Over the summer we spend much of our days living outdoors. Whether it’s lounging around, grazing on a festive feast or playing with little people, our outdoor spaces get a serious workout during the warmer months.

As the temperatures soar and the sun’s beams become stronger, without shade we’re limiting the amount of time we can spend outdoors. And we certainly can’t have that! Regardless of how big or small your outdoor space is, creating shade will encourage you to spend more time relaxing and enjoying being outside staying cool and calm.

From umbrellas and established trees to awnings and structures, here are a few ways you can create shade.

A shade tree

If you’re fortunate enough to have an established tree in your backyard, make the most of it. Often the value of trees is overlooked as we build or bring things into the garden rather than use what’s existing.

We think eating under the foliage of large tree with the dappled sunlight on our back is one of the delights of living outdoors. Or laying on a large rug reading a page or two in between naps. Trees make the ideal natural shade and enhance the feel of your garden.

An umbrella

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Pool area designed by Outdoor Establishments

The design of umbrellas has come a long way over the last few years. No longer do we need to struggle with the flimsy umbrella in the middle of our table, blocking our view and threatening to lift up in a single gust of wind.

Not only are umbrellas now more practical, they’re also much nicer to look at. Ideal for shading eating areas, they provide the flexibility to move around your outdoor space as needed, and there’s no permit required!

An open pergola

When dressed with a creeper, an open pergola structure can create shade and enhance the overall atmosphere of your outdoor space. There’s nothing quite as beautiful as the natural shadows cast on the surface below and the view of blue sky through the thick foliage.

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Creeper covered pergola designed by Eckersley Garden Architecture

A deciduous creeper will provide you with the best of both worlds; allowing you to enjoy the winters sun and the summers shade. Or dress your pergola with a flowering evergreen creeper for coverage all year round. The lush, green structure will also intensify the connection between the built form and the garden, making it blend in well with the surroundings.

A covered structure

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Outdoor undercover area designed by Walter Barda Design

For those who like to utilise their outdoor space all year round, a covered structure may be your best option. A solid ceiling can be a great solution for those looking for shade, weather protection and privacy. Where you still would like light to enter your space, glass or polycarbonate would be recommended. And for those who would like the flexibility to open and close their ceiling depending on the weather, a louvered system would be suitable.

If you are considering a covered structure, remember to relate its proportions with your house to create a connection between the two built forms. Allow for plenty of height and room to make it a more inviting space to be in, particularly on the warmer days. If there is a limited natural breeze into your space and you’re having trouble keeping it cool, install an overhead fan to circulate the air.

An awning

A fabric awning can be a useful shade element in your garden, particularly when you don’t want to have a solid structure built. The motorised technology means with just a flick of a switch you can have instant shade and retract it just as quickly when the sun has passed. Just ensure your chosen awning can cope with heavy rain and wind if you are hoping to use it all year round.

Whether it’s dragging your furniture under a tree, popping up an umbrella or building a permanent structure, creating shade in your garden will encourage you to spend more hours outside.