River Run Designs, Avalon NSW
    Furniture: F80 Costa...MORE Sofa by Satara

    Continue to 7 of 16 below.
  • 07 of 16

    Updated Awning

    awning
    Awning provides shade in Sherman Oaks, California. Jill Paider Photography

    Your grandparents may have had tin awnings on their 1950s tract home, but they've come a long way since the days when door-to-door salesmen would compete for new homeowners' business. Contemporary awnings are softer, made of more pliable and longer-lasting materials, and, quite simply, better looking. Santa Monica-based designer/artist Joan Robey found a solution for this Sherman Oaks, California, patio, in which white fabric panels can be adjusted over the outdoor dining table via...MORE pulley system.

    Continue to 8 of 16 below.
  • 08 of 16

    Tree for Shade

    tree for shade
    A wood deck underneath the tree ties together other parts of the yard. J. Michael Tucker/Okashi Design

    The original and oldest source of shade is a tree, especially a nice big one with twisting, sculptural limbs. This home near San Francisco went from overly shady to just-enough when the tree was artfully pruned to allow dappled light to shine through. A tree can lower a home's temperature by as much as 20 degrees or more during the hot months. Think seriously before chopping one down and replacing it with a patio cover.

    Design/architecture: ODS Architecture
    General Contractor: On The Beam

    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16

    Pergola with Custom Shades

    pergola with shade
    Pergola with custom shades. Dian Garbarini

    There are lots of sunny days in Southern California's Orange County, so creating some type of shade structure is essential for anyone who spends time in their backyard. Instead of using 2 x 2 slats that tend to warp, designer Dian Garbarini chose a custom-fabricated fixed Roman solar shading panels that provide filtered shade. Made with Phifer fabric, these shades reportedly block out 90 percent of the sun's harmful rays. If they get dirty, just hose them off.

    Continue to 10 of 16 below.
  • 10 of 16

    Retractable Canopies

    retractable canopy
    Beautiful blue canopy provides shade but is not too dark. Shade FX

    This freestanding pergola in Ontario, Canada, uses a system by Shade FX in which one drive beam located in the middle of the canopy operates the mechanism. Because there is only one track, you do't have to align tracks when operating. This type of system mounts to most types of frames, including wood, without worrying about any jamming or binding. Shades are available in a variety of fabrics, colors, and patterns to coordinate with your outdoor furnishings and decor.

    Continue to 11 of 16 below.
  • 11 of 16

    Pull-Down Shades

    shade screens
    Pull-down shades retract on a roller that is out of sight when not needed. Hively Landscapes

    Sometimes that glare hits you from every angle, and you can't seem to escape it. While most shade structures like this attached pergola designed by Hively Landscapes in Dover, Pennsylvania, provide overhead protection, they don't do much to stop intense rays from a setting sun. That's when something like these roll-up shades comes in handy—simply pull them down when needed, and retract when they are no longer needed.

    Continue to 12 of 16 below.
  • 12 of 16

    Shade for Modern Farmhouse

    modern farmhouse
    Although it's near the coast, Arroyo Grande can get warm in the summer. Gast Architects

    Designed by Gaston Architects, this house on 2.5-acres in the rolling hills of Atascadero, California, near San Luis Obispo resembles a farmhouse—a modern one with all the conveniences. All of that outdoor space required a need for shade, which is provided with simple umbrellas and flat awnings that project from the roofline and have a corrugated, modern-rustic look that goes perfectly with the farmhouse design.

    Landscape architect: Chris Manning, CM Design
    Builder: Semmes & Company of Atascadero

    Continue to 13 of 16 below.
  • 13 of 16

    Yellow Shade Cover

    patio with shade
    Yellow shade offers color and relief from the sun's rays. Your Digital Photo/St. Petersburg

    There is lots you can do with small spaces and urban environments, and this outdoor remodel included a rooftop patio with a sunny yellow shade cover for comfortable dining al fresco.

    Builder: Strobel Design Build, St. Petersburg, Florida

    Continue to 14 of 16 below.
  • 14 of 16

    Shade in the City

    new york rooftop garden
    Gaffney's design also kept the cat from escaping. Lynn Gaffney

    Located on a rooftop above a loft in New York's Chelsea district, this swooping structure designed by Brooklyn-based architect Lynn Gaffney provides shade, privacy, and safety—the slats were spaced precisely to prevent the owners' cats from squeezing through and escaping.

    The slats allow dappled sun in, along with breezes—which help on hot summer evenings. Potted trees help to add more shade to the environment, especially the taller and wider they grow.

    Continue to 15 of 16 below.
  • 15 of 16

    Rooftop Teahouse

    rooftop shade structure
    This teahouse on a rooftop is the perfect private escape. Rooftopia

    What better place than a rooftop in the heart of Chicago to build a teahouse? For its owners, it is the ideal escape, shade structure, and place to entertain with a fabulous view of the city.

    Designed by Rooftopia

    Continue to 16 of 16 below.
  • 16 of 16

    The Reliable Patio Umbrella

    umbrella
    White umbrella in a tiny garden. Wonderlane/Flickr/CC-2.0

    Sometimes your budget or space do not permit building a shade structure. Umbrellas have been around for a long time and aren't going away anytime soon. Find a sturdy one from a reliable source, measure your space to ensure it will fit, and know what to look for when shopping for a good outdoor umbrella.