How to Shade Your Backyard: 7 Ways to Block Out the Sun

Mariel Loveland
Written by Mariel Loveland
Updated March 4, 2022
A wooden gazebo at home
Photo: Perry Mastrovito / Image Source / Getty Images

Throwing shade isn’t always a bad thing (especially when you’re not wearing sunscreen)

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It’s no secret that it gets sweltering hot during the summer, especially for homes with paver patios that absorb heat. If you live in a warm climate, you may even be able to fry an egg on your asphalt driveway during the hottest days. That’s one way to have an outdoor kitchen—but realistically, your backyard could probably use a little shade.

Shading your backyard makes your outdoor space more comfortable during the hottest, sunniest days of the year. Plus, it’ll help you avoid a nasty sunburn. Here’s how to add shade to your backyard.

1. Add Patio Umbrellas

Need instant shade? Umbrellas aren’t only for rain. Patio umbrellas are one of the most popular backyard shade ideas for a reason. They’re simple to use, available in many different sizes, and come in a range of colors that match the majority of backyard design ideas.

To get the perfect amount of cover, make sure you purchase an umbrella that’s four to five feet larger than the area you want to shade. Choose a weighted umbrella stand (so it doesn’t blow away) and opt for an umbrella that can pivot to give you a customizable reach.

2. Build a Pergola

A pergola is a shade structure that uses four free-standing pillars to support a roof. It’s meant to shelter a seating area, but it also adds a certain level of sophistication to an outdoor entertainment space. Best of all, it’s a versatile shade solution. You can put one over a deck, a patio, or even a patch of grass in the backyard. There are temporary, pop-up pergolas and permanent structures built into your existing hardscaping.

Regardless, most pergolas are thatched. Make sure you choose an option that comes with a removable vinyl or canvas cover. On the brightest days, it’ll block out much more sun.

3. Try a Gazebo

A gazebo in garden
Photo: gretasplace / Adobe Stock

Similar to a pergola, a gazebo is a shade structure. The difference is that gazebos are usually octagon-shaped and always have a covered roof. In other words, it usually offers quite a bit more shade. 

A gazebo is ideal for reading, napping, relaxing, and dining. It’s basically another outdoor living area, and it also helps elevate the look of your garden. However, the size and quality of your gazebo depends on your budget. The average cost to build a gazebo ranges from $3,100 to $9,400, but prefab options and gazebo kits are the most budget-friendly.

4. Screen Your Porch

Does your backyard get too much sun? Bring in the screens. Transforming your existing porch into a screened-in porch doesn’t only add shade to your backyard. It also creates an outdoor living space you can use for the majority of the year. For a year-round option, add removable glass panels and space heaters. 

The cost of a new screened-in porch is usually anywhere from $2,000 to $2,800, but revamping an old porch is a bit easier on your wallet. Since this project can be considered a home addition depending on the scope, hire a local screen porch builder who can obtain a permit if necessary.

5. Put in a Patio Cover

Say goodbye to the kitschy striped awnings of decades past. The patio cover market has grown leagues in recent years. There are a plethora of different options to help you shade your backyard, including everything from dreamy, collapsible canopies reminiscent of beachside resorts to sleek shade sails.

Like most backyard shade ideas, you can choose a collapsible option as a quick fix. Pop it up during the day, and store it in a shed after the sun goes down. If you’re looking for a seasonal solution, try attaching a shade sail (also known as a shade cloth) to your roof or decking. For something more permanent, choose a retractable patio cover. The average cost of an awning is anywhere from $250 to $3,500, so there’s an option that works for every budget.

6. Build a Roof for Your Deck

If you're wondering how to shade your backyard permanently, look no further than a deck or patio roof. This backyard shade idea is more expensive, but it is one of the most durable solutions. You can DIY this project as long as you have carpenter skills, but if you hire a local deck or porch contractor, the cost to build a deck roof ranges from $3,000 and $10,000. Keep costs down by opting for vinyl or aluminum instead of wood.

7. Install a Privacy Screen

If you don’t have a large backyard space and only need a little shade, a privacy screen is one of the most inexpensive backyard shade ideas. You can pick up a quality option for less than $100. Depending on your outdoor space, try:

  • A stand-up folding screen

  • Bamboo shades

  • Lattice panels

  • Curtains

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