15 Smart Shade Solutions to Shield Your Outdoor Space

covered deck

Nothing wrecks an outdoor experience like a sunbeam that just won't quit. Fortunately, there are a plethora of shade solutions for outside spaces, ranging from modified rooflines to overhead coverings to sun-blocking landscaping. Sift through our ideas to find attractive ways to create shade for decks, porches, and patios. Some are more permanent than others—but all will make you want to grab a book or a friend and enjoy your outdoor room, no matter the time of day.

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Create a Fabric Shield

Tree House Deck

Fortunately for nature lovers, there are far more outdoor-room upgrades than there were just a decade ago—which equals more choices on almost any budget. Case in point: Outdoor fabric is now widely available (in almost any color or print), and it offers a great mid-price solution for outdoor deck shading. Here, a large swath of red fabric stretches across the top tier of this deck, shielding the seating and dining areas.

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Extend the Roof Line


There's an easy shade solution for outdoor rooms that are connected to your home: Simply extend the roof line, if possible, over the deck or patio. In this covered outdoor retreat, white paint brightens up the low-ceilinged space, while slim support posts keep the view to the outdoors uninterrupted.

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Angle Your Roofline


Even if you don't extend a true roof over your outdoor room, you can recruit similar lines and angles to establish shade. In this case, wide-space beams combine with the delicate fringe of a willow tree to create just enough of a covering to banish direct rays from this laid-back seating area.

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Install a Pergola


The amount of shade you need depends on a number of variables—the location of your outdoor room, the patterns of sun in your landscape, and the climate extremes where you live. In some cases, a full-blown covering may not be necessary. Pergolas, for example, can work well in spots that don't experience intense midday and afternoon sun or in climates that don't endure blazing temperatures. This pretty pergola is petite but effective, especially when paired with a trellis, which serves as a barrier between the deck and the house.

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Plan for Versatility


Shade solutions for outdoor spaces are a wonderful luxury, but they may not be necessary at every hour (or in every season). To build in flexibility, mix and match shade offerings with well-placed open spots. Here, a roofline extension over the seating area creates a covered nook, while a slight overhang along the back wall of windows provides sun block for interior spaces on very hot days. An open-air dining area serves as a hangout spot for times of day when the sun is less intense, like at dusk or even after dark.

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Add Extra Protection to Covered Spots

outdoor space

Even if a covered patio or deck receives lots of shade, its particular location may mean sunbeams break through at inconvenient times, invading seating or dining areas just when you want to use them. If that's the case, look to shade solutions that are quick and efficient: roll-down shades, operable shutters, or gauzy drapes that easily slide open.

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Enclose an Existing Pergola


If you already have a pergola, but the open-roof style isn't providing enough protection, the solution may be as simple as enclosing the overhead space. If the sides of your outdoor room are open, leave them that way to retain the benefits of the breeze, without the drawback of the sun's rays.

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Integrate Interior Spaces


Warm-weather climates beg for layouts that let you move seamlessly from interior to exterior. And cold-weather spots can benefit from the principle for at least part of the year. One secret to making the indoor-outdoor transition smooth: adequate overhead covering. Here, wide-open doors can stay ajar for much of the day, thanks to the sun-shielding of a long and wide pergola.

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Invest in an Attractive Umbrella

bright outdoor patio area

A simple outdoor umbrella can make a great shade solution, particularly if your budget or space is tight. You'll find a range of options in every color, style, and size, along with arm extensions to fit nearly any landscape. We love the simplicity of this white umbrella paired with pretty yellow pops.

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Make Shade Flexible

outdoor space

Sometimes, the rays of sun feel warming and welcoming; other times they're an intrusion, sending you scurrying into the shade. If your preferences vary depending on temperature, season, or time of day, flexible fabric or screening solutions that can be stowed may be your best bet. Many utilize a simple pull system to extend or recess the shade, allowing you to easily alter the lighting of your space.

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Work with Your Trees

outdoor space

If you're carving out a new outdoor space, make sure to consider the location of one of your landscape's best features: trees. If you have full-grown trees, stake out flat spots nearby for outdoor dining or seating areas. If your yard lacks mature trees, consider planting fast-growing varieties to create a natural shade solution.

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Experiment with Temporary Solutions


Shade doesn't have to be permanent to be useful: A simple canopy over this serene couch encourages use of the outdoor seating spot on a sunny day. The best part? Solutions like this can be moved to different locations as needed.

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Plan for Shade

outdoor space with pool

For new structures, integrate shady spots into your design in anticipation of how you'll use the space. For example, this pool area features a covered lounge area, providing a getaway for guests who aren't swimming or sunning themselves. By extending the patio pavers into the porch, the homeowners established an easy flow from one space to the next.

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Create Shady Retreats in the Yard


Outdoor rooms attached to the house are convenient—but those that require a little stroll feel like a special retreat. Although pergolas won't shield all the sun's rays, they will add some shade to seating spots, which you can strategically position depending on what time of day you most want to enjoy the space. Situated away from the house, this charming pergola acts as both a conversation spot and a focal point for the landscape.

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Add Walls to Your Hardscaping

covered deck

Mid-height walls can help block the sun, increasing the amount of shade you enjoy in your outdoor rooms. Consider the color: White and light hues won't absorb as much heat. Take a cue from the white flooring, walls, and overhead covering in this outdoor space. The all-white look serves as a simple backdrop for colorful accessories.

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