15 Wonderful Outdoor Shade Ideas for Your Home

Blue Awning

When the warm weather arrives, we naturally want to be outdoors as much as possible. We dust off the patio furniture, pull the barbecue grill back on the deck, and prepare for a season under the sun.

The only problem? That sun can get pretty sweltering!

Whether you want to block the rays, beat the heat or simply create a cozy ambiance for friends, family, and pets, outdoor shade solutions are a must.

Today, we're sharing 15 ways you can turn your space into a comfortable gathering spot you'll want to hang out in all summer long. 

Ready to learn more? Let's get started!

1. Shade Sails

Made out of weather-resistant materials designed to withstand a variable amount of pressure, shade sails are an innovative and modern way to cover a portion of your outdoor area if you have a home that can accept the wind loads & you invested in an engineered system. If you want a magazine quality shade sail system you will need reinforced walls, 6 foot deep posts embedded with concrete footings & a custom designed fabric to go along with the anchoring system, none of which comes on the cheap. 

Each sail will mount to a steel post and pull taunt, so you never have to worry about it becoming loose or flapping around. The best-quality ones are designed to hold their own against winds up to 100 miles per hour! You can arrange your sails to hang in a variety of ways, including:

  • Horizontally/flat (all corners are the same height)
  • Vertically (for a privacy barrier)
  • At an angle (with overlapping sails)

For a visually stunning installation, mount two or more shades at different elevations, allowing the sightline to flow dramatically from one corner to the other.

2. Patio Umbrellas

When you're looking for a quick and inexpensive way to add patio shade, you can't go wrong with a reliable patio umbrella. Yet, you aren't limited to the solid, uninspiring models that you grew up with. Today, you can find boldly decorated umbrellas in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Whether you simply insert a standard one in the hole in the middle of your patio table, or you invest in a large-scale one to cover most of your back deck, you'll have plenty of options. You can even set up multiple umbrellas to define separate eating, dining and lounging spaces.

3. Retractable Awnings

Looking to add functionality and style to your patio? Why not consider retractable awnings? These mount to the exterior of your home and roll outward, adding a defined area of shade. 

Consider one premium system, The Elite. Built to span up to 80 feet with six projections that reach up to 13 feet, it's a durable and versatile addition to your home. 

Regardless of which specific line you select, most manufacturers allow you to customize your awning to complement any style. In addition to different fabric and mesh styles, you can also add certain functionalities, including:

  • Timers
  • Remote controls
  • Sun sensors
  • Wind sensors

Blue awning over patio and pool

 

4. Palapas

Want to turn your patio into an island oasis? You can really conjure up the laid-back vibes when you install a palapa!

These shades feature a thatched roof that sits atop a bamboo post or posts. You can design standalone palapas that are designed as shelters, making them ideal for backyard picnic areas. Or, you can use them as you would a patio umbrella, adding a unique flair to your outdoor kitchen or bar area.

Not sure where to begin? This guide shows you how to build your very own palapa from scratch!

5. Gazebos

While a gazebo might be more of an initial investment, it's a great way to add a distinct touch of elegance and whimsy to your yard. Plus, you'll always have a permanent location to retreat to when you need a shady spot!

The right gazebo can become the anchor of your outdoor space, serving as a gathering spot for big family gatherings for years to come. Today, you have more options than ever before when you're ready to add one. You can find a local contractor to build one for you, purchase a DIY kit to make one yourself, or even buy ready-made gazebos that install in minutes. 

6. Hedges

Looking to add both shade and privacy? In this case, a tall hedge planted near the border of your property can fit the bill. The best part? You aren't limited to green boxwoods.

There are lots of shrubs that make excellent hedges! From sweet-smelling lilac to colorful Rose of Sharon and eye-catching forsythia, take your time and find one that you'll love to look at all year round.

7. Retractable Window Awnings

Does your home get full sun? If so, you know that it doesn't take long for outside rays to make your home feel warmer, even if the AC's on full blast. To save money on cooling costs, it's smart to install retractable window awnings.

