Creative Pergola Shade Ideas for Every Garden

Creative Pergola Shade Ideas for Every Garden

There’s nothing quite like the great British outdoors. Optimistically armed with barbeques and sunglasses, we love to make the most of it when the sun finally decides to grace us with its presence. But even the most ardent sun worshipper needs a bit of shade every now and now. Enter the pergola. The unsung hero of our gardens, pergolas are versatile outdoor structures that transform outdoor spaces while providing dappled shade, creating the perfect spot for relaxation and entertaining. They protect us from the elements but still allow the sun to peep in and the breeze to flow through. 

A pergola also looks stunning when covered with climbing plants like ivy, wisteria or roses, bringing nature to your doorstep. But just how much shade and protection do they actually give? We all know the weather here in the UK can be a bit unpredictable, to say the least. One minute it’s sunny, and the next it’s raining cats and dogs. That’s where outdoor pergola shade cover ideas come in. From chic fabric canopies that add a touch of elegance to modern and adaptable louvre roofs, we’ve got ideas to suit every style, pergola and garden size. 

So, whether you’re planning on a major garden revamp or just dreaming of sunnier days, stick with us and read on as we dive into pergola sun shade ideas — perfect for those who love to enjoy their garden come rain or shine.


What is the point of pergola shade?

The purpose of a pergola is to add shade to your outdoor space and enhance your outdoor living experience. They’re perfect for providing relief and protection from the sometimes bright and harmful rays of the sun, especially during the spring and summer months, while still allowing light to fill the space. 

Typically featuring an open lattice or louvre roof, a pergola is the middle ground between stocking up on vitamin D by soaking up the sun and staying cool under the cover. Plus, pergola shade can also protect against the rain when the weather does a classic British turnaround. They’re also a stylish way to inject some character into your garden — perfect for hosting garden parties, enjoying your latest read outside or creating a cosy space for your afternoon cuppa. 


Pergola shade ideas: different types of pergola shade

With so many outdoor pergola shade ideas out there, you're spoilt for choice. Use and combine them to transform your pergola into a versatile and weather-ready haven that's a comfortable place to spend time — even on the hottest days. And with a range of designs and materials to choose from, it's even easier than you might think. We've put together the crème de la crème of pergola shade ideas to help inspire you.


Roofed Pergolas

PergoSTET 3m x 4m Rectangular Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in White

A classic fully roofed pergola offers a permanent shade solution that creates a sheltered spot that's protected from the elements. Choose from materials like classic wood, modern aluminium or strong steel to either match or contrast your home. 

They're ideal for those who love to spend time outdoors regardless of the weather, providing reliable shelter for outdoor dining or lounging. Plus, they're an excellent sturdy base for hanging lights for extra illumination and ambience.

Pergolas With Rain Protection

PergoSTET 3m x 4m Rectangular Wall Mounted Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in Grey - £3,799.00

In the UK, planning for rain is always a wise move. That's why pergolas with rain protection are a must. Made from waterproof materials and fabrics that won't rust, they ensure that a little bit of rain won't disrupt your outdoor plans. 

They also strike a balance between letting in natural light and keeping the area dry for hosting outdoor gatherings. Some even come with drop sides for extra shelter and built-in drainage systems to channel rainwater away effectively to avoid unwanted puddles and flooding.

Louvred Pergolas

PergoSTET 3m x 4m Rectangular Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in Grey - £3,999

Sleek, stylish and oh-so-smart louvred pergolas are for anyone who loves a modern and contemporary look. Their adjustable slats let you play peek-a-boo with the sun and give you control over the amount of sunlight filtering through. Want a bit of a breeze? No problem. Just open them up. Need some more shade again? Close them at the press of a button.  

Use Fabric

Source - Pinterest

Throwing some fabric over your pergola is a simple yet effective way to add some more shade and give your garden a quick makeover. Choose light, breezy materials for a laid-back boho vibe and a soft and romantic atmosphere or take inspiration from abroad, like Mexico and Asia, and go bold with bright colours. The best part? You can switch it up whenever you get bored and fancy a change. It’s amazing what a few metres of fabric can do. 

Wooden Pergola with Retractable Roof

Source - Pinterest

Combining the natural beauty of wood with the convenience of a retractable roof, these pergolas offer the best of both worlds. You get the rustic charm of wood, can enjoy the sun when it’s out and can quickly cover up if the weather turns. It’s the best choice for anyone who can’t decide between basking in the sun and chilling in the shade.


Metal Pergola with Retractable Roof

PergoSTET 3m x 4m Rectangular Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in Grey - £3,999


Think of a metal pergola with a retractable roof as the garden equivalent of a convertible car — modern and super practical. They’re also durable, pretty low maintenance and bring a contemporary edge to your garden. More time relaxing and less time fussing — what’s not to love?  

Wooden Pergola with Retractable Roof and Sides

Source - Pinterest

If you want to create as much shade as possible, a wooden pergola with a retractable roof and sides is where it’s at. Have the side down for a cosy hideaway and added privacy or roll them up for a breezy and open space. It’s basically like having a little secret garden room.

Classic Canopy

Source - Pinterest 

You know what they say — you can never go wrong with a classic. And it’s no different when it comes to a canopy. Old-school, familiar and welcoming, it’s the comfort food of pergolas. They come in all sorts of colours and patterns, meaning you can match them to your garden or your mood.

Hang Curtains

Source - Pinterest

Who said that curtains were just for windows? Hanging them around your pergola can turn it into a super chic and romantic space that’s perfect for summer date nights at home. They’re a handy pergola shade idea for your patio to block out that low-lying sun or add a bit of drama to your garden soirees. 

