Lawn & Garden Outdoor Living

10 Smart Ways to Bring Shade to Your Outdoor Space

Enjoy your yard without overheating when you implement any of these patio shade ideas.

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How to Cool Off the Backyard

Outdoor areas don’t have to be all about soaking in the sun. Sometimes it’s nice to relax in a shady spot, shielded from the harsh rays. There are many ways to bring shade to an outdoor space. You can build a new freestanding structure or enhance an existing patio or pergola through the addition of a shade screen. Many such screens are made from fabric or canvas, but even materials like lattice and bamboo are popular options that cast delicately dappled light onto the outdoor living space beneath or behind. Best of all, there’s no need to call in a contractor; most of these projects are simple enough for the average homeowner to complete easily and quickly, often within the space of a single weekend. So check out our gallery to see a selection of yard improvements that will have you made in the shade.

Set Up a Shade Sail

A sail shade is among the easiest sun-blockers you can make. All it takes is a triangular-cut piece of fabric with eyelets punched in the corners. Use strong twine or rope to attach the shade to poles, the side of the house, or nearby trees. If you prefer to buy instead of DIY, see our recommendations for the best shade sail, like this triangular option from Shade&Beyond on Amazon.

Try a Tiki Roof

Zillow Digs home in Bonsall, CA

Add a little island flair to your backyard with a tiki thatched roof. The tropical awning creates vacation vibes right out your back door.

Screen Your Space

Zillow Digs home in Palm Springs, CA

Motorized retractable awnings run hundreds of dollars, if not thousands. If splurging on this amenity isn’t in the cards, opt for a rolling shade that you can easily adjust yourself (like this E&K Sunrise roll-up shade).

Build a Pergola

A classic pergola keeps things shady without completely blocking the sun. The thin wood slates let the rays poke through so you feel the warmth of the sun without it beating down on you. (And if you want to hang a projection screen from it, you can! See these top picks for outdoor projection screens.)

…or Put Up a Partial Pergola

Just because you’re seeking some shade in your backyard, doesn’t mean you want your entire patio covered. This DIY from The Created Home shades just a corner of the yard or patio and creates a romantic setting for some mood lighting—and it’s budget friendly.

Related: 12 Big Ideas for Small Backyards

Grow a Canopy of Vines

Zillow Digs home in Del Mar, CA

A lattice canopy with verdant vines makes a beautiful addition to any yard. You get the shade you’re looking for with the added bonus of vibrant greenery all around.

String Up Outdoor Curtains

For more shade than a pergola alone can provide, consider outdoor curtains to add a little shade to your pergola. Kate, from Centsational Style, shares an easy DIY using canvas tarps for sturdy shades. Simple, affordable, and still attractive—just what everyone wants! Alternatively, you can string up a weatherproof curtain or two like this NICETOWN panel from Amazon.

Construct a Custom Canopy

Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Build a private oasis in your backyard. This DIY canopy awning offers protection from the sun, and privacy from the neighbors. You don’t even need a whole weekend to build this outdoor escape.

Craft a Privacy Screen Without Wood

Homemade By Carmona made this privacy shade using little more than copper pipes and fittings. The space-friendly canopy is great for anyone with a smaller yard or deck and is a good project for DIY newbie.

Stand an Extra Large Umbrella

Seek out an extra-large patio umbrella. A normal size umbrella is fine, but a bigger one like this double-sided one from PHI VILLA will keep you covered no matter where the sun is in the sky. For more options, check out our full list of patio umbrella recommendations.