While your patio and outdoor living areas may be pleasant and cool during the spring months, once summer hits, walking across sundrenched decks and hot pavers in bare feet will feel like you are fire-walking. Even if you have some overhead shade, late afternoon rays can make your patio uncomfortably hot during the heat of the day. In order to keep things cool underfoot and allow you to get the maximum pleasure from your outdoor entertaining areas, you will need to create shade to escape from the blazing sun.
While shade options can range from simple, inexpensive solutions to expensive, custom-built structures, give these shade-giving options some consideration:
- Privacy Panels – Light shading panels are available in a variety of styles, from drop-down, freestanding or roll-down models.
- Shade Cloth Covers – Made of high-strength, light-diffusing materials, sailcloth panels come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. The panels do require connections to trees, embedded posts or exposed rafter ends. Shade strips over a pergola create a relaxing, dappled area to cool off.
- Wooden Pergola – Wooden slats filter light, and provide a sleek shade option that softens the sun without obstructing it altogether.
- Retractable Awnings – Awnings allow shady entertaining during day; stargazing at night.
- Cabanas – Perfect for sunbathing. Fitted with light-blocking curtains, you can go straight from pool to lounge chair in style.
- Gazebo – For casual entertaining, add built-in wooden seating or hammocks. Look for a freestanding gazebo kit if you are handy with tools.
- Arbor or Trellis – Create shade with decorative vines up the sides or across the top. Look for attractive flowering climbers such as bougainvillea, roses, clematis or morning glory. The taller your arbor, the more time you can enjoy in the shade. An added benefit is that an attractive trellis offers privacy and lush greenery to your outdoor living area.
- Trees & Plants – While large trees are a shady no-brainer, other plants such as hardy bananas can help shield a south or west-facing yard. In addition, they grow quickly for fast shade.
- Umbrellas – Nothing beats a traditional market umbrella for shade or portability.
- Pop-Up Canopy – Its square or rectangolar footprint and easy setup, allow pop-up canopies to quickly provide shelter from blistering pavers for family events, parties and various social gatherings. Remember that they are top-heavy: secure the canopy to the ground with sturdy stakes.
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