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Garden Shade Ideas To Keep Cool This Summer


Summer is a wonderful time of the year, and the shining sun makes everything feel much better. However, it’s important to take a break from direct sun rays, and if you don’t want to retreat indoors, quality garden shade ideas will be your saving grace this summer. Shade is essential in every garden for many reasons, so here are our favourite garden shade ideas to keep you safe and happy this summer and beyond.

Why Is Shade Important In The Garden?

Although there are plenty of ways to enjoy the sun responsibly, it’s easy to forget these when the sun’s shining bright. Yet, shade is vital throughout the day no matter where you are, but garden shading is vital for summer. Here are the main reasons why shade is so important in your garden:

  1. UV Protection – Protection from the sun is one of the biggest reasons shade is essential in the garden. Quality shade can reduce UV exposure by up to 75%[i], helping protect you and your family from the sun’s harmful UV rays without missing out on the lovely weather.
  2. All Year Round Shelter – As well as the sun, quality shade can protect you and your garden visitors from all weathers. Whether it’s raining or snowing, cloudy or stormy, whenever you need your garden, excellent shade guarantees that you will be able to use it.
  3. Keeps You Cool – Of course, shade can’t change the outdoor temperature, but staying beneath shade can prevent the body from overheating. Plus, direct sunlight makes it feel even hotter and having a shady spot will allow you to shield yourself from the climbing temperatures.
  4. Protects Eyesight – Parts of the human eye can filter UV light, but overdoing this can reduce the power of your eyesight and lead to severe damage, such as cataracts and eye cancer. Adequate garden shade will relieve you and your guests from the bright sunlight and reduce the chances of eyestrain and more permanent damage.
  5. Allows Safe Socialising – Whether you’re having friends and family for a dinner al fresco or want to move your home office outside to enjoy the beautiful summer days, shade will protect you from the effects of the sun so you can enjoy your time outdoors.

Our Top 10 Garden Shade Ideas

So, as you can see, shade should be a priority in your outdoor space. It will protect you and your family and friends from all weathers and some serious long term harm. Fortunately, there are plenty of garden shade ideas that will suit any garden style. Here are our top 10 garden shade ideas to try out this summer.

1. Grow Trees For Natural Shelter

Natural shelter that blends in is excellent for a garden because it makes you feel closer to nature without having to experience the harsher parts of it. Planting bushy, fast-growing trees in a mindful garden design ensures that you will always have some form of shade to retreat into when the temperatures start to soar. With the addition of a fitted tree bench and some comfy bench cushions, you can have an overhanging haven of shade no matter what time of year you use your garden.

Some great trees for shade include:

  • Hornbeam
  • Quaking aspen
  • Maple
  • Pin oak
  • Tuliptree
  • Dawn redwood[ii]

2. Make Use of Overhanging Foliage

Although overhanging foliage, particularly hedges and trees, may seem like a nuisance when you’re trying to enjoy your garden, they are a godsend for shade in summer. And, if you’re struggling with overhanging foliage in your garden at the moment, the shade is already available! So, avoid trimming back those hedges and work them into shaded socialising spots.

First, figure out which part of your garden will get the most shade from overhanging foliage, then plan around this. Next, add lighting to your garden’s new shady area and plenty of furniture – wooden Adirondack chairs work great for light shade – to make the spot nice and cosy. Finally, if you’d like a deeper sun cover, don’t be afraid to grow your own overhanging plants to bulk out the shade.   

3. Hang A Sail Shade

Since sail shades and similar options, including sun shades, are often spotted outside cafes and schools, they can seem too commercial for your personal space. Yet, there are more decorative options that will add some personality to your garden or patio. So whether you’re looking for a brightly coloured shade or a printed one to form a cohesive design with your planting, there’s a sail shade that will fit your garden.

Also, you should definitely consider choosing a curved awning. The more shapely design will provide grace and softness to the space while still offering quality sun protection.

