Patio Shade Ideas – Cool Pop Up Tents, Awnings, Gazebos, and Pergolas

Have you ever found yourself wishing you could go outside and enjoy a beautiful summer’s day, but ended up hiding inside from the hot sun? With damaging UV rays posing a threat to our health, it’s imperative that protection from the sun is provided for you and your family to truly be able to enjoy your back yard patio.

Luckily there are a wide variety of options available on the market today for homeowners to address these concerns. From gazebos with their graceful and stylish lines, to pergolas with their characteristic slats and shade patterns, there’s sure to be a good fit for your yard, as well as for the look of your home.

The main reason for looking for ideas to shade a patio is of course to provide a cool and sheltered area for you to enjoy the outdoors. Doing so can help open up your house so that you aren’t always stuck inside. Not only can it help ease the transition from inside to out in a functional sense, but also from one of looks as well. A project like this is your chance to spice up the look of your yard, and at the same time help create a more gradual transition for the eye between the home and garden.

Which Form of Shade is Best?

Different situations call for different types of shade ideas for your patio. Sometimes the warmth of the sun can be a welcome thing, at least to some extent. Shade which is complete can leave things dark and cold at times, and so partial shade solutions, especially those which provide shade at necessary times, can be a real boon to backyard enjoyment.

Similarly, the look of the structure can really make a big impact on the aesthetic appeal of your yard. By choosing a design style which fits in with the rest of your landscaping and home decor, you can help bring everything together into a cohesive whole. This can be a difficult problem to approach after the fact, as you can paint yourself into a corner with other choices for other projects.

This is why it’s a good idea to carefully consider future additions for every project. Doing so will help you plan later additions, as you can just stick to a theme which is already set, rather than having to come up with some way to tie all the structures in your yard together one by one.

Shaded Patio below a Deck with Pergola

A Deck with Pergola extension provides Shade below.

Some Common Patio Shade Structures

In general, there are a few main forms of shade that you can add to your yard. Pergolas offer incomplete shade, often in visually attractive patterns. These patterns can be adjusted to give a precise amount of light, and even regulate light at certain times of day while letting more through at other times.

A pergola can also serve as a great trellis, which can not only bring more life to your patio, but adds another dimension to shading possibilities. Trellises and arbors can also perform he same tasks, and at a design level are sometimes hard to distinguish from pergolas. The pergola really being just an elevated horizontal trellis itself.

A Wooden Pergola Extends from the House

Natural Wood Pergolas create beautiful extensions to Homes

Gazebos on the other hand tend to have solid roofs. These can be made from many materials. Some gazebos do offer a pergola type of roof, or more precisely, no roof at all. This is most common with wrought iron gazebos, which often leave the wrought iron frame uncovered. Because of this, wrought iron gazebos are mostly for visual impact, rather than protection from the weather. Fabric gazebos, often referred to as canopy gazebos, give more protection than the open designs, without the added weight and bulk of a wooden or metal roof gazebo.

A Tree Shades a Lattice Gazebo

Sometimes Shade Comes Naturally

Awnings are another great option for shading your patio. Patio awnings work best when your patio is adjacent to your home. That way the awning will provide protection not just for the patio, but can help protect the house as well.

One of the main benefits of awnings is how they can help regulate the temperature inside the house, blocking the heat from the sun from entering in through windows and doors, and helping the siding of the house to stay cool as well. This can be a rather large effect in some cases, where an awning can intercept and disperse several kilowatts of energy, reducing the load on your air conditioning in the summer. Such an effect can even pay for the cost of the awning over time. The same holds true with awnings for decks.

Choosing the Right Materials for Your Patio Ideas

A White and Airy Pergola over a Patio

White Venetian Pergola on the Patio

Not all shade is created equal. Plus there are other factors that need to be taken into account when choosing a material to provide the shade.

In regards to the shade itself, the intensity of the light can vary from material to material. Some, like canvas, allow some of the radiation from the sun to penetrate through the material and pass through. This means that the shade won’t be as dark, but also won’t have as much of a cooling effect. With some shade sails and umbrellas, nylon or rayon are used to not so much block sunlight, but to disperse it to be not so intense. This can mean more even lighting, without really doing much in regards to the heat of the sun.

Other more formidable materials such as wood or metal can block the sunlight completely. That doesn’t mean they provide teh same amount of protection though. The way a material heats up can also affect how cool it stays underneath. Metals which trap heat and radiate it downward may end up creating a warmer environment than permeable fabrics which allow heat to disperse up through the material.

Should You Build it Yourself or Buy a Manufactured Product?

This question of whether to go the DIY or prefab route is usually a very personal one. Not everyone can be the ultimate handyman. At the same time, these types of structures not only allow for a great deal of flexibility in design and building style, but can be a lot of fun to work on. Even if the finished product isn’t quite perfect, given the setting out in nature, sometimes these little imperfections in design can actually add to the natural feel of things.

Of course you want to make sure that your structure is solid and safe. Given that wood, which is the most commonly used material in these DIY type of projects, is a relatively heavy and bulky material, the structures themselves can come out weighing quite a lot. Certainly enough to do some damage if they were ever to fall over. So if you aren’t sure of your ability to build a strong shade structure, it may be a better idea to just go for a prefab kit or even hire a professional to build it for you.

Taking Your Shade on the Go

With lightweight solutions you open up the possibility of using the structures for other purposes as well. While a popup tent may not be the most beautiful addition to your patio, it’s one that you could reasonably take with you to the park, campsites, or even the beach for a day out in nature. This multipurpose usefulness can make what otherwise would be an unattractive option, and make it much more efficient at least.

Some gazebo canopies may also be lightweight enough to take with you. Often though, they aren’t designed for setting up and breaking down in quickly. This may limit the amount of use you can get from them while out and about, and may even make them difficult to re-purpose within your yard.

A folding gazebo or party tent can be a good intermediate option. They are lightweight enough that they can also be moved around, but offer more protection and generally better aesthetics than flimsy popup tents. These often come with wall panels that can help protect against insect pests when you’re out enjoying the evening.

Long-Term Patio Shade Ideas

All of these solutions can be implemented in rather short order. The time involved is mostly in determining which product is right for your patio. After that has been decided, the structure itself can be purchased and/or set up rather quickly.

Other ideas to modify shade for your patio or yard in general can take much longer to implement. Trees can be used for shade, but can take decades to reach their full potential in that regard. As such, even if you do choose to eventually address patio shade concerns naturally, you may need a stopgap measure for the years until the trees can take responsibility for the shade themselves.

Given how long-term a solution that trees are, it’s very important to take your time in deciding how to approach the problem. Remember that a few weeks or months of planning really aren’t going to make much difference as it’s going to take years to come to fruition. A good time to start planning is during the winter, as that way you give yourself plenty of time to set your plans down, before it’s time to plant your trees in the spring.

A Backyard Patio Overlooking a Shaded Lawn

Trees can provide Natural Shade over Time