As the sun finally comes out, our thoughts turn to the burning question of British summers… how can we get some shade? To help you escape the heat we’ve answered that very question with our complete list of garden shade ideas and advice. Enjoy!
Ways to make shade in your garden
1 – Awnings
The gold standard of outdoor shading, you can’t beat an awning. Generally you’ll need to fix an awning to the side of your house, so they’re perfect for making shade in an area where you spend a lot of time, like a patio. They come in a multitude of sizes and colours to suit the space you need. When you need some shade you just have to unwind the awning – this can either be done via a handle or a remote for an electric model. As well as sheltering you outdoors, these have the added benefit of shading rooms inside, keeping them cool and protecting furnishings from fading in the sun.
2 – Shade sails
A very contemporary form of shade, sails can be bright and fun or cool and classy. Layer different sails for complete shading in whichever part of the garden you need and you can make striking designs. Shade sails originated in the heat of Australia, where they’re made from breathable fabric to keep you cool. But in the UK you can also buy waterproof versions as our weather isn’t quite as reliable!
3 – Pergolas and climbing plants
Perfect for creating a private getaway in a corner of the garden for sitting or eating under. Build your wooden structure to allow enough room underneath for whatever activity you’d like to do there. Then plant some climbers like clematis, roses or jasmine to trail over the pergola. Over time this should grow into a lovely leafy canopy offering dappled shade. You could even hang some outdoor curtains on the side of the pergola for added shade and privacy.
4 – Garden screening
Not all sun comes from directly overhead. A stylish way to add some horizontal shading to your garden is through decorative screening. Simply fix the screening rolls of your desired material (from bamboo to artificial ivy) to wire fences or balconies for instant shade. Not only will these look great, they can also make your outdoor space more private.
5 – Trees
If you want the natural solution to escaping the sun, look no further than trees. Yes, they may take many years to grow into a fully mature source of shelter but it will be worth the wait. You’ll have a beautiful, environmentally-conscious addition to the garden offering a perfect spot for a shaded bench or table. Of course the downside is you won’t be able to move the tree to wherever you want shade, so choose your position carefully!
6 – Gazebos and marquees
Whether you’re hosting a royal wedding or family BBQ, a gazebo is the perfect pop-up outdoor room. You get shelter come rain or shine and depending on the size you choose, enough space for a dinner table or dance floor. Adding side walls to your party tent can give you some extra protection against cool breezes, which is a definite bonus as the sun goes down. If you’re keen to entertain in style this summer, look no further than our brand new Indian-style marquees.
7 – Parasols
If you’re limited on space, particularly for storage, then a parasol is likely your shade essential. Compact and stylish, it’ll fit right in the centre of your patio table or stand on the side. Many modern versions have the ability to tilt to help place the shade where you want it, but compared to the other ideas in this list, parasols usually offer a limited area of protection that can leave family members fighting over space in the shadow on a hot day.
Why you need garden shade
As soon as the sun comes out, we love to embrace the luxury of eating outside. But it doesn’t take long to realise that getting sticky in the heat isn’t much fun for diners or the food. Keeping your guests comfortable is key to great entertaining, so it’s worth investing in sufficient shading for your table and all the chairs. It will also help keep your food from spoiling in the sun.
Our top recommendations: awnings, marquees, parasols.
Reading or working
A good book or a bit of focused time on the laptop is wonderful when the weather permits you to take it out into the garden. Neither is ideal, however, in the glare of the sun, which makes it hard to concentrate on the page or screen. The heat can also cause headaches that just make it even harder. So naturally – shade is essential!
Our top recommendations: awnings, shade sails, parasols, trees.
As we become more aware of the potentially dangerous effects of the sun’s rays, it’s natural to want to protect ourselves outdoors. So if you want to enjoy your garden from the shade without worrying about skin cancer, then pay close attention to the UV protection rating of the shading you look at.
As great as British summers can be, they’re not that reliable. We’ve all been there when a lovely sunny party is thrown into jeopardy by an unexpected shower. But what if your garden shade could also offer shelter from these other elements? Unsurprisingly, the thing you’ve got to look out for is waterproof fabric. And of course the extra consideration when planning the best shelter for your gathering – will it be able to cover enough people should the heavens open? Bear in mind too that most of these products will only provide shelter from light showers, not downpours.
Other ways to keep cool in the heat
If even the shade is leaving you in a sweat, what else can you do to keep cool? Luckily we’ve published a whole list of suggestions, from swimming pools to summer houses.
So throw some shade, escape the heat and embrace your summer in the garden!
George worked in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also got involved with our TV ads and web videos.
George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!
He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.