4. Invest In A Sturdy Pergola

Pergolas are a very stylish, modern way of shading your garden. With a sturdy structure and protection from direct sunlight, pergolas are essentially an extension of your living space so that you can feel more at home in your garden.

For complete protection from UV rays beneath a pergola, you should couple it with a shade cover. Alternatively, you could invest in a pergola equipped with vented roof shutters. These allow you to choose how much shade you’d like to catch some rays one warm afternoon and protect yourself from the summer rain the next.

5. Try Moving Shade

Whether it’s slotted into an outdoor dining table or standing on its own, a parasol is perfect for long days in the sun. With a parasol, you can adjust the shade depending on the direction of the sun, guaranteeing all-day protection. If your desired socialising area is out in the open, a moveable shade solution is the best option for full shelter.  

Some alternative moveable shade options include:

  • Retractable canopy awnings
  • Adjustable shade sails
  • Moveable outdoor umbrella

6. Hang A Fabric Company

Of course, garden shade ideas don’t have to be overly complicated. A simple fabric canopy attached to surrounding trees or supported by garden screening creates the perfect private, shaded spot. Plus, fabrics designed for outdoor use benefit from being waterproof and UV resistant, meaning you can leave your canopy up almost all year round. Finally, to add some flare, choose a brightly coloured or prettily patterned fabric – your garden will be the place to be!

7. Add An Arbour

If you’re creating a country-styled garden, an arbour is the perfect charming addition for shade. With a vintage style that fits any garden theme, an arbour is a romantic structure that offsets country-style plants and accessories perfectly. Arbours come in many shapes and sizes, so whether you’re looking for garden shade ideas for two or twenty, a style of arbour will suit your needs. Fortunately, they are also rather inexpensive, depending on the size you’re looking for.

8. Attach An Awning

An attachable awning for shade over a patio is a great space-saving option. A hanging awning attached to the exterior wall of your home provides a retractable source of shelter. Fortunately, many modern awnings are electrical, meaning you can retract and open out your shade as and when you need it quick as a flash.

Retractable awnings are also fantastic in the rain, where other shade options may sometimes fail. Since they are made from water repellent material, an awning will provide quality rain protection from most showers. However, ensure that you have your awning at a pitch of at least 14 degrees so that the rainwater can trickle off rather than pool in the awning[iii].

9. Plant Some Climbing Plants

Shading areas of your garden with climbing plants is a great natural shelter, and one of the most beautiful. Encourage climbing plants to begin growing across a strong trellis or pergola to protect a patio area for outdoor dining or a socialising spot slap bang in the middle of your garden. Plus, many climbing plants have a lovely scent that will make your time in the garden even better.

Some beautiful climbing plants for shade include:

  • Honeysuckle
  • Grapevines
  • Clematis
  • Wisteria
  • Climbing roses

10. Build A Summerhouse

Outbuildings, like summerhouses and garden rooms, are a favourite for garden shelter because they provide privacy as well as protection. Of course, you can build a freestanding garden room or summerhouse wherever you’d like in your garden. However, some options can be attached to an existing wall, extending your living space and bringing you closer to nature.

Of course, building a new structure isn’t the most affordable option. However, if you have the budget, a sturdy summer house will offer unwavering protection all year round. 

Incorporating These Garden Shade Ideas Into Your Garden

You can’t dispute the importance of sun protection. And, with a combination of these garden shade ideas, you can protect visitors to your garden all year round. From easy to extravagant, whichever of these garden shade ideas you choose, we’re certain that you’ll be spending all summer beneath them.

Do you have any garden shade ideas you think should be on this list? Let us know!


  [i] https://www.cancer.nsw.gov.au/prevention-and-screening/preventing-cancer/preventing-skin-cancer/shade-and-uv-protection/why-is-shade-important-for-uv-protection

[ii] https://arbordayblog.org/landscapedesign/12-fast-growing-shade-trees/

[iii] https://www.patioandgardenshading.co.uk/blog/post/can-i-use-my-garden-awning-all-year-round

Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

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