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Bring Shade to Your Outdoor Space with Sun-Blocking Features

Mary Ellen Vanaken

Mary Ellen was born and raised in Long Island, New York. After graduating from college, she worked on Wall Street for JP Morgan in New York City...

Mary Ellen was born and raised in Long Island, New York. After graduating from college, she worked on Wall Street for JP Morgan in New York City...

Jun 2 11 minutes read


Warmer, sunnier weather means more opportunities to spend time outdoors. Many of us look forward to enjoyable backyard barbecues with family and friends or get-togethers around the pool — or even in the garage. But just hanging out with the kids and the dog as they play outside can be uncomfortable when the sunshine is too bright and the temperatures begin to escalate into the nineties. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to create shade in even the sunniest yards. 

 

Sun cover isn’t only important in terms of comfort either. No matter your skin type or whether you tan or burn, harmful UV rays can do a number on the health of your skin. Sunscreen is crucial, and shade features like pergolas, awnings, and gazebos can provide you and your guests with some sun-blocking protection as you enjoy the warm weather. Best of all, you can incorporate sun-cover features near your patio, deck, even in open spaces in your landscape or garden.


Adding Shade to Your Outdoor Space

There are many ways to add shade to your patio or backyard, and you can add shade features that are in keeping with your home’s style as well as your budget. You can incorporate sun cover with do-it-yourself projects or work with a contractor to design a custom shade feature for any area of your outdoor living space. Keep in mind that the money you invest in these features may even enhance your home’s value. Permanent features such as gazebos and pergolas can increase your enjoyment of your yard — and make it more appealing to house hunters should you ever list your property on the real estate marketplace. 

 

It’s also worth noting that many of these features don’t only provide cover from shade. You can rely on them to keep your guests dry during a drizzle or rain, and if you opt to screen in features like your pergola, you can even keep pesky insects at bay. Once you install your preferred shade feature, you may find that you love the outdoors a whole lot more. 

 

Benefits of Installing Sun Cover in Your Yard

When people think about shade, they often think of trees, but many homes don’t have the luxury of tree shade and, of course, trees can require more maintenance than many people want to contend with. Moreover; they take a long time to grow! So, when approaching the task of creating sun cover for your patio, deck, or elsewhere in your yard, you’ll want to explore the various options and benefits for each type of solution. 

 

The main benefit of installing features like sun awnings or pergolas is the comfortable shade that they create. But these features can also add tremendous aesthetic appeal to your home or outdoor living space. You can create or purchase them in many different styles and customize them with decorative features or finishes as you choose. Many sun covers are built with durability in mind, and you’ll want to consider that when making your investment. If you already have a sun cover for your yard, you can even expand or refurbish it.


Choosing a Shade Feature for Your Home

You won’t be starved for choices when it comes to backyard shade features. Here are some of the most popular options to look for:

 

Canopy

A canopy is a semi-permanent shade feature. Generally speaking, you can leave these structures up throughout the warm season and disassemble them when it gets cold. While more elaborate styles may mimic the look of a gazebo or pergola, they’re not as durable as the real deals. But they do come in many styles, and there are plenty of budget-friendly options. Since they’re moveable, you can easily transport your canopy to various areas of your setting, depending on your needs.

 

Pergola

A pergola is an attractive permanent shade feature. You can install a stand-alone model or one that’s attached to your home or garage. The main design feature of a pergola is its open-frame construction. This structure won’t provide full shade unless you add a cover to the top of trained climbing vines to provide you with shade, which is, of course, one of the highlights of a pergola. As a support for vines and climbing plants, a pergola is tough to beat for its durability and beauty. Once covered with vines, this structure makes a truly enchanting shade feature that you and your guests will love.

 

Awning

While many people install fabric-covered awnings above their patio, porch, or deck, there are also metal and PVC awnings on the market that provide more durable cover—and are likely to last longer than the textile options. While an awning is effective for covering a small area, it may not provide the shade coverage you need when entertaining guests. On the other hand, these permanent features can enhance your home’s curb appeal and may be ideal for you if you don’t entertain or require expansive sun cover.

