7 Ways to Add Shade to Your Backyard

shaded backyard patio area

As spring approaches, many of us look forward to spending more time outdoors with backyard barbecues, outdoor games, and leisurely reading. The warmer the weather, the more meals spent outside with family and friends and hours spent tending to flourishing gardens. But then summertime comes around and brings intense exposure to heat and UV rays that are far too easy to overdose on.

If you are looking for ways to provide a bit more shade from the sun, you are not alone. Here are our top seven suggestions for adding shade to your backyard and keeping you and your family protected from those dangerous rays.

1. Pergola

backyard pergola

While it might seem intimidating, building a pergola is actually a fairly simple solution for adding shade. The key is to make sure that the main posts are either placed in cement or otherwise safely and firmly secured in the ground so that they can withstand whatever extreme weather conditions your area might experience. From there, you can get creative and just have one widely space row of boards across the top, or you can have two layers of boards across the top, placed closely together to offer more protection from the hot sun.

2. Fast-Growing Bushes and Trees

trees shading backyard area

It is easy to think of trees as a source of shade for your yard, but you may not realize that you can have that shade ready to use much sooner than you think. Many nurseries and garden centers sell trees at an already impressive size, small enough so that you can easily plant yourself, but large enough that it will allow you to enjoy shade within the first year it is planted. In fact, many trees—such as Dawn Redwood, Cottonwood, and Red Maple—grow 1-2 feet per year, so you can make the most of that shade without the long wait.

Just be sure to do your homework on the climate in your area as well as the space you want to plant in before you make a commitment, as some trees can grow to pretty impressive heights and widths. Your local garden center can be especially helpful in this area if you feel more comfortable getting your information from an expert in your particular climate.

3. Retractable Canopy

retractable patio canopy

While there are many varieties on the market for sale, it has become quite popular to DIY a retractable canopy in your own back yard. There are endless options for fabric, style, and track design to suit your individual space, but most include the same basic details: thick, sturdy wire cable or a simple track system; outdoor fabric; and sturdy hooks to hang the fabric. This is a fun way to add a bit of personality to your space by choosing a colorful or patterned fabric to match your design and style.

4. Shade Sail

backyard sail shade

If a more permanent shade is your preference, you can find both manufactured and DIY options to add a shade sail to your back yard. These come in a variety of sizes and colors, or you can make one customized to your unique space.

5. Umbrella

umbrella on patio for shade

When it comes to umbrellas, you can go the standard route and include one in the center of your outdoor dining table, or you can buy an extra large one to cover your entire outdoor living space.

6. Outdoor Curtains

curtains for terrace shade

If your outdoor living space gets the late afternoon sun, you may want to consider adding some outdoor curtains to block out the sunshine as it sinks lower in the sky. This adds a really nice design element and allows you to open and close them as you wish for both sunshine and privacy. It is especially good for balconies or terraces that need a bit of shade.

7. Climbing Vines

vines in backyard for shade

Whether you have a pergola, a privacy screen, or some other form of protection from the sun, adding some climbing vines can be a nice way to help the structure blend in a bit more and is a nice way to cool down the shady space beneath it. These sorts of vines typically require very little maintenance to flourish, so even if you don't consider yourself much of a gardener, give this fun option a try.

Bonus Tip:

If you really want to stay cool this summer, you can line any of these shade ideas with misters. When you want to spend time outdoors, simply hook your hose up to the strip of misters and turn on the water. You will be gently misted with cold water all afternoon, staying cool and hydrated no matter how you choose to spend your time outdoors!