6 Top Shade Options to Keep you Cool this Summer

There are few things better on a hot summer day than putting your feet up in the shade and sipping a frosty glass of iced tea. Providing a shady oasis where people can relax is one of the best ways that you can make your outdoor space welcoming for friends and family, as well as a soothing haven for yourself after a long day.

Read on for 6 great ways to enjoy the cool!

1. Awnings

retractable awning

Awnings are a popular choice for giving shade to decks, patios, and porches. They can be rigid or retractable, with rigid models made of materials such as extruded metal, wood, or polycarbonate, and retractable awnings made of flexible materials such as vinyl or canvas.

The benefit of an awning is that it covers your whole deck or patio, giving you a large area of shade that everyone can share. The downside is that an awning can be a larger investment than some other shade options, depending on the type of awning you buy.

A lot of families love their retractable awnings because they give them the choice of enjoying the sun or relaxing in the shade. If you choose a retractable awning, experts recommend choosing one that comes with both a motor for convenience and a manual option that you can use if the power goes out.

Motorized retractable awnings can be a bit costly, though: a basic 10-by-16-foot model can run from about $2,000 to $3,5000, and will get more expensive if you add bells and whistles such as remote control, wind and rain sensors, and the like.

Non-motorized retractable awnings, on the other hand, start at a few hundred dollars and go up from there. Cranking an awning by hand can be pretty inconvenient and even downright difficult, however.

If you prefer a permanently-shaded deck or patio, a fixed awning or patio cover is the way to go. Prices start around $1,500 and range widely depending on the material you choose, with canvas generally being the least expensive.

You can also get an extruded metal awning, or a wood awning. Polycarbonate patio covers protect you from the rain and some have UV protection, but they are transparent and therefore don’t provide shade. (Photo courtesy of ERS Shading)

2. Shade Canopies

best backyard shade

Shade canopies are a less-expensive shade option for your outdoor living space. Also called shade tarps or shade sails, these are basically rectangular pieces of light material that you can stretch over top of sitting areas to block the sun’s rays.

You can buy a shade canopy for as little as $35, and a nicer one for about $100. Shade canopies come in various sizes and colors, so they can also be a creative part of your outdoor decorating.

They attach to trees or other structures with hooks, so they are relatively easy to move around when the mood strikes you.

3. Deck Umbrellas

backyard decorating ideas

Deck umbrellas or patio umbrellas are a perennial favorite for homeowners, and for good reason. They are relatively inexpensive compared to awnings or pergolas, with the smaller ones starting at about $60.

You can also get a table that has a larger patio umbrella incorporated into the table, providing shade for anyone who sits there. The upside of patio umbrellas is that they’re inexpensive and portable; the downside is that they provide shade only for a very limited area.

Whether or not the limited amount of shade will be a downside for you will depend on how many people you plan to provide shade for.

4. Pergolas, Gazebos or Arbors

backyard shade ideas

Pergolas or gazebos are beautiful additions to your property that will enhance the ambiance of your outdoor living space. Arbors, as well as some pergolas and gazebos also can allow you the opportunity to incorporate climbing plants into your outdoor décor.

The prices for pergolas and gazebos vary widely depending on the size and materials.

You can get a small steel pergola with a polyester cover for a few hundred dollars, while a large composite pergola costs over $2,000, and a custom-made wood pergola would cost much more. Gazebos are about the same on the low end, but a larger vinyl gazebo with a shingle roof will cost $5,000 or more.

High-end gazebos tend to cost more than pergolas because they usually have solid roofs; if you’re looking for shade, keep this in mind. Some gazebos have roofs with cutouts, and most pergolas do as well, so they only offer partial shade unless you add a cover to them.

If you prefer to go the DIY route and build your own pergola or shade arbor, here are some tips from Today’s Homeowner.

5. Enclosed Porches

enclosed porch

Some homeowners decide to add an enclosed porch so they can enjoy the fresh air without all the sun and bugs that go along with the outdoors. Building an enclosed porch is a home improvement project on-par with adding on an extra room, so be ready to make a major investment. However, no more mosquitoes just might be worth it!

6. Shade Trees

best shade trees

Resting under a shade tree is one of the most beautiful ways to take a cool break from the hot sun, and planting shade trees on your property is the most natural of our 6 shade options. This is a long-term investment, of course; you definitely won’t be resting this summer (or next summer) under the shade of a tree that you plant this year.

But it doesn’t take quite as long as you might think, either: there are fast-growing shade trees that can have you basking in their cool shadow within 5 to 6 years after you plant them, which is pretty quick in tree terms.

This slideshow from This Old House lists 7 fast-growing shade trees such as the northern red oak (Quercus rubra, see photo above), which can grow in USDA hardiness zones 3b to 8a. And don’t worry—there are plenty of beautiful blooms and scrumptious veggies that will thrive in the shady part of your garden.

Tip: Keep it Clean with Wet & Forget Outdoor!

best outdoor cleaner

If your awning, shade canopy, deck umbrella, pergola, or gazebo falls victim to disgusting moss, algae, lichen, or mold and mildew, eliminate the problem the easy way with Wet & Forget Outdoor. Wet & Forget Outdoor wipes out ugly outdoor growths with no scrubbing, bleaching, or pressure washing needed—just spray and forget about it!

Wet & Forget Outdoor’s gentle, non-caustic formula works with the wind and rain to eliminate stains over time, so it’s safe to use on almost any outdoor surface, including your vinyl or canvas awning, your fabric shade canopy, wood pergola, or even your patio umbrella.

Best of all, Wet & Forget Outdoor keeps on working to keep these ugly stains away for a year or more in most cases!

Click here to see how Judy beat disgusting black mold on her canvas awning when she thought she would have to throw it away, and click here to see how Steve conquered mold and mildew on his pergola.

Click here for instructions on using Wet & Forget Outdoor to clean your awning; use these same instructions for shade canopies and patio umbrellas.

To clean your gazebo, pergola, porch, or deck with Wet & Forget Outdoor Concentrate:

  1. Mix 1 part Wet & Forget Outdoor with 5 parts water in a pump-up garden sprayer.
  2. Spray the affected surface with the diluted Wet & Forget solution at a time that allows at least 4 to 5 hours’ drying time before the threat of rain.
  3. Walk away, and let Wet & Forget Outdoor do all the work for you!
  4. Re-treat once a year, or at the first sign of re-growth.

For large porch and decks, we recommend using Wet & Forget Hose End.

To treat moss, make sure to saturate the moss thoroughly so the Wet & Forget solution can penetrate the moss’s root-like structures. For lichen, follow these special instructions.

Enjoy the shade! Stop by our website for easy solutions to everyday problems, so you can spend more time relaxing and less time cleaning this summer.

Photos courtesy of Laszlo Ilyes, ERS Shading, Denver Awning, Marissa Anderson, Patrick Feller, Wicker Paradise, and Wendy Cutler.

Stay cool this summer with these shade options for your backyard!



  1. I admit that I haven’t given enough thought to putting these types of shading devices into my backyard. Of all of the options, I would probably go with a large shade canopy or at least a deck umbrella or two. I imagine that, relative to the cost, that they would be a good investment into my home’s value.

  2. My yard doesn’t have any trees and so I have been trying to find suitable shade options, because last summer was just too hot without any shade. I’m about to plant a tree, but I know that it is going to take a while before it gives us sufficient shade. However, I really like the idea of getting a retractable awning to cover our patio and so I really appreciate you mentioning that in this post. I think that it would provide us with exactly what we need to live more comfortably.

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