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Patio & Garden

Seek Shelter in the Shade This Summer

June 6, 2017

Maximize your outdoor time this summer by incorporating shade into your garden. Not only does shade make an outdoor space more comfortable, it also protects from the sun’s harsh rays. Designing for shade also incorporates an often overlooked element of landscape design: the ceiling plane. No matter how solid, transparent, large or small, a ceiling plane helps to create a sense of enclosure, intimacy and privacy. Here are eight ways to add shade to your garden this summer.

1. Put up an umbrella. If you’re looking for ease and affordability, adding an umbrella to your garden or patio is a no-brainer. Their portability and the variety of styles and colors means you can’t go wrong. From mini umbrellas for patios and balconies to retro-style umbrellas that will bring back memories of summer days spent at the amusement park, your options for personalization are endless.

Try choosing a color that sets the tone. In this Portland, Oregon, backyard, a fresh green umbrella adds to the yard’s lush view. Cobalt blue cushions and metal patio furniture contrast with the mostly green scene.

Patio furniture: Ethan Allen

See how to pick a patio umbrella that performs

2. Hang a shade sail. A shade sail, made of moisture-resistant fabric, is another great way to create temporary shade for your patio. A shade cloth can be easily attached and removed from a free-standing post set in concrete or metal hooks mounted to the side of a structure.

Try overlapping multiple sails in different colors for a lively look. This sheltered patio sets the stage for hours of outdoor lounging.

See how shade sails help outdoor rooms take flight

3. String up a canvas shade. Is there anything dreamier in an outdoor space than soft, diffused light shining through gently billowing fabric? Attach outdoor fabric to overhead wires so it can easily be retracted on a pulley, or run it through the frame of an existing pergola. When the weather changes, just fold up the fabric and store it in a drawer until next summer. You can even choose a material other than fabric, such as bamboo or shade cloth, for a different feel.

See patio makeover with a new retractable shade structure

4. Erect a temporary canopy. Having a party? A canopy is a great way to add shade in a pinch. It also helps to create an intimate feel; your guests will want to sit, sip and chat for hours.

5. Grow vines over a pergola. There’s nothing quite like the magic of vines growing overhead, whether your aesthetic is classic or contemporary.

There are hundreds of vines to choose from, depending on your yard’s growing conditions. Evergreen clematis (Clematis armandii) has attractive, shiny, deep-green leaves throughout the year and fragrant, white, star-shaped flowers in spring. A deciduous vine, which loses its leaves in fall and winter, allows precious sunlight to stream in when you want it most.

Some vines, though gorgeous when in bloom, can turn into garden thugs if not properly maintained and given a sturdy structure to grow on. Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) most famously falls into this category. Its trunks become thick and aggressive over time, easily tearing down roof gutters and deck railings. Go for it if you have a free-standing, sturdy structure — few plants rival its beauty.

See more guides to growing fruiting and flowering vines

6. Don’t be blind to the vertical. It’s getting late in the day, the sun is dipping and suddenly the sun’s rays stream horizontally under your overhead shade structure straight into your eyes. What do you do? Try adding a vertical element to your shade setup. Attach a curtain rod to your pergola and hang outdoor curtains that can easily be drawn for shade and privacy. Built-in retractable shade screens can be quickly lowered for temporary shade.

This Hawaiian lanai features ikat curtains from Urban Outfitters, tied back with nautical rope and a compass. Soft textiles and yard sale knickknacks create a whimsical, bohemian lounge.

See more of this boho beach house in Maui

7. Blend structures. For a more modern approach, you can make your fence work triple time by rounding and extending the top overhead. To soften the look, plant vines at the base that can wind their way up and over.

Ipe wood surrounds this intimate Manhattan rooftop. The wood slats climb up a steel structure that offers shade and privacy from surrounding buildings.

8. Create shadow play with a metal screen. Try mounting a laser-cut metal screen to an overhead structure. An enchanting play between light and shadow results.

Your turn: How do you create shade in your yard? Upload your photos in the Comments.

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