4 of the best shade options every outdoor area needs this summer

Every outdoor area needs a space that’s sheltered from the sun’s harsh rays. Here’s how to create the perfect shady spot

Being in the garden and enjoying the sunshine is one of life’s top simple pleasures. But when the temperatures rise and the UV rays are strong, it’s a welcome relief to find a shady spot in which to rest and relax.

1. Plant a tree

Planting a large, leafy tree in the garden is an eco-friendly and inexpensive option for creating shade. Trees provide relief from the heat, a place to sit, relax and read a book and are a great place for the kids to play out of the sun. Decide what kind of tree suits your needs (and the style of your garden) best; for instance, evergreens provide shade all year round, while deciduous trees only provide shade in the summer months.

If you want a tree that already looks quite established, it can cost anywhere from $150-$350 or more, depending on the grade you buy. For those willing to wait, a small-sized tree will cost a lot less, but bear in mind it will take a good 5-15 years to mature (growth rates vary according to variety).

Handy hints

  • Keep the tree’s eventual size in mind and choose a suitable spot.
  • The best time to plant a shade tree is in autumn.
  • Try: Albizia julibrissin (Persian silk tree, pink silk tree), Prunus (cherry), Alectryon excelsus (tītoki), Vitex lucens (pūriri), Acer palmatum dissectum (Japanese maple).

2. Invest in an umbrella

Umbrellas create instant shade and protection, and are ideal for small courtyards, patios, apartment terraces and decks. A standard floor-standing umbrella is perfect for creating much-needed shelter in a pool area on a hot summer’s day. They come in a range of colours and styles to suit any outdoor setting. Wall-mounted umbrellas are a good option for small spaces.

Cantilever umbrellas are another popular option. They have been cleverly designed to rotate 360° and be can be tilted left and right to seven different angles, providing complete shade flexibility whatever the time of day. Some can be screwed directly into timber decking for a streamlined look.

Handy hints

  • If you live by the coast or in a high wind zone, choose an umbrella that is designed to handle wind and harsh weather conditions.
  • Buy an umbrella cover. It protects your umbrella from sun damage, bird droppings and pollution and will extend its life.
  • If you don’t want your umbrella to fade quickly, go for quality fabrics as they have better UV resistance.

3. Install a shade sail

Erecting a shade sail is pretty straightforward and, better still, there is no need to make permanent changes to the structure of your home. Shade sails create both wind and sun protection for your outdoor area, as well as providing privacy and extra cooling as they are designed to maximise ventilation.

Shade sails are a cost-effective solution for sun protection and very affordable compared to steel or wood structures. They are also customisable and come in various shapes, sizes and colours. Whether you are looking to cover your patio, courtyard or veranda, sails are easy to install and just as easy to take down when not required.

Prices range from $339 for a 5x5m sail from Mitre 10 to $1500-$2500 for a larger, premium product.

Handy hints

  • Look for a professional shade supplier to help you select the best shade sail option for your site conditions.
  • Take your sail down in strong winds.
  • Properly installed steel posts are a must.
  • Keep patio heaters, barbecues, fires or other heat sources away from the fabric.
  • A building consent is not required if your sail is 50 sqm or less and is no closer than 1m to any legal boundary. Check with your local council for guidance.

4. Permanent shade

Pergolas and gazebos are a popular option if you’re after a fixed structure to provide sun protection all year round, either as a separate feature in the garden or attached to the house.

Pergolas are usually built of timber, steel or aluminium. They are either open to the sky or have a roof made of materials such as polycarbonate or acrylic sheets to provide extra protection from the rain and sun. Pergolas can be softened with pretty climbers that provide scent and colour such as the pale pink-flowered Clematis montana ‘Elizabeth’.

A wooden pergola will cost $3000-$8000 to install, depending on the size, grade and type of timber you use, and whether or not you add a roof. An acrylic-roofed, steel- or aluminium-framed pergola attached to your house is likely to cost between $8000 and $15,000.

For homeowners with sizeable budgets, pergolas with automated louvre roofs are a growing trend as they offer total control over how much sun, shade and light are admitted while also providing rain protection.

Essentially creating a functional outdoor room where you can relax and entertain all year round, these pergolas come in motorised or hand-operated versions and in a range of louvre sizes, with a host of coloured anodised or powder-coated finishes to choose from.

A gazebo is a freestanding pavilion, sometimes octagonal or hexagonal, with a shingle or tiled roof. They’re ideal for creating a place to sit and enjoy a book or to admire the garden from a different vantage point, and cost between $8000 and $12,000.

If you need a temporary shelter to serve food and drinks, or simply escape from the elements, a pop-up gazebo is a great option whether you’re at home or at the beach or park.

And if your gazebo or pergola still needs a tweak or two, you can install mesh shade blinds or clear PVC blinds for added cooling, shade or privacy (such as the Calido zip screen from Johnson & Couzins).

Handy hints

  • Use a reputable company to provide a fixed-price quote that includes any necessary consents or permits.
  • Make sure you allow enough space for an outdoor dining table and chairs. Nothing less than 3 sqm is a good rule of thumb.
  • Check with your council about the permitted size of your proposed gazebo/pergola as there are some restrictions on how much area you can cover. Consent may be required.
  • Consider the prevailing winds when deciding where to locate a pergola. Don’t get stuck outdoors in a windy location.

Words by: Sandra Batley. Photography by: Bauer Syndication, Kate Claridge, Helen Bankers.

This article was first published in Your Home and Garden. Follow YHG on Instagram, Facebook and sign up to the fortnightly email for inspiration between the issues.

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