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A backyard patio with a wooden awning above and a green yard in the background.

10 Backyard Shade Ideas & Patio Shade Solutions

Looking for shade ideas for your backyard or patio? From permanent shade structures like pergolas to temporary shade solutions like patio umbrellas, there are several outdoor shade ideas that can keep your backyard cool and comfortable. Check out this list of ten shade solutions for backyards and patios!

Build a Gazebo

Investing in a gazebo can take your backyard to the next level, as these shade structures make for an attractive addition to any outdoor living space. With a full roof and half-wall sides, gazebos offer significant protection from sunlight and the elements. Compared to less permanent backyard shade ideas, gazebos are a considerable financial commitment, but the beauty and function they can add to your yard or patio is well worth the price for those who spend a lot of time outdoors. Customize a gazebo according to your aesthetic and budget with different styles and materials—like wood or brick—and decorate it with features like backyard lighting, curtains, and more.

Construct a Pergola

Pergola with patio seating and grill beneath it. Photo by Instagram user @mimabadali.

Photo via @mimabadali

Pergolas are a popular patio shade idea that can fit into a variety of backyard aesthetics. The slatted roof allows sunlight to pass through, but still provides partial shade to help keep you comfortable beneath it. For extra coverage, try draping cloth from the top, or hanging curtains from the side. Once built, your pergola will be a permanent fixture in your backyard that can last for years with proper maintenance. Pergolas cost about $4,000 to build, on average, but can be set up for as low $1,300 depending on the style and size you choose.

Unroll a Retractable Awning

Outdoor dining set beneath a striped retractable awning. Photo by Instagram user @mmawning.

Photo via @mmawning

Investing in a retractable awning is great for those who spend a lot of time outdoors. Retractable awnings hang over your backyard patio and can be raised or lowered to change the level of shade, keeping your outdoor living space comfortable at any time of day. This patio shade solution typically ranges in price from $800 to $4,000, depending on factors like material and whether the awnings are manual or motorized. Once installed, you can enjoy the outdoors comfortably at any time of day, whether it’s having breakfast in the shade with your family or lounging around your unique fire pit in the evening with friends.

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Keep Cool with Shade Sails

Shade sails come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes—though triangular shades are the most common. This makes them a convenient backyard shade solution for almost any outdoor decorating style and budget, with options available from about $30 to $400. Triangle patio shade sails are among the most popular style, and the material blocks heat and excessive sunlight. Made of a canvas sheet that can be rolled back using a pulley, this backyard shade idea is a great semi-permanent solution.

Pop Open Some Umbrellas

Umbrellas are a versatile and relatively inexpensive patio shade idea. Umbrellas offer a smaller area of shade, but you can add as many as you need throughout your yard to provide plenty of shaded seating. Table umbrellas attached to outdoor dining sets make a cool and comfortable place for backyard entertainment, while cantilever (or off-set) umbrellas make the perfect shade solution for chilling by the pool or relaxing in the yard.

Install a Retractable Canopy

Retractable canopies are pergola-like structures with a fabric or canvas covering—like outdoor Roman shades—that can be adjusted to your desired level of shade. Interested in trying your hand at a DIY patio shade structure? Build your own retractable canopy to have the benefit of full customizability, compared to buying and setting up a pre-made shade structure. Depending on the size of your canopy, you could easily arrange an entire backyard entertainment space beneath it!

Hang Patio Curtains & Shades

A backyard seating area with a fire pit in the center, beneath a pergola with curtains tied to its corners. Photo by Instagram user @shiplapshanty.

Photo via @shiplapshanty

If your patio has an overhanging roof, attaching curtains or shades is a simple and affordable solution for beating the heat. This backyard shade solution can provide full coverage for west-facing patios in the afternoon and evening, but the shades and curtains can also easily be raised or opened at your leisure. Depending on the material and opacity of your curtains or shades, this patio shade idea can also provide a degree of privacy.

Set Up a Backyard Canopy Tent

Create a year-round indoor-outdoor living space that’s easier to move than a permanent shade structure, and invest in a backyard canopy tent! Pop-up patio canopies come in many sizes and can be easily moved or taken down when not in use. Make your kid-friendly backyard safe and cool with a canopy tent. Take advantage of a smaller tent for a compact, personal haven. Or host backyard parties in comfort and style and invest in a large outdoor living room. Whatever your backyard shade needs, you’re bound to find an outdoor shade option that works for your yard.

Grow Plants on a Trellis

Patio furniture on a wooden deck beneath a trellis covered in a vining plant. Photo by Instagram user @fergusgarber.

Photo via @fergusgarber

Love to landscape? Trellises are a picturesque and eco-friendly backyard shade solution that use plants as a natural canopy to block the sun. Not only do trellises help create shade, but full-sun plants thrive from this direct exposure. Training plants to vine over a trellis may require some planning, but many plants—like clematises and Virginia creepers—will naturally cling to the surface of the trellis. Just make sure the plant life you select is not invasive to your area, since vining plants may spread. The cost of trellises vary, but installation is about $800 on average. 

Plant Shade Trees, Bushes, or Hedges

Another natural backyard shade idea is to simply use tall hedges, bushes, and even fast-growing trees, like cypresses, to block sunlight. Shade-giving landscape ideas like evergreens and hedges also create habitats for birds and other important local wildlife, filter sunlight for shade-seeking plants, and provide a barrier against the elements. Not only is this an eco-friendly backyard shade idea, but it’s also a useful backyard privacy solution. Shade trees can even increase your property value! Moreover, using trees, bushes, and hedges as a backyard shade solution is extremely cost effective compared to other permanent backyard shade solutions like gazebos or pergolas.

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