Your patio isn’t finished the moment you buy an outdoor furniture set or invested in cute décor. It isn’t finished once you’ve stocked up on pretty patio plants or landscaped your yard. And it isn’t even finished when you’ve hung an outdoor chandelier, splurged on an outdoor fireplace, or built a really great outdoor bar.
Why? The sun beats down on your patio, and it beats down on you when you’re on your patio. So your space isn’t complete until you’ve dreamt up some patio shade ideas—and executed at least one of them.
Thankfully, patio shade ideas abound, so you won’t have to do much inventing. Instead, you can sift through the existing inspiration in search of an option that suits the size and style of your patio. Your future self will thank you next time the sun scorches your skin, the light overwhelms your eyes, or when you find yourself craving a little bit of shade.
Invest in a Portable Umbrella
One of the simplest ways to add shade to your patio? Snag a portable umbrella. The outdoor-friendly find won’t cover your whole patio, but it will create a welcome patch of shade wherever you put it. And since umbrellas are easy to move around, you can direct that shade wherever you need it most.
Put Up a Pergola
Go all in on patio shade by putting up a pergola. Pergolas are outdoor structures with rectangular roofs and open walls, so they provide lots of shade without blocking the breeze. This makes them ideal for outdoor lounging. And since pergolas anchor into the ground, they’re a low-maintenance alternative to built-in overhangs and balconies.
Keep It Simple With a Sun Shade Sail
Sun shade sails are lightweight canopies you can put anywhere, and they’re one of the most adaptable shade solutions around. Unlike traditional outdoor canopies, which stand on metal legs, sun shade sails hang from poles and trees. So you can tie one up over your patio and adjust it until you get your shade set up just right.
Craft a Covered Bar
Instead of covering your whole patio, cover the parts you’re most likely to use. If your outdoor bar has become a hangout spot, tuck it underneath a wood-paneled overhang. The shade will protect your outdoor bar—and make your favorite warm-weather drinks even more refreshing.
Hang Some Outdoor Curtains
Curtains are an underrated way to make your patio shadier. Sure, they won’t block out any overhead light. But plenty of light streams through the sides of your patio. And by extending or retracting your curtains, you can block out as much of that light as you want to.
Piece Together a Pretty Arbor
Arbors are small arches or pergolas that usually live in gardens. But one would look great on your patio. The arbor itself won’t add that much shade to your space. But if you line it with lush trees and flowering vines, you can create a shady haven that looks straight out of a fairytale.
Stick an Awning on Your Home
Awnings aren’t just for boutiques and restaurants. The canvas roofs look just as good hanging from houses—and they’re great at shielding patios from the sun. So snag an option you love looking at, and let it add style and shade to your patio.
Build a Balcony That Doubles as an Overhang
The beautiful thing about balconies? They double as patio overhangs, giving you more patio shade and another outdoor space to enjoy. Build the balcony you’ve been dreaming of, and take advantage of your newfound ceiling.
In addition to keeping things shady, the overhang provides a perfect place for outdoor fans and light fixtures.
Let in Some Light With a Lattice Pergola
Lattice pergolas offer the best of both worlds. They provide enough shade to soften the sun’s intensity. But since they’re lined with holes, they let in lots of dappled light. This makes them a great alternative to some of the shadier options on offer. Plus, the striking latticework is sure to make a statement on your patio.
Make the Most of Your Trees
It may sound basic, but trees are really great at providing shade. So take advantage of the trees you already have by tucking patio furniture underneath them. And plant a few new trees to grow your shade set-up over time.
Stock Up on Sleek Sun Shades
Sun shades are a lot like sun shade sails. But they’re smaller and rounder, and they come mounted on a stand-up base. Since they’re so small, the sleek shades won’t shield your whole patio. But they’ll provide enough shade for one. So stick the sun shade next to your favorite patio lounge spot, and position it to cast a shadow right over you.
Keep It Classic With a Convertible Canopy
Outdoor canopies are a classic way to cool off your patio. They’re easy to set up, great at providing shade, and often, pretty good-looking. And if you snag a convertible option, you can control exactly how much sun you’re letting on your patio. Just retract the roof when you want some sunlight, and extend it when you’re craving shade.
Turn Your Garage Into a Hangout Space
Your garage is a naturally shady space. And if yours is next to your patio, let the two spaces blur together. Convert your garage into a hangout space, and leave your garage door open.
Your garage can double as a covered patio, while your patio remains the sun-filled space it already is.
Build Your Very Own Atrium
If you want shade that doesn’t interrupt your overhead view, build an atrium. The skylight-lined overhang will protect you from the sun, while letting in plenty of light—and giving you an excellent view of the sky.
Snag a Table With a Built-in Umbrella
When stocking up on patio furniture, look for a table with a built-in umbrella. The shady add-on will keep you comfortable every time you sit down for a meal. And you can always close it if you decide you want some light.
Spring for a Slatted Overhang
Slatted overhangs aren’t as shady as solid ones. But they look incredible, and they’re a great way to split the difference between light and shade. So if there’s a portion of your patio that could use a little shade—but that you don’t want to darken completely—throw a slatted overhang over it, and complement it with a matching slatted fence.
Drape Reed Mats Over Your Pergola
If your pergola isn’t giving you as much shade as you thought it would, make your own convertible canopy and drape it over your pergola. You can get the job done with performance canvas, or you can use a few reed mats to add style and texture to your space.
Turn Your Patio Into a Loggia
One of the most luxurious ways to make your patio shadier? Turn it into a loggia. A loggia is a covered outdoor space that attaches to your home. So it’s basically a patio that’s topped with an overhang and surrounded by support columns.
What’s nice? Loggias are pretty sheltered, so you can safely fill yours with cozy furniture, TVs, fireplaces, and more—treating it like a second living room.
Transform Your Patio With a Straw Roof
If you want your patio to feel like a getaway, ditch the traditional shade solutions—and snag a straw roof, instead. Build a palm gazebo, score a straw umbrella, or stick a thatched roof on top of your pergola. The textured touch will transform your patio, making you feel like you’re on vacation every time you step outside.