15 Shade Ideas for Your Outdoor Space

Stylish Ways to Find Relief From the Heat

outdoor patio with shade from reed mats

Afro Bohemian Living

While it's relaxing and restorative to spend time outdoors, not everyone wants to or should be exposing themselves to the sun's rays. Sometimes, it's just too hot. So, when planning an outdoor room or 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.

  • 01 of 15

    Umbrellas Are the Way To Go

    white patio umbrella over two chairs, next to hottub

    Herzen Stimme

    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 15

    Shade and Shelter

    pergola with sheer fabric over it

    Kristen Diane

    One of the most popular ways to add shade to your outdoor paradise is by adding a pergola. A pergola can be left 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 15

    Constructed Overhang

    patio with constructed overhang

    Life of Isa Tu

    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 15

    Oversized Moveable Umbrella

    oversized umbrella with lightbulb

    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 anyone'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. The good news is there are plenty of options to choose from.

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  • 05 of 15

    Updated Awning

    patio seating with large striped canvas

    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. The gray and white striped pattern shown displayed in this patio is proof of that!

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  • 06 of 15

    Tree for Shade

    tree with deck built to wrap around it

    D Burns Interiors

    The original and oldest source of shade is a tree, especially a nice big one with twisting, sculptural limbs. The builders of this deck made the unique decisions 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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  • 07 of 15

    Create Multiple Dining and Shaded Spaces

    oversized canopy shade structure

    Lady Landscape

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

    In the long run, it makes sense to have multiple shaded spaces to turn to if you have the space to do so; that way you can ensure that you're never stuck being blinded by the sun's rays as it makes its way across the sky.

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  • 08 of 15

    Pergola with Extra Privacy

    outdoor black pergola

    Allie Wilson Home

    Creating an entertainment area away from your home can give you the freedom to add extra seating and the space to do so. To ensure your guests stay as comfortable as possible, you can add a pergola with some additional wall panels can keep the sun from beaming directly onto them while also providing extra privacy.

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  • 09 of 15

    Tree Canopy

    canopy made of branches and leaves

    The Laundry Garden

    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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  • 10 of 15

    Creating Multiple Entertainment Spaces

    outdoor patio desert setup with pergola that has canvas canopies

    Dazey Den

    Having the spaces to create multiple areas to entertain is an absolute dream. While this desert home from Dazey Den already had a small garden and a firepit surrounded by vibrant chairs, there still needed to be a place that wasn't directly out in the sun. A constructed white canopy hosts a comfortable seating area with thick curtains on each side to ensure anyone who's trying to escape the heat has a place to do so.

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  • 11 of 15

    Portable Umbrella

    patio area with table and chairs and standalone umbrella

    JC Designs

    While we've already established umbrellas are one of the most well-known items to prevent shade, there can still be minor drawbacks—like a lack of portability. However, there are plenty of large umbrellas with sturdy bases that can be easily moved to different parts of the patio. No matter where you are, you'll always have the extra amount of shade on hand.

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  • 12 of 15

    Triangle Sun Shade

    triangle shade canopy

    L2Design LLC/Instagram

    When working with smaller spaces, a triangle sun shade 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.

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  • 13 of 15

    Look to a Loggia

    Loggia with brick fireplace

    Lady Landscape

    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.

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  • 14 of 15

    Relaxing Terrace

    outdoor terrace with reed pipe mats used for shade

    Afro Bohemian Living

    This outdoor terrace space 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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  • 15 of 15

    Patio Shade by the Pool

    built shaded in structure beside pool

    Lady Landscape

    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. 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 in your yard by the pool.

Article Sources
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  1. US EPA, OAR. “Using Trees and Vegetation to Reduce Heat Islands.” Overviews and Factsheets, June 17, 2014.