16 Stylish Garden Shade Ideas For A Comfortable Outdoor Retreat
When you have a lush garden beckoning outside, it’s hard to ignore the call. Spring and summer weather means hosting pool parties, firing up the barbecue, reading on porch swings, and playing lawn games. But on those cloudless, blue-sky days when the sun starts to bake your back garden, the heat can seriously get in the way of the festivities. It’s no fun to stand outside while you’re sweating and squinting. You’ll need to know how to create shade in your garden to keep the good times rolling.
At Harbour Lifestyle, we’re all about adding luxury, comfort, and style to your outdoor living space. So to help you beat the heat this summer, we’ve compiled a list of 17 of the best garden shade ideas in the UK. Read on to find new ways to cool off in your beautiful outdoor oasis.
1. Enjoy a Modern Pergola PergoSTET 3m x 4m Rectangular Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in White £3,999
A modern pergola is one of our favourite outdoor shade ideas. A pergola creates an inviting focal point in the garden and adds an element of elegance to your space. It also defines an area for relaxation, entertaining, or dining while still allowing for an open, airy atmosphere.
Modern aluminium pergolas come with many useful features, like closable louvered roofs, adjustable side shades, water drainage, and LED mood lighting. These make modern pergolas not just shade structures but high-tech, modern living features that will let you enjoy the outdoors in style.
2. Install an Overhang
If you have an outdoor space devoid of shade, consider installing an overhang. While this is undoubtedly a more expensive option, it will transform your space into a true outdoor living room with maximum functionality for years down the line.
Create a covered deck or balcony, or add a shaded extension to your porch. Then, install some lights and outdoor ceiling heaters to warm the space in the winter months.
3. Include a Garden Parasol
A garden umbrella, or parasol, is another fantastic way to provide some much-needed outdoor shade.
A freestanding garden parasol like the one above can shade an outdoor couch from direct sunlight, creating a relaxing lounge area for guests to cool off in the garden. While furniture with all-weather fabric is quite durable, a parasol can add an extra layer of protection and help it last even longer. A parasol can also help protect your plants and other garden accessories from the sun’s harsh UV rays on sweltering days.
Some parasols have wheels attached to the base, so you can move them around depending on the areas that need the most shade.
4. Strategically Plant Trees
Using trees to shade your outdoor living space is a natural and sustainable approach. If you don’t already have mature trees in your garden, now is a great time to plant young trees.
As their canopies grow, you’ll enjoy more and more shade over the years. Plant trees strategically around your outdoor area, taking into account the sun's path and your desired shade coverage. Consider planting trees next to a pool that gets the full heat of the sun or near an uncovered dining area. Or, if you have an existing mature tree where you want to install a deck, consider building around the tree instead of cutting it down. That way, you’ll have natural shade over your deck for years.
You’ll need to stay on top of regular pruning and maintenance to ensure healthy growth and to shape the canopies to your liking. However, planting trees in your garden can be so rewarding. You’ll not only enjoy the added shade you’ll also support your local wildlife and enhance your yard with natural beauty.
5. Renovate a Garden Shed
Image source: Arno Smit
Looking for a DIY project in the garden this summer? Turn an old, ugly shed into a lovely garden sun shelter. Spruce up a shed or other dilapidated garden structure with a new paint job, windows, or roof renovation.
You can then transform your shed into a cosy outdoor gathering space by adding electricity, lighting, and comfortable garden seating – take a look at our guide on garden seating ideas for more inspiration.
It can serve as a sheltered area for hosting small parties and barbeques or simply as a place to relax and enjoy your garden.
Renovating a garden shed also allows you to integrate it seamlessly into your overall yard design. Choose materials, colours, and finishes that complement your existing landscaping and house architecture.
6. Go Big With a Cantilever Parasol
If you have a large area that needs shade, a big cantilever parasol is a fantastic and practical option.
A cantilever parasol is freestanding and includes an arm that extends the canopy over your seating space. You can adjust the umbrella's height and easily open and close the canopy when the sun emerges from the clouds.
7. Add an Awning
Next up on our list of patio and deck shade ideas: awnings. While you might associate awnings with storefronts or outdoor cafes, they can make stylish and functional additions to your backyard as well.
Awnings come in various styles and designs, so you can customise them to your design preferences. Plus, many awnings are adjustable, so you can open and close them depending on the weather. Whether you want to create a cosy lounge area or a shaded dining spot, an awning can add tons of versatility and comfort to your outdoor living experience.
8. Hang Up a Sail Canopy
Image Source: Pexels
If you’re on the hunt for alternative shade ideas for your patio, consider a sail canopy. Also called shade sails, sail canopies are large fabric canopies that are secured above your space at several anchor points and stretched taut to shield the below area from the sun.
