20 Backyard Shade Ideas, From Pergolas to Decorative Foliage

Add a Fabric Awning Over Your Patio

A fabric awning instantly provides shade and has a soft, organic quality to it that feels particularly inviting. As a bonus, it's more cost-effective than building a rugged structure and gives you some flexibility with print and pattern—like this striped version featured in a design by Maestri Studio. Just make sure you opt for a UV-resistant material that'll hold up to the elements and sunshine.

Use an Umbrella at Your Table

Umbrellas are perhaps the simplest way to enjoy some quick shade in any area of your backyard. This one, which is part of a design by K+Co. Living, is nestled into a table to offer a shady respite for all those al fresco meals.

Consider a Loggia

Loggias are an outdoor architectural feature with a rooftop and open sides. Since they're not enclosed, they provide the feeling of being completely outdoors while still enjoying some nice shade. You can outfit yours with cozy seating, an ambiance-enhancing fire pit, and a swinging chair like in this design by Forge & Bow.

Install a Modern, Airy Gazebo

Gazebos come in myriad silhouettes ranging from classic round designs with a pitched roof to modern variations like this one utilized in a backyard design by Nievera Williams. The unexpected design adds instant intrigue to the space while still serving the functional role of offering a cool respite from the sun's blazing rays.

Buy an Egg-Style Outdoor Chaise

Another simple way to get some quick relief from the sun is to incorporate a large "egg chair" into your backyard. These shady lounge areas come in all shapes and sizes—some even fit multiple people like this one—and are perfect for tucking away with some cold iced tea and a good book.

Use Curtains for Soft Texture and Extra Shade

Outdoor curtains lend some privacy while providing a bit of shade when the sun angles in at sunrise and sunset. They're easy to install, cost-effective, and—as you can see in this design by B.E. Decors Interiors and Serenbe—the soft, organic texture can help romanticize any outdoor space.

Plant Fast-Growing Shade Trees

For all-over shade, look no further than Mother Nature herself and plant some fast-growing shade trees. These can help save on energy bills if they tower over your home, and you can even use them to hang hammocks, swings, or beautiful solar lights that flicker on at dusk.

Keep It Earthy With Reed Mats

Reed mats provide a similar feel to a traditional pergola, only they offer just a bit more shade and lend a rugged, earthy aesthetic. Simply attach them to an open structure with sturdy twine or zip ties and enjoy your new spot of backyard shade.

Add Shade Via Corrugated Aluminum

If earthy reed mats don't align with your taste, consider corrugated aluminum instead. This wallet-friendly, durable option is simple to install over a wood structure and provides instant shade.

Place a Retractable Cable Shade On Your Deck or Patio

Retractable cable shades are a brilliant option for those who want more versatility in their outdoor space. Pull them out when you want to shield yourself from those strong midday rays, and then tuck them away as needed.

Build Your Own Backyard Cabana

Channel a luxe resort vibe in your very own backyard by incorporating a covered cabana into the landscaping design, as done here by The Layered House. Complete the look with a few different places to sit or lounge, a fire pit, and a cool light fixture.

Hang a Brightly Colored Sun Shade

If you're seeking a temporary and cost-effective backyard shade idea, a fabric triangular sun shade is the way to go. It's simple to install—making it great for renters and owners alike—and the smaller size makes it particularly nice for tiny spaces.

Build a Covered Patio Extension

If you already have a nice patio space, sometimes the simplest way to get more shade is to build a covered structure on top of the existing layout. From here, you can add seating, a bar, or even a grilling station.

Plant Foliage for Privacy and Shade

Along with lofty trees that provide shade from above, consider planting some tall-growing foliage along your side yard to provide shade during different parts of the day. Here, designer Lindye Galloway opted for vertical shrubs and strategically placed lounge chairs to capture the shade they provide.

Opt for a Period-Appropriate Pergola

If you like the idea of a pergola but aren't quite sure about the modern look they may create, know that you've got options. Here, Ashby Collective opted for a Victorian-era design for a pergola that overlooks the English garden of this 100-year-old home in Houston.

Build a Beautiful Wooden Pergola

A pergola is a classic go-to option for some nice shade, and you can make them as large or small as you desire. Typically made from wood, these structures have slatted rooftops that allow for breezy ventilation and offer a nice middle ground between shade and sun.

Add Matching Umbrellas Next to the Pool

Umbrellas don't have to come in singles. Sometimes more is more, as demonstrated in this chic backyard design by Daley Home. The designer took inspiration from a classic resort aesthetic by incorporating multiple matching canopy-esque umbrellas along the pool's edge. The result? Shade for all!

Build a Partially Enclosed Deck

Whether you live in a rustic and rural environment like this one, or happily live in the suburbs, a partially enclosed deck will quickly become your outdoor oasis. The rooftop provides shade, while the enclosed aspect creates a defined space that feels like a livable extension of your home.

Let Ivy Provide Some Relief From the Sun

Shade trees and tall shrubs lend a natural source of shade, and you can add vining ivy to that list, as well. You can train these climbing plants to weave through structures, including pergolas, for an organic and earthy aesthetic.

Extend Your Roofline

Build off of what already exists and extend your roofline just a bit. This is created for short decks and small spaces where just a bit of additional shade can make all the difference. To customize the space further, incorporate bistro lights or fun light fixtures, and of course, enough seating for friends and family to linger.

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