These work to block the sun's rays before they reach the glass in your windows. That way, everyone inside stays comfortable!

You can choose models that cover all of your windows or only a portion of them. You can also adjust the tilt on the awnings thanks to a 165-degree range of motion. This way, you retain full control over how much sun is allowed to enter your room. Like large-scale retractable awnings, you can find window versions that are also available in many fabric colors, as well as different hardware colors!

Tan Window Awning

8. Pop-Up Canopies

While they might not be the most attractive option on the market, pop-up canopies serve their purpose well. You can store a few in your garage or shed and bring them out when you're hosting an outdoor event or dining al fresco!

These canopies work well when you need large-scale, temporary shade relief that's also portable. For this reason, they're also helpful in children's play areas.

9. Drop Shades

Sometimes, you have a larger space that you want to bring indoors, offering a reprieve from the unbearable heat. This might be an entryway, balcony, patio lattice structure, or any other large-scale gathering spot. 

In this case, you can't go wrong with drop shades. These systems use vertically-mounted tracks to add "walls" of shade to your structure. In a few seconds, you can block out rays, cool down and transform the look and feel of your gathering spot. A cinch to install over doors, windows or patio structures, drop shades help you get year-round use out of your outdoor spaces.

drop shades over two windows on stone building

10. Pergolas

More popular in recent years than ever before, pergolas are an attractive and functional addition to your patio. These consist of sturdy vertical posts that support both cross-beams and an open lattice on top.

On their own, pergolas only offer partial sun protection. Though the bare latticework is attractive, there are still plenty of spots for those pesky rays to peek through! To enhance your comfort, you can install rolls of bamboo fabric to cover the holes on top. Or, you can train a vine of greenery to cascade gorgeously throughout the beams.

11. Stationary Awnings

Designed to help your home stay more comfortable and lower energy costs, stationary awnings are similar to retractable window awnings. The main difference? These stay in place and do not roll back. 

You can find a large selection of awning styles to fit any architectural look. For instance, there are awnings designed with details reminiscent of Mediterranean homes, as well as those with Early American, European, French, and Italian touches!

12. Custom Canopies

Want to create a one-of-a-kind look that's all your own? Create a custom canopy!

This is an excellent way to provide both shade and weather protection, allowing you to get the most use out of your outdoor areas. Some of the most common places to install a custom canopy include:

  • Carports
  • Poolside cabanas
  • Decks
  • Outdoor kitchen island covers
  • Room enclosures
  • Entrances

This way, the outdoor party can still go one, regardless of what Mother Nature had in mind.

custom canopy over balcony

13. Patio Curtains

Do you already have an existing pergola, pavilion, canopy or gazebo? To provide maximum sun protection, you can hang patio curtains from these structures. It's up to you whether you install them all the way around or only along a certain portion.

Note that normal interior curtains won't work here. Instead, look for curtains that are specially marketed for outdoor patio use. These will be sturdier and will hold up better in inclement weather.

14. Container Plants/Trees

If building a hedge is out of your wheelhouse, or if you're working around unique space confinements, you can always plant tall-growing plants or trees in containers.

Then, you can place the containers in the exact place you need them to be. For year-round color, you can choose a few different varieties that bloom in different seasons!

15. Roof Extension

When you want permanent shade over your deck or patio, you can always extend your roof over that spot. Of course, this is more of an investment, but if you notice that you're not getting as much use out of your outdoor space as you thought, it can be worth it.

If your home is two-story, you might be able to create a roof structure that also serves as a balcony for the top floor. Important factors to consider include your overall budget and long-term timeline.

Outdoor Shade is a Click Away

Are you looking to add a unique feature to your home that will provide outdoor shade, extend your living space, and give year-round comfort? 

If so, we'd love to connect.

For more than 40 years, we've manufactured the finest retractable awnings, stationary awnings, drop shades and canopies on the market. Check out our vast inventory online and contact us to learn more about how we can help transform your property.