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6 Creative Backyard Shade Ideas


An outdoor seating area with a large white umbrella casting shade.

Stay out of the sun while enjoying your outdoor rooms with these great ways to add shade to these spaces.

Positioning yourself in the shade not only makes the warm season bearable, but it can also safeguard you against harmful sunlight. A report by the Environmental Working Group found that after a review of 1,700 Sun Protection Factor (SPF) products, including sunscreens, lip balms, and moisturizers, 80 percent provided “inferior sun protection.” It turned out that applying sunscreen with an SPF rating before you head outside for a grilling session may not give you adequate protection from sun damage and related health risks.

How to Add Outdoor Shade to Your Backyard

If those findings don’t convince you to stay in the shade, these attractive ideas for outdoor rooms and spaces will do the job. Here are a few ideas for your own space.

Install a fabric canopy

An outdoor sitting area with orange accents and a gray fabric canopy overhead.
Paul Debois/GAP PhotosTransform a deck into a restful outdoor space by anchoring a fabric canopy to deck railings. Opt for fade-resistant fabric to keep your upgrade looking great for the long run. Get more info on this tent-like topper.

Crack the code and shop smarter when it comes to reading outdoor fabric labels.

Drape a tarp for cover

An outdoor seating area with an orange tarp overhead for shade.
Robert Mabic/GAP PhotosTurn a slatted ceiling or a pergola into a sun-proof space with a moisture-resistant cotton-canvas tarp. See 15 more creative ways to customize your deck.

Get a vibrant look for your outdoor space with how to create a well-traveled terrace.

Or go for a more rustic look with weathered finishes for a stylish porch.

Invest in an outdoor umbrella

An outdoor patio with a seating area and a tilted umbrella to provide shade.
iStockThe time-tested deck and patio go-to helps keep outdoor diners cooler for longer spurts of entertaining. See more charming decoration ideas from this vintage cottage redo with timeless appeal.

Shop some of our picks for patio umbrellas.

Make decorating your outdoor space a breeze with these porch design ideas.

Increase the shade with a pergola

The backyard of the Westerly house with a deck and seating area under a pergola.
Anthony TieuliA pergola can filter out sunlight on decks that aren’t shaded by your trees. Additionally, one can add an architectural point of interest to your grilling space. Get more details on this reader’s pergola project.

Add a little shade to your driveway with our how to build a garage pergola project.

Screen out noise and nosy neighbors with privacy screen upgrades.

Deck out a freestanding structure

A fabric gazebo stands along in a backyard, equipped with lighting, curtains and a table.
iStockBuild your own salvage-style fortress of solitude, and outfit it with a daybed for shady afternoon reading. Learn how to separate the gems from the junk with the This Old House TV crew’s guide to hunting for salvaged items.

Marvel at how a reader turned a front door into a hanging daybed.

dd wisteria to a pergola

A small pergola in a garden with purple wisteria hanging from it. A small yellow table and chair sits under the shade.
iStockSet a scene as magical as the one pictured here with potted, fast-growing Wisteria. It will make even a small urban backyard feel like a remote space.

Transform a small lot with a homeowner’s seven ways to create a small yard with big impact.

Get more inspiration for incorporating climbers into your outdoor space from this picturesque rose garden.

Did you miss our previous article…