Looking for some backyard shade ideas? Try these 9 shade solutions for decks that will cool down your yard and get you out of the sweltering sun.
I love to do summer entertaining in my backyard so when I moved into my house with a yard that had absolutely no shade, I knew I had to do something about it. With these shade solutions for decks and some patio decorating ideas, I’m all set to have friends over.
If you have a backyard that has the sun beating down on it then it can be almost impossible to enjoy the summer weather outdoors.
Which is where these backyard shade ideas come in handy.
When I first moved into my house, my backyard was just a flat piece of dirt (and weeds!) with no shade to be found anywhere.
So I have had to put in a number of these backyard shade ideas to make my yard bearable in the summer.
This is the list of backyard shade ideas that I’ve done as well as some that I’m still thinking about adding.
1 | Build A Gazebo
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I have always wanted a gazebo. So when I was building the deck in my backyard, I decided to put one up over part of it as a shade solution.
I built an open air gazebo that doesn’t have a closed-in roof. Partly because it’s less expensive and less work to do this rather than adding a roof.
And partly because I found an awesome hanging basket that I wanted to hang from the middle, and the plants would need some light.
Adding curtains on the sides helps to keep even more of the sun out.
If you want to build something similar, I got the instructions for my gazebo in this book* (from Amazon). It also has instructions for some other structures that are all great shade solutions for decks or patios.
If you want a deck shade structure with a proper roof, DIY gazebo kits* are a good way to go. The metal ones like this end up costing about the same as it would to build a wood one from scratch. And you don’t have to do all the cutting!
2 | Construct A Pergola
Pergolas are another popular idea for deck shade structures. Like my gazebo (which technically could be called a pergola), they are open air and have wood beams across the top that help to break up the sun.
I built one of these over my grill area, and it’s the most popular spot in my backyard when I have parties. Of course, that might be because this is where the food is 🙂
Pergolas are also fairly easy to build since they don’t usually have too many awkward angles to cut. (The instructions for building a standard pergola are also in the book* I mentioned above).
And of course, there are always DIY pergola kits* you can buy if you want to cut down the amount of time it takes to put your deck shade structure together.
3 | Add A Pergola Cover
If you already have a pergola, and just want to add some more shade to it, try one of these pergola covers*.
They come in a few different colors and many different sizes, so it can fit over pretty much any type of pergola.
4 | Make A DIY Outdoor Shade Canopy
Which brings us to the next one of my backyard shade ideas…make a DIY outdoor shade canopy.
How simple is this idea of stretching canvas sheets over the top of some outdoor arches? Jamie Durie (from HGTV) used it in one of his backyard makeovers and I love how easy (and inexpensive) it is to make and install!
If you don’t have a shade structure to drape fabric over, don’t despair! Add some grommets to fabric strips and string them up with a wire. These ones from indecora.com are even retractable.
I have even seen some people making these out of drop cloths which would make it one of the cheap patio cover ideas.
5 | Hang Some Backyard Shade Sails
Shade sails* are one of the backyard shade ideas that I haven’t tried yet.
I have never been too sure about how much shade one triangle sail would provide for my deck or patio.
But then I saw some pictures from shadesails.com and realized you don’t have to use just one. Now they make a lot more sense to me. And they look pretty cool, too!
You can also hang them more loosely if you want a more relaxed feel. This would also make a great pergola shade cover.
6 | Create A DIY Patio Cover
This inexpensive backyard shade option is another one of the DIY patio cover ideas from Jamie Durie at HGTV.
He made frames out of thin wood and stretched fabric across them. Then hung the frames on wires with eye hooks. That way you can slide them back and forth to provide the shade where you want it. Brilliant!
7 | Put Up Umbrellas
The next shade solution for decks is umbrellas. And I’m sure you’re thinking that everyone knows an umbrella can provide some shade.
But like the shade sails, I don’t believe in using just one.
If you want to provide enough shade to be useful, I think you need at least 3 umbrellas (and possibly more depending on the size of your deck or patio).
Umbrellas also have some extra benefits that you don’t get with all of the other options:
- you can mix and match the colors as part of your party decor (like I did for my Mad Hatter tea party).
- some umbrellas have lights* installed in them, making them useful at night as well as during the day. These plug-in kind are great because you know they will always turn on.
- or you can get solar powered umbrellas*. You don’t even have to plug them in to get lights at night (and you’re putting all of that sun to work!)
For free-standing umbrellas that will not fall over, I use these concrete umbrella stands on wheels*. They are very heavy and not all that pretty, but they work really well!
8 | Install Awnings
For a more permanent shade option that covers patios close to the house, awnings work well.
I don’t have experience with these at my house, but I stayed at the Beverley Hills Hilton for a conference a couple of years ago and fell in love with the black and white striped canopies outside their pool rooms.
If I had a place for them, I would install one of these blue and white striped awnings* over the patio in my backyard. They are also retractable so you can let the sun shine in when you want it to.
9 | Grow Some Vines
To provide even more shade, I originally trained some Wisteria to grow over the top of the pergola. Although mine never looked as neat as this one does 🙂
After finding out how hard it is to keep contained (it’s on my invasive plants list), I decided to take it down.
However, it does grow fast enough to cover the top of the pergola and it does provide a lot of shade. So if you have the time to maintain it (or live in an area of the country where it doesn’t grow quite as much), I think it’s a great option.
I will also add that having plants growing over your deck or patio makes for more clean up work since they are always dropping leaves and twigs.
10 | Plant Trees
The last option on the backyard shade ideas list is to plant trees. This is another fairly obvious one and it isn’t a quick fix.
But the trees growing up in my yard have made a big difference in how much shade I have in my backyard.
This deck at the back doesn’t need any kind of man-made shade cover because of the leaves over top. And it’s one of the most comfortable spots in the yard all day long.
If you need some help figuring out what to plant, my list of backyard trees for small yards may be a good place to start.
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This post was originally published on July 26, 2018 but was updated with new content on September 15, 2022.