Grow a Living Roof

Source - Pinterest

For those with a green thumb, being able to grow a living and breathing green roof on your pergola is a dream come true. Climbing plants like wisteria add natural shade that changes with the seasons and a burst of lush greenery. They even improve air quality!

Pergola Tents

Source - Pinterest 

A fun and flexible option, pergola tents can be set up for special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries, or used as a semi-permanent outdoor feature if you’re not quite ready to commit to a full-blown pergola. Pop them up for a summer party or a cosy autumn evening get-together with friends. 

Available in all sorts of styles, they add a festival-esque touch to your garden. String up some fairy lights and lanterns, and your garden will be the place everyone wants to be.

Pergola ideas: decorating and furnishing your shaded pergola

Once you’ve got your shade sorted, it’s time to have some fun! With the right furnishings and décor, you can turn that bare structure into the heart of your garden. 


Kick Back in a Relaxation Zone 

PergoSTET 3m x 3m Steel Square Pergola in Grey - £1,429.00

Transform a corner of your garden into the ultimate relaxation zone. Think comfy loungers or a swing seat draped with plenty of soft blankets and plush cushions in different colours and patterns. Add an outdoor rug for a nice, soft surface for your feet and kick back with a good book or a nap without worrying about getting burnt by the sun. 

Add a small side table for your drinks and snacks and maybe even a scented candle or two - just remember to always keep an eye on the flame.

Prioritise Comfortable Seating 

PergoSTET 3m x 4m Rectangular Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in Grey - £3,999.00

Luna Outdoor Fabric Rectangular Corner Dining Set with Rising Firepit Table in Oyster Grey (Right Hand) - £3,999

Comfort should be your top focus. After all, it’s key to just about any pergola. Choose deep, cushioned outdoor corner sofas for guests to spread out or armchairs that invite you to sink in and relax. Add a fire pit for an impressive focal point perfect for gathering around for catch-ups, drinks, and maybe roasting a marshmallow or two on cosy nights.

Throw a Garden Party

Luna Deluxe Outdoor Fabric Square Corner Dining Set with Rising Firepit Table in Oyster Grey - £4,299.00

Party the day and night away in your pergola! The perfect venue for just about any garden party, deck the area out with festive décor like bunting, outdoor lighting, heaters for extra warmth and colourful cushions. A few well-placed tables for snacks and drinks, and you’ve got yourself a party-ready pergola that everyone will love. 

Design a Covered Outdoor Kitchen

Fontana Mangiafuoco Stainless Wood Pizza Oven Including Trolley - £2,999.00

So, you happen to be a major cooking and entertaining enthusiast? One great outdoor pergola shade idea is to create an outdoor kitchen. Equip your space with a premium BBQ grill, prep counter, outdoor fridge and pizza oven for mouth-watering rustic pizza that’ll have everyone asking for more. 

Add a Bar 

Luna 6 Seat Teak Firepit Bar Set in Grey - £3,849

Try your hand at mixology and turn your pergola into an exclusive bar where the drinks are cool and the conversation flows. Add a bar set decked out with your favourite spirits, mocktails, ice and glassware. Throw in some sleek bar stools and decorate with an array of garnishes like bright citrus fruits, fresh herbs and colourful berries. 

Place a couple of cocktail books on the counter for inspiration for yourself and your guests, outdoor lanterns for ambience, and don’t forget a shiny cocktail shaker or two for that professional flair. Whether it’s a Sunday brunch mimosa or a Friday night martini, you’ll be the hottest bar in town.

Discover your perfect pergola with Harbour Lifestyle

Let’s face it, the right pergola can turn a simple garden into a cool oasis. It’s all about creating the perfect shade for a comfortable space to spend balmy summer days and shield yourself when it rains.

Now that you’re armed with ideas and inspiration, why stop there? With Harbour Lifestyle’s range of premium pergolas, the perfect garden is just a click away. Combining style, functionality and quality, our award-winning designs aren’t just made to stand in your garden but also to enhance it. From sun-drenched brunches to starlit evening parties, our pergolas provide the perfect backdrop for every occasion. 

Don’t just take our word for it — explore our lifestyle range and see for yourself. Your ideal pergola awaits!




What can you use to shade a pergola?

Retractable roofs, louvred slats, curtains and canopies are all great ways to provide your pergola with extra shade. Climbing plants like ivy can also add natural shade while enhancing its aesthetic appeal, and solid roofs made from wood or metal are a good option for a more permanent solution. 


How do you shade the top of a pergola?

To shade a pergola, use fabric or curtains and attach a fabric canopy directly over the top of the beams. Alternatively, you can install or buy a pergola with already installed louvred panels for flexible and controllable shade whenever you need it.


How do you block the sun on a pergola?

Block the sun on your pergola by using a retractable canopy, roof or curtains that can be drawn to block sunlight. These light and natural materials offer respite from the sun while still allowing some natural light to peek through and complement modern and traditional pergola designs.

A pergola with adjustable louvres allows you to control your sun exposure, whereas a fully solid roof blocks the sun throughout the entire day, ensuring a cool and comfortable space underneath.


How do you get the most shade out of your pergola?

Maximising the shade of your pergola really comes down to choosing the right roof or covering. We recommend selecting a retractable, louvred or solid roof to get the most shade you can. 

Your pergola's placement also makes a big difference. It's important to place it strategically in relation to the sun and its path. You could also add curtains or invest in a pergola with drop sides for extra shade, especially in the late afternoon when the sun is at an angle.