20 Cool Shade Ideas for Your Patio or Backyard

patio shade ideas

The Spruce / Almar Creative

While it's relaxing and restorative to spend time outdoors, not everyone wants to or should be exposing themselves to the sun's rays. So, when planning an outdoor living room, dining room, or other outdoor space, include at least one source of shade in your designs so that you can benefit from the fresh air without being constantly exposed to direct sunlight. Below, we've gathered some of our favorite shade ideas for patios and backyards.

  • 01 of 20

    Opt for Umbrellas

    patio shade ideas

    @herzenstimme / Instagram

    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.

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  • 02 of 20

    Install a Pergola

    patio shade ideas

    @kirsten.diane / Instagram

    One of the most popular ways to add shade to your outdoor paradise is by installing a pergola. You can leave a pergola entirely uninhibited or use covers and screens to keep the sun at bay. In this case, sheer curtains cover the top and the sides for a little extra privacy.

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  • 03 of 20

    Construct a Stylish Overhang

    patio shade ideas

    @life_of_isatu / Instagram

    Spaced a few feet away from the house, this patio features a constructed overhang that keeps things shady in a stylish way. The simple additions of plants, string lights, and a rug add an additional dose of charm.

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  • 04 of 20

    Layer It Up

    patio shade ideas

    A Beautiful Mess

    This pastel rainbow-striped backyard patio from A Beautiful Mess has a DIY pergola and a portable umbrella to double filter harsh rays and protect your al fresco meal from getting soaked in a sudden rainstorm.

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  • 05 of 20

    Upgrade to an Oversized Umbrella

    patio shade ideas

    Amy Leferink at Interior Impressions

    Why stick with a normal umbrella if you have the option to go up a size—bigger is always better, right? This square-shaped oversized umbrella includes a lightbulb for when the day comes to a close, and it provides more than enough coverage to keep the sun out of everyone's eyes. Don't let the size fool you, though—if you want to move the umbrella out of the way, it can easily be swiveled around rather than remaining fixed in its place.

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  • 06 of 20

    Update the Awning

    patio shade ideas

    Design by Calimia Home

    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—like the gray and white striped pattern shown in this patio.

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  • 07 of 20

    Use Trees for Shade

    patio shade ideas

    Design by Desiree Burns Interiors

    The oldest source of shade is a tree, especially a nice big one with twisting, sculptural limbs. The builders of this deck made the unique decision to build the deck around the tree, as opposed to cutting it down. It looks right at home where it is and provides the perfect amount of shade— 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.

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  • 08 of 20

    Add an Outdoor Day Bed

    patio shade ideas

    Design by House of One / Photo by Lifestyle Production Group

    If you've got the space and the budget, there's nothing more luxurious than adding an outdoor daybed to your backyard patio. This poolside four-poster canopy daybed from House of One has tie-back curtains and a solid roof that will protect you from the sun so that you grab a well deserved summer afternoon nap without worrying about waking up with a sunburn.

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  • 09 of 20

    Create Multiple Dining and Shaded Spaces

    patio shade ideas

    @ladylandscape / Instagram

    Landscape designer Melanie Rekola of @ladylandscape is often asked why she creates so many different seating and shaded areas when she designs a landscape. "It gives the option to chase the sun, the shade," she says, "and also offers shelter from rain/wind as needed to adapt to the changing weather conditions of any given day."

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  • 10 of 20

    Fence It Off

    patio shade ideas

    @allie_wilson_home / Instagram

    Creating an entertainment area away from your home can give you the freedom to add extra seating. To ensure your guests stay as comfortable as possible, build a pergola in the corner of your lot, with some additional wall panels that provide a layer of sun protection as well as privacy.

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  • 11 of 20

    Add Greenery

    patio shade ideas

    Mindy Gayer Design Co.

    Even if your backyard doesn't include mature trees, you can build your shady outdoor space in the shade of an ivy-covered wall, a row of hedges, or some planted young trees that will grow fuller with time, like this backyard seating area from Mindy Gayer Design Co.

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  • 12 of 20

    Grow a Tree Canopy

    patio shade ideas

    @thelaundrygarden / Instagram

    While patio and fabrics covers are certainly capable of blocking the sun's rays, sometimes there are more natural options available. This simple structure is made up of several fast-growing smaller trees that provide the perfect canopy of shade. The structure blends in perfectly with the rest of the flourishing garden that surrounds it.

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  • 13 of 20

    Zone It Out

    patio shade ideas

    Dazey Den

    Having the space to create multiple entertainment areas is an absolute dream. While this desert home from Dazey Den already had a small garden and a fire pit surrounded by vibrant red chairs, a constructed white canopy hosts a comfortable seating area with thick curtains on each side to provide shade when needed or desired.

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  • 14 of 20

    Add Boho Style

    patio shade ideas

    @jcdesign1.1 / Instagram

    This backyard patio from @jcdesign1.1 has boho style and a shade umbrella to match, with tassels that complement the rattan table and midcentury modern-style wishbone chairs. Plus it has a lightweight base, making it easy to move around.

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  • 15 of 20

    Hang a Triangle Sun Shade Sail

    patio shade ideas

    L2 Design, LLC

    When working with smaller spaces, a triangle sun shade sail like the one seen in this outdoor space from L2 Design, LLC 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.

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  • 16 of 20

    Build a Cabana

    patio shade ideas

    Design by Cathie Hong Interiors / Photo by Margaret Austin Photo

    Cathie Hong Interiors installed an open air cabana outfitted with a spacious sectional set back from the pool that offers a shady spot on the large open poolside terrace during daytime, and a comfy spot for cocktails after dark.

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  • 17 of 20

    Look to a Loggia

    patio shade ideas

    @ladylandscape / Instagram

    Looking for something a bit more upscale? Loggias are covered spaces that typically stretch along the length of a building—and they usually include columns and arches of some sort. While it takes some extra effort, the result can add an extra feeling of elegance and luxury to your outdoor space while keeping things cool and comfortable, like this space from @ladylandscape.

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  • 18 of 20

    Create a Relaxing Covered Terrace

    patio shade ideas

    @afrobohemianliving / Instagram

    This outdoor terrace from Afro Bohemian Living includes all the necessities to enjoy an evening outdoors. To keep the sun from beaming down too harshly, the area is covered by a simple structure with reed mats placed on top to keep things cool.

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  • 19 of 20

    Go Poolside

    patio shade ideas

    @ladylandscape / Instagram

    Poolside shade doesn't have to come solely from a patio umbrella. You can also opt to add a covered structure of your choosing with perfectly arranged patio furniture underneath, just like this backyard from @ladylandscape. The tilted top adds plenty of coverage, and the entire area looks spacious and open—a perfect place to cool down after a sunny day by the pool.

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  • 20 of 20

    Add Wrap-Around Curtains

    patio shade ideas

    Fantastic Frank

    When creating a shady spot on your backyard patio, it's important to add cover from the sun overhead. But don't forget to give yourself the option to block too-harsh rays beaming in from the sides by hanging billowing white gauze curtains around the periphery, like this outdoor patio from Fantastic Frank.

Article Sources
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  1. Using Trees and Vegetation to Reduce Heat Islands. United States Environmental Protection Agency.