6 Ways to Create Backyard Shade

Shield yourself from harsh rays as warm weather comes back to Virginia

There’s nothing like relaxing in the shade on a hot, sunny day. Whether it’s beneath an outdoor structure like an arbor, pergola or covered patio, or something more flexible like an umbrella or awning, there are many ways to create shade in your backyard.

Not only will adding shade enhance your outdoor comfort, certain structures can add value to your home, offer energy savings, add privacy and serve as an aesthetically-pleasing part of your landscape’s overall design.

Stay out of the sun with these six ways to add shade to your space.

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Pavilions — large, roofed structures that aren’t typically screened in — shine as a natural part of your landscape. You can build them over outdoor kitchens, near pools, or simply to provide seating and dining space. As an added bonus, pavilions don’t block views or conversation between people in various areas on your property.


Gazebos offer a more intimate, enclosed space. Traditional octagonal-shaped gazebos are perfect for out-of-the-way corners of decks or areas of your yard. Gazebos can range from romantic and formal designs with scrolled details to modern structures that break from the octagonal shape and are square or rectangular.

Shingled roofs with lattice paneled sides protect from rain and sun but allow gentle breezes to blow through. Screened-in gazebos can do the same, while also keeping out pests. This type of gazebo might work well next to a pond or water feature, for instance.



Similar to a pavilion but with a more open and airy feel, one of the perks of a pergola is that you get some coverage but still let in light, creating a dappled shade effect. As an eye-catching and functional option to achieve either partial or full shade, exterior pergola structures come in many shapes, sizes and materials to suit your individual needs. They generally have a flat roof supported by four posts with an open framework on the sides.

Use a pergola over a deck to filter out sunlight if there are no shade trees nearby, or add a point of architectural interest to your grilling space. With posts to support greenery, pergolas combine function and beauty, housing vines or hanging plants that add to your landscape’s appeal. String lights are another popular addition to pergolas.

Canopy or Awning

Transform a sunny deck into a shaded space by anchoring a fabric canopy to deck railings or installing a retractable awning that can be attached to your home. Choose fade-resistant fabric to keep your awning or canopy looking fresh long-term. Along with offering a cooler shelter in the summer, these fabric solutions can improve the energy efficiency of your home by shading windows and glass doors to reduce the amount of solar heat your home absorbs.

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Screened-In Porch

The right screened-in porch design can keep insects and sun out, while letting outdoor ambiance in. Enhancements like lighting, fans, fireplaces, televisions and heaters can be added to a screened-in porch to provide all the entertainment options you need mixed with all-season comfort.

Patio Umbrella

The fastest, easiest way to add a spot of shade to a dining or sitting area is the standard deck and patio go-to, a simple umbrella. Look for an outdoor dining table that includes an insert for a patio umbrella, or use a large cantilever umbrella to provide shade over a sitting area without blocking views. Available in a variety of sizes, colors and materials, umbrellas provide quick coverage and can be easily folded when not in use.

Looking for expert advice on the best options for shade in your backyard? Learn more about our custom landscape structures here, or contact our design experts to discuss options that suit your unique needs.