 

Gazebo

Today, gazebos come in many different styles. Some mimic the look of canopies but are more durable, featuring PVC roofs. On the other hand, homeowners who want to create a permanent shade feature might choose a more elaborate and traditional design — like one with gables, stairs, and decorative banisters. You can create a custom gazebo design in any size that you choose—one that’s just large enough to hold a bistro table and chairs or one that can accommodate multiple picnic tables and benches. The larger and more elaborate the style, the more it’ll cost. But a well-built, decorative gazebo can increase your home’s value. 

 

Other Sun-Cover Features

Other shade features to consider include sun umbrellas, sun sails, curtains, and even simple screens. These are ideal when you only need temporary sun cover. If you’re planning to host a graduation party or get-together in your garage, a garage door screen not only blocks the sun and insects, but it allows air to circulate to keep the space cool and comfortable. Sun umbrellas don’t provide a lot of shade, but they can be easily opened or closed as needed, and they provide deep shade for a small area. You can choose one of these options if you don’t want to install a more permanent feature in your space.



Retractable and Temporary Features vs. Permanent One

For many homeowners, a permanent backyard feature like a pergola or deck is the ideal solution. Once installed, permanent constructions like these aren’t meant to be moved, and they take up space and require maintenance. Many companies manufacture and install retractable shades and awnings that come in various styles and colors. A retractable awning can be attached to the overhang above a patio or porch, and it might be the perfect method for creating shade only when it’s needed. Many of these products are designed to enhance the home’s energy efficiency too with their ability to prevent sunlight from entering through exposed windows. 

 

On the other hand, more temporary sun-shade features, such as sun sails, are easy DIY projects to put up, take down, and store. You can quickly and easily install sun sails over a sunny space if you put the necessary hardware in place for the sail to hook to.


Should You Go DIY or Hire a Professional?

Building a shade feature for your yard, patio, or deck is a great DIY project if you have the know-how and the tools for the job. If you don’t, the job could wind up costing more than if you just hired professionals from the start. Plus, there are safety considerations to keep in mind. Instead of getting up on ladders to install your awning, it may be a safer option to let an experienced handyman or contractor manage this task for you. In any case, it’s a good idea to weigh both routes by pricing materials and any tools you may need to purchase or rent. Then, gather some estimates from area contractors to choose the best option for you and your budget.

 

Shading Specific Areas of Your Setting

Some shade features are more conducive to certain areas of your outdoor space than others. If you have an area in mind that you want to create shade for, you’ll want to choose a feature that’s ideally suited to the space. For instance, a gazebo might look out of place when used to create shade atop your flat-top garage, but it’s ideal for nearly any area of your backyard. A pergola is perfect above a children’s play area to shade a sandbox, or install one over or near your patio, where you intend to spend most of your outdoor time. Choose sun covers that complement your needs as well as the look of your setting.

 

Adding Decorative Elements to Your Shade Feature

Once you add your shade feature, you can enhance it with decorative finishes or touches. A pergola is the perfect feature for adorning with hanging plants or vines like morning glories, ivy, or trumpet vine. You can install a lighting feature in your pergola or gazebo so that you can enjoy the space in the evenings. Some people choose to paint their shade structures, but you can select any finish you like. Other decorative touches include hanging string lights, lanterns, outdoor rugs, and matching seating.

Shade Features Maintenance

Like most aspects of a home, a shade feature may require maintenance. For example, your pergola or gazebo may need to be painted or resealed periodically. You may need to wash your sun sails periodically, or wipe down your umbrella. Any items that are routinely exposed to the outdoor climate and elements are prone to wear and tear, so inspect your sun features annually, and perform any necessary maintenance or repairs, like sewing a hole in the sail, or repainting an awning.  Fabric awnings, sails, or umbrellas will likely need replacing every few years, especially if they become damaged by heavy winds or storms.

Wrap Up

You have plenty of options to choose from to create outdoor shade so you can enjoy your back yard even in the heat of summer. Carefully consider how you intend to use your yard this springor summer, and choose a shade feature that enhances your outdoor lifestyle. And, since you can customize many of the options available to you, you’re sure to achieve a design that suits your needs as well as your aesthetic preferences. 

 

Originally posted on Porch.com

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