During the heat of summer in the Midwest the best way to enjoy your home’s outdoor space is in a shady spot with a breeze. If your back yard or deck design doesn’t offer enough shade, you probably aren’t getting the most out of your outdoor living space. Here are several ways you can add shade to your decks and patios areas.
If you’re in the planning stages and just thinking about adding a deck or a patio, be sure to have a deck design plan with sun and shade in mind. If you live near a wooded lot, try to locate your deck to take advantage of this natural shade during the hottest part of the day. Work around shade trees rather than removing them to put in you deck. You’ll appreciate the extra effort and planning when the heat and humidity start to climb.
Most decks and patios are located in the back yard, as far away from the street as possible for privacy and noise control. If possible, plan your deck design so that western sun is blocked in the late afternoon. If that isn’t possible, consider a wrap–around deck so that at least a portion of the deck will be in the shade at various times in the day.
Canopies, Umbrellas and Shades
There are a few portable shading options for your home including patio umbrellas, portable canopies and sun sails. While these options don’t require installation and can be moved or tilted to keep you in the shade all day long, they can be cumbersome. You also need to be careful during stormy weather with high winds or you may end up chasing your umbrella around the neighborhood!
To create a cool, shady spot without breaking up your space, try a pergola. This unique structure creates a beautiful, partially shaded area that can be attached to your home, incorporated into your deck or built as a free-standing unit. Pergola “roofs” consist of horizontal planks, left flat and open. Some people incorporate vines, foliage and other plants onto these structures to beautify their space. To create shade, sides of the pergola can be closed off with curtains or canopies, the lattice designed to allow you to regulate how much sun enters through the top
Gazebos and Pavilions
You can also add a fully covered structure like a gazebo to your deck or patio area for additional shade and protection from the rain. This project will be more permanent and substantial than a pergola or trellis, but it is more versatile and adds an extra element of privacy.
If you are looking for even more shade and want a complete roof, consider adding a pavilion or patio cover. These permanent structures provide privacy and a space for casual entertaining. With a fully engineered roof and solid foundation, these structures will provide much needed shade on your patio while protecting you from rain and providing more privacy than an open deck or pergola. In many cases, you also have the option to add sunroom walls later, converting it to a 3 or 4 season room.
If it’s time to upgrade your outdoor living space or if you are ready to add a new or renovated sunroom, you have many decisions to make. Check out our sunroom gallery for ideas and start by downloading our free eBook, The Complete Guide to Sunroom Styles.