Beat the Heat with These Four Outdoor Shade Solutions

Basking in the sun's rays is a universal past-time and countless hours are spent soaking up the warm days of summer. However, when temperatures reach record highs, exposing yourself to the sun can quickly become too much of a good thing. Most times, we retreat indoors to the relief of an air-conditioned room. But don't sweat it. Here we outline four shade solutions that will have you made in the shade.

1. Patio Umbrellas

The patio umbrella is the first thing that comes to mind when looking for summer shade solutions. If you choose to go with this fixture, the actual umbrella needs to be at least 5" larger than the spot that needs shading. Choosing which type of umbrella depends on how you plan to use it and the size of your outdoor space. The advantage of umbrellas is their mobility, but this can also be their downfall. Larger umbrellas could prove difficult to move, especially the cantilever type which relies on a heavy base to hold down its larger frame. Umbrellas can be moved to block the sun, but this can become a nuisance if furniture has to be re-arranged to accommodate the 'moving umbrella'.

2. Patio Covers

Patio covers function as an extension of the home roof. Typically, these kits are assembled and attached to the exterior of your home with relative ease. In most cases, aesthetic integration of the kits may prove difficult as the underlying intent is practicality. This roof type is usually a solid panel of aluminum fiber-glass or PVC, supported by posts opposite the home's exterior wall. Unfortunately, the patio cover remains stationary after installation. The roof is a permanent shelter unable to open or close, dictating how you choose to spend your sunny afternoons. Over time, depending on the type of climate and weather conditions, this product can become privy to shifting, resulting in potential repairs and costs in the future.

3. Pergolas

The pergola is a traditional shade solution that homeowners use to distinguish their outdoor living rooms with style and elegance. The pergola is a large, immobile structure that provides partial shade from divided rafters found on the roof. The pergola comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and can also be accessorized with lighting, curtains and heaters. The structure is affixed into the ground beneath it or attached to the home, whether it be an existing patio, deck or grass, ensuring the pergola remains structurally sound. Depending on your personal tastes, this has a variety of styles with the three most popular being the Tuscan, Grecian and Modern.

As homeowners look to turn their outdoor space into liveable, functioning rooms, this type of outdoor shade solution has gained greater interest over the last few years. This has been made all the more possible in recent years with advances in retractable canopies.

Retractable canopies allow the homeowner to have the best of both worlds. When the heat becomes unbearable, or an unexpected downpour rains you out, the canopy can be retracted with ease. In the past, canopies usually ran along a two-track system. However, this pales in comparison to the new, innovative one-track system. The retractable canopy is quickly gaining traction as a must have for outdoor living. Its sleek design and clever functionality only serve to further enhance any outdoor room, making the pergola and retractable canopy combination one of the best shade solutions out there.

4. Eco-Shade

The first form of shade came naturally from surrounding trees and greenery. In many outdoor living areas, especially those with an in-house green thumb, this is the most rewarding of all the shade solutions. Natural shade can help harness a cooling effect with eco-friendly flair and landscaping beauty. There are different forms of vegetation and plants that can be used to create shade. The most popular and quickest method is to nurture shade vines over free standing structures, such as pergolas. Trees are perhaps the most beautiful form of shade, but they can be expensive and take time to mature. When buying plants to provide shade, keep the regional climate in mind. Some of the best vines are 'bougainvillea' and 'royal trumpet', in regards to trees, the class examples of 'elm' and 'maple' serve this purpose well.

Having it Made in the Shade

In order to make sure you get the most out of your outdoor space, choosing any of these functional shade solutions is absolutely necessary. All of the products mentioned above are capable of providing shade to some degree. Depending on the type of space you are working with, it could be possible to use a combination of one or two different ideas. Before deciding on anything, think about how you want to utilize the space and base your decisions on how you perceive the various ways your outdoor area will function. Choose one that works well for you, both in style and function.

Let us know what you think or if you have any other shade solutions you would like to share.

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