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Whether it’s global warming or just a run of unseasonably hot summers, it’s nice to be able to enjoy the garden when the opportunity presents itself. However, too much sun in a south facing garden is not a pleasant environment, and that’s even before you’ve had a chance to consider the obvious dangers of exposure to the sun’s UV rays. The problem is even worse for children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups, and even pets.
Some form of sun shading is necessary to be able to enjoy spending time outdoors at home, so you have the option to relax alfresco on your own, in the company of your family or with a garden party for your friends.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to add shade to your outdoor living areas is with sun umbrellas. These come in a wealth of colours, sizes and designs and are widely available from garden centres, home improvement stores and even online. If you’ve got one already, how about getting another one?
Choose from a simple round parasol with a pole that inserts neatly into the centre hole of your patio dining table, or place it alongside your sun lounger as a standalone feature. For greater flexibility and a dash of panache, how about a cantilever umbrella like the one shown below?
Also known as ‘banana parasols’ or ‘offset’ outdoor umbrellas, the design allows you to place the base more out of the way, directing the shade to where you need it most. Made from deceptively strong, powder coated aluminium, many models have a rotating canopy that is either circular or square.
For a more permanent solution, custom made awnings are a tried and tested way to get some shade onto a sunny patio. Choose from stationary or retractable fabric awnings that can be attached directly to your home, or fit sturdy, permanent aluminium awnings for a long-term solution against sun, wind and rain.
Fabric awnings are the most popular solution. Widely available in a huge range of colours, patterns and designs, they can be ordered to complement the style of your home and are made to fit the space exactly. For maximum convenience, retractable awnings such as the ones’ below allow you to choose between more or less shade, or none at all, and their opening mechanism can be manually operated or fully motorised.
Source: Aquarius Blinds
For a thoroughly contemporary look and an effective shading solution that takes its cue from the world of yachting and all things water sports, how about hanging a sun sail over your patio? These large pieces of fabric are often shaped like triangular sails – though they can be square too. Stretched between posts, garden structures or anchored into the external wall of the house, shade sails are able to cover large patios and other outdoor areas.
Easy to install by a competent DIYer, you can now get ready made versions from garden centres, outdoor furniture shops and home improvement stores, while bespoke dimensions and designs will have to be ordered online.
Source: My Vessyl
The pergola originates in Italy; it is a traditional, permanent wooden timber structure with an open roof system. Its first use dates back to the 1640s at the cloister of Trinita dei Monti in Rome. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, pergolas rose in popularity in the UK when garden designers such as Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens started to incorporate them into their landscape designs.
Pergolas are incredibly versatile when it comes to complementing a range of architectural styles, and their installation can hugely enhance the visual appeal of your outdoor living area. What’s more, the design and construction of a pergola can be as simple or ornate as you would like it to be – and there’s one for every budget.
That said, a pergola on its own is more likely to provide broken shade than full shade coverage. However, the structure lends itself to being bedecked with fabric coverings or patio curtains that can be drawn in hot weather to keep the sun out.
What’s more, a pergola really comes into its own when vines and climbers are planted to cover the entire structure, eventually creating a living marquee. Choose abundant florals such as wisteria, honeysuckle, bougainvillea or clematis to provide both dappled shade and fragrance, and add hanging baskets for added lushness. For best shade protection all through the year, evergreen varieties that don’t die back in the winter nor need pruning are your best bet.
This article is part of a series of lifestyle content pieces written for Moving and Improving by Annie Button. Find out what else Annie has been up to over on Twitter: @anniebutton1994 or visit more of Annie's amazing articles in our related blog section.
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