A little shade can make a world of difference in your comfort level when lounging outdoors on an otherwise hot spring or summer day. With the shade protecting you from the sun, you’ll feel cooler and more comfortable, allowing you to enjoy your patio. Shaded areas technically aren’t cooler than adjacent sun-exposed areas. However, it feels up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit cooler because of the lack of solar radiation. So how can you create a cool and comfortable shaded area on your patio?
A shade sail is a simple and inexpensive solution to create a shaded area on a patio or outdoor living space. With origins dating back to Ancient Rome, it’s also a time-tested method that’s been passed down for centuries. A shade sail consists of a lightweight membrane fabric that’s stretched and anchored between three or or more points. You stretch the shade sail across your patio, securing the corners to anchor posts. Because of their simple design, shade sails have become a popular choice among homeowners.
Of course, another shade solution to consider using for your patio is an awning. Also known an overhang, it consists of a fabric that’s stretched over a frame and secured to the side of a home or building. Once installed, it creates a supplemental roof, protecting the space underneath from sunlight, rain and the elements. Although there are dozens of different types of awnings, most fall into one of two categories:
If you’re willing to wait a while, you can always create a natural shaded area on your patio by planting some trees on the sun-facing side. When choosing trees, look for species that grow tall and fast. Some excellent choices include red oak (Quercus rubra), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and London planetree (Platanus × hispanica). Just remember to plant them on the side of your patio that faces the mid-day sun. Otherwise, it’s not going to offer much protection from the sun’s rays. As a side benefit, studies have shown that adding trees to a landscape increases the home’s selling value. The Arbor Day Foundation (ADF), for instance, says that mature trees have an appraised value of $1,000 to $10,000. So, even if they cost money and time to plant, it will pay off in the form of a higher home value.
Another simple shade solution for your umbrellas is an umbrella. No, I’m not talking about a traditional umbrella that hold while walking to protect yourself from the rain. There are special types of large, heavy-duty umbrellas designed specifically for use on patios and other outdoor living spaces. They offer a larger coverage area than traditional umbrellas, and they are usually made of durable materials to withstand the harsh outdoor environment for long periods of time. Some of these patio umbrellas mount directly to the top of a table, while others are freestanding. If you already have a table on your patio, consider the former. If you don’t have a table, the latter is probably the best choice for your patio.
A lesser-known shade solution for the patio is a pergola. Typically found in gardens, it consists of multiple horizontal beams that are often covered with plants, flowers or fabric. Some people assume that pergolas are the same as arbors. While they share some similarities, though, they are two unique designs with their own specific characteristics. An arbor, for example, is usually characterized by a wooden bench or seats with an overhanging roof that’s enclosed by lattice panels, whereas a pergola is a larger and more open structure that doesn’t necessarily have seating underneath.
Finally, you can always a build a roof over your patio for shade and protection from the sun. This is probably the best solution in terms of sun protection. However, it’s also the most expensive. According to The Nest, a wood-framed root can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. If you’re on a tight budget, consider a lattice-top roof, which usually runs around $1,000. You can then cover the lattice with a fabric or other material to block sunlight.
These are just a few ways to create shade on your patio. Regardless of which one you use, make sure the design flows cohesively with the resto f your patio decor.
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