5 Ways to Get made in the Shade

Don't Get Burned this Summer

In the summertime, most of us look forward to spending as many hours as possible basking in the season's good weather. Picnics, pool parties and backyard barbeques are among the joys of summer, but too much time in the sun spells bad news. Sun exposure ages your outdoor furniture, not to mention your skin. It doesn't take long for a few hours in the sun to translate into a nasty sunburn or worse, heatstroke.

If sun exposure is preventing you from celebrating the best part of the year, think about incorporating some shade into your outdoor space. The possibilities are endless and don't have to be ugly or expensive. In addition to providing an escape from the sun, pergolas, awnings and canopies can add some flair to your backyard, so consider this an opportunity to redecorate and have some fun.

  1. Pergolas
    Reminiscent of an English garden, a pergola can provide your outdoor space with shade and a touch of class. Pre-fabricated pergolas are available at home improvement stores for about $600 and up and some models even claim that no tools are needed for assembly. (But where's the fun in that?) Super-skilled Janes can simply build their own and then finish it off by painting it the color of their choice, while Janes with a green thumb can tame climbing plants to dress it up.
  2. Retractable Canopies
    These versatile shade-makers can be utilized during the hottest parts of the day and then pulled back by turning a crank or flipping a switch after the sun has set. Fabric is mounted to a framework permanently attached to your home, which can be minimally obtrusive depending on what model you opt for. The best part is that the fabric can be changed easily should it succumb to storm damage, but the framework is harder to mend. If you are in the market for a retractable canopy, shop around a little beforehand and check out consumer reviews. Installing a retractable canopy is something that should be left to a professional.
  3. Canopy Awnings
    A more permanent version of the retractable canopy, these are great for those who want to shun the sun. Like the retractable canopy, the frame is attached to the house, suspending a durable piece of fabric. Again, installing a canopy awning should be left to a professional, especially if the model is on the large side. The difference is that the canopy cannot be easily removed, and should really only come down when the season comes to an end, that is, if you live in a climate with harsh winters. Because it has less moving parts, it's more durable than the retractable canopy.
  4. Portable Canopies
    Portable canopies are popping up everywhere and it's no wonder why: they are attractive, inexpensive and portable. These four-post structures are available at department and home improvement stores with various amenities. (Screens, curtains, and shelves for plants to name a few). It takes more than one person to assemble and raise a durable portable canopy, and once it's up be sure to secure it should heavy winds strike.
  5. Foliage
    The most basic shade-providing structure on the planet is the tree. Not only are you making the backyard more livable during those hot summer days, but you are also doing something for the earth. Magnolias, Elm, Oak and Sycamore are all trees that will provide ample shade, though it will take many years if you are buying them young. Tall tropical plants with large leaves can accomplish the same task; just make sure that your climate zone can handle such flora.

Adding a bit of shade to your backyard is like giving your home an extra room. There you can eat, drink, and entertain all the while protected from harmful UV rays. Good weather isn't around for long, so why not get the most out of it while it's here?

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