These cover shade ideas will take your garden to the next level. If you live somewhere with strong midday sun (or unexpected midday rain), you need a sturdy shade to use your patio on summer afternoons. Fortunately, there are many options, from inexpensive fabric patio shades to permanent structures, that will help zone your yard and provide you with shade.
Take your patio ideas even further by installing a sunshade idea – you won’t regret the initial investment.
1. Start with a shade sail
If you are unsure of where to start when adding patio shading, or you cannot have a permanent shading structure, an awning should always be your first option. Shade sails are cheap, very easy to install and come in a variety of fabric types, shapes and sizes. Pay attention to those that offer you UV protection.
The sail sun canopy is from Wayfair.
2. Choose a light shade for a ceiling effect
Patio umbrellas don’t have to be white or neutral. If you are looking for a more dramatic look, why not opt for a light colored sail umbrella?
We really like Wayfair’s cobalt blue Yunni parasol – the color harmonises very well with the white color scheme of the rest of the courtyard.
3. Go natural for a softer look
If you prefer a more natural look, then a fabric patio shade may not look quite right. It might be time to explore pergola ideas – pergolas, especially those made from natural wood, look more organic and easily fit into your garden scheme.
This beautiful pergola, designed by Parisian landscape architect Kevin Clare, takes the natural theme even further, using natural branches instead of traditional wooden planks. Simple and romantic.
4. Choose a bistro style awning for a cute European look
Awnings have a lot of advantages when used as sun protection. Most importantly, they’re retractable, meaning you don’t have to be in the shade if you don’t want to.
They are also water-repellent and protect you from rain as well as from sun and UV radiation. Oh, and did we mention they look super cute and remind us of Parisian cafes? The Outsunny retractable patio awning is from Wayfair.
5. Add curtains to create an outdoor feel
Whether your patio shade is a permanent structure (such as a porch) or something lighter like a pergola, you can enhance the shade even more by adding curtains. Front porch ideas especially benefit from beautifully draped curtains, both for privacy, more shade and for the outdoor vibe that is so big these days.
This gorgeous porch in Florida’s Key West was designed by Debra Yates.
6. Invest in a gazebo
Are you ready for something more permanent but can’t add anything to your existing look? Garden pavilions are also worth a look. These structures typically offer much more protection from the elements than a fabric umbrella and are perfect for windy areas.
There are a number of materials to choose from. Wayfair’s Cogswell solid wood patio gazebo is a brilliant option for a country backyard – and you can have it assembled for you.
7. Cover an outdoor kitchen with a full-size fabric shade
When your patio has become an outdoor kitchen or dining area and is in a sunny location, you need to think about protecting you and your guests from the harsh midday sun. A UV certified canvas does the job perfectly – just make sure it covers the entire deck.
This beautiful outdoor kitchen was designed by Bawtree Design.
8. Limited space? Try an umbrella
If your patio is small or you only want to shade a small area, a garden umbrella is the best choice. As with the other sun protection option, the best garden umbrellas offer UV protection and are water resistant.
Some are freestanding while others require a separate stand or need to be inserted into a patio dining table.
9. Or try a semi-pergola design
Do you have a small covered terrace or balcony and aren’t convinced by any of the sun protection options you’ve seen? If you feel that fabric blinds are underpowered but don’t have quite enough room for an entire gazebo or pergola, a half pergola roof extension design can work.
It looks exactly how you imagine it – like a half pergola that starts where your balcony roof ends. It’s best to have this built by a professional to ensure the structure is solid.
10. Choose natural materials for a rustic look
While we’ve seen that decking can look great with all sorts of shading options, if you really want to honor a beautiful wooden deck, it’s best to surround it with other natural materials.
Rattan garden furniture and a wooden pergola are just perfect for patios, no matter the setting. We also really like that a grapevine grows on top of this rustic pergola, adding even more character.
What can be used as sun protection on a budget?
Don’t have a budget for a gazebo or pergola? No problem. Volodymyr Barabakh, Structural Beam co-founder and project leader, recommends retractable canopies: They are “less expensive than pergolas and easier to install than a permanent patio awning.
They eliminate the hassle of adjusting the umbrella as you can easily wind and unwind it to suit your needs. Although people usually hire someone to pay the first installment, this can also be done as a DIY job for anyone with basic carpentry skills.’
What is the best material for sun protection?
According to Barabakh, “You want a slightly translucent, lightweight material that offers shade and UV protection without completely blocking the sun. Opt for a polyester fabric with a vinyl coating as this will protect you from both rain and sun with minimal maintenance.’
When considering a gazebo, Grace Baena, Interiors Curator at Kaiyo, strongly recommends choosing aluminum: “Metal shades are much stronger and more durable—which means they can withstand harsh winters, heavy snowfalls, and high winds. You don’t have to worry about removing them either. Aluminum is rust and corrosion resistant, making it a great choice for those looking for an easy-to-maintain sunshade.”