They are usually quite easy to install, though you’ll need to consider the angle of the sun and the size of the space you need to shade. You can place the anchor points on poles, the sides of your home, and tall fences.
There are plenty of customisable garden sail canopy ideas out there, with tons of sleek designs and colours. While not the most long-lasting option, a sail canopy is a quick way to refresh and shade your garden. Place above a garden sofa set and you’ve got your own secluded space to relax.
9. Lounge on a Covered Daybed
Yearning to lounge out in the sun, even on hot days? Consider getting a unique daybed or lounger with an adjustable sun shade. The daybed above has an adjustable roof that creates a cosy dome. This garden seating addition creates an ultra-inviting space where you can nestle in to read or nap.
10. Dine Under a Table Parasol
If you want to fire up the grill and host outdoor meals this summer, consider a parasol that attaches to the centre of your outdoor dining table.
A table parasol is a practical and versatile addition to your outdoor dining setup, offering shade, protection, and a touch of elegance to your al fresco meals.
You’ll shield yourself from direct sunlight, allowing for a more enjoyable dining experience. Keep the drinks cold and your guests happy by allowing them to eat outside without having to lather up with loads of sunscreen first.
Make your outdoor dining setup even more comfortable and stylish with garden rope furniture that’s both beautiful and built to last.
11. Plant an Ivy Wall
Trees aren’t the only plants that can add shade to your garden. Place your dining table near an ivy wall or plant a hedge row that will eventually grow and cast shade over your seating area. Though it may take time for your plants to take hold and provide lots of shade, with some patience and care, you’ll end up with a natural and lush shade solution.
12. Relax on a Covered Swing Chair
We could all use a little more relaxation in our lives, and what better way to unwind than lounging on a shaded swing in the garden?
A swing chair is a fun garden seating idea that adds a sense of calm to your entire outdoor living space. The swing chair above includes an attached, tiltable canopy, so loungers can swing while staying nice and cool in the garden. A covered hanging chair is also a great way to fill empty space by the pool or on a porch or deck, out where there isn’t any shade provided by trees or an overhang.
13. Grow a Flower Canopy
A blanket of flowers or climbers makes for a stunning garden shade canopy. Grow flowering plants along the roof of your traditional pergola or up tall trellises near your entertainment area. Flowers hanging above your outdoor seating will add pops of colour and make your space feel whimsical and romantic. Several excellent plants and climber options in the UK include star jasmine, wisteria, climbing hydrangea, honeysuckle, and climbing roses.
14. Build a Pool House
Image Source: Max Rahubovskiy
A pool house is a luxurious patio idea and a massive addition to your outdoor living space. A pool house or cabana offers a designated area to retreat from direct sunlight and seek shelter on hot and sunny days.
With a pool house nearby, you can also extend the time you spend around your pool. Instead of being limited to swimming during the early morning or late evening hours when the sun is less intense, you and your guests can alternate between the water and the shade throughout the day, without worrying about excessive sun exposure.
Plus, a pool house can serve multiple purposes beyond providing shade. You can add a shower, a restroom, seating areas, outdoor furniture, a dining table, or even an outdoor cooking setup. While it’s certainly an investment, a pool house is a great way to add shade by the pool whilst also making outdoor entertaining a breeze.
15. Wooden Pergola
A traditional wooden pergola is another popular option to add shade to the garden. While it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of a modern pergola, a wooden pergola is a classic shade structure that partially filters sunlight through a slatted roof.
If you want to add more shade to a wooden pergola, you can grow climbing plants along the roof slats. You can also customise a traditional pergola with string lights or curtains if you wish. Pair with a firepit set or casual dining set and see off the day in style.
16. Introduce a Gazebo
Image Source: Photo by Brice Curry
A gazebo with a garden bench makes for a unique garden shade structure that’s both quaint and charming. This traditional shade structure will invite guests to wander out into the garden and take a seat, where they can admire your summer flowers and take in the tranquil sounds of nature. A gazebo might remind guests of a park or botanical garden. It can also become a lovely, quiet spot for daily meditation, reading, and conversations.
These shade solutions can transform a hot garden into a far more pleasant and comfortable environment. Structures, greenery, and parasols can all make your garden a cool and relaxing retreat, especially during the hot summer months.
More shade will encourage you to spend more time outdoors, whether you’re entertaining guests, playing with the kids, or unwinding in nature. These shade ideas will seamlessly integrate with our favourite garden furniture ideas and are sure to make your yard all the more inviting. With stylish and modern shade solutions, you won’t think twice about spending more time outside this year!