It’s so hot. What can you do on the days when your garden seems like the last place that you want to be? You can make outdoor living more pleasant in the summer months by adding shade to your garden.
1. Add a Patio Awning
A patio awning is a simple solution to adjust the temperature inside or outside your home. Awnings can reduce the amount of air conditioning you need and at the same time, create a more pleasant outdoor living space that is protected from the elements. According to Property 24, “The least expensive models have simple, hand-cranked folding frames while more sophisticated awnings incorporate motorized panels.” If you don’t want to tire yourself out moving the awning up and down in the heat, look for an awning that you can work from indoors with the click of a button.
2. Add a Sun Umbrella Or a Canopy
If there are parts of your garden that you can’t reach with an awning, adding a table with a sun umbrella can provide temporary shade. You can move your table and umbrella around to enjoy different areas of the garden. If you live in a windy climate, make sure that you add weights to your patio umbrella so that it doesn’t take off. According to Ideal Home, if you want to look even more upscale, you can create a moveable canopy from fabric: “A simple fabric canopy creates shade wherever and whenever it is needed, and choosing a bright color and pattern will make it a ‘destination’ in a large garden too.”
3. Grow an Arbor
An arbor is a higher-maintenance garden solution, but it can add beauty and shade to your garden. Add clematis, wisteria, or honeysuckle for a fragrant, bee-filled shade arbor. An arbor should be functional as well as beautiful, so make sure that it is located in an area where you can use it to provide privacy as well as shade.
4. Build a Gazebo
If you need an outdoor space where you can entertain during the wet and dry times of the year, a gazebo could be an excellent choice. It’s a feature of your garden, so make sure that your garden can accommodate a structure like this. If you want to take advantage of the wind, make sure that your gazebo has slats that allow wind to pass through and add aeration to this indoor-outdoor space.
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5. Develop an Outdoor Room
If you like to enjoy the outdoors close to home, an awning or permanent roof structure can turn your patio into an outdoor living space. Cooking in an outdoor kitchen or cooking area can help reduce the heat inside your home.
6. Plant a Tree
Planting a tree is a time-honored tradition for adding shade to your garden. If you choose to plant a tree, consider what kind of environmental conditions it needs to do well, and plant it at a time of year when the tree will get cooler weather and rain and have the opportunity to establish its root system before summer begins. Don’t plant your tree too close to the house: its roots could damage your foundation, and its branches could fall on your roof.
7. Grow in Layers
Trees aren’t the only plants that can provide shade in your garden. As you plant, plan for layers of plants. Plants on the bottom will benefit from the shade provided by a tree and layers of shrubs. If you enjoy planting shade-loving plants like hostas, you may need to plan for multiple layers of plants above them to be sure that they are left cool and shady on those hot summer days.
8. Plan for Succession
When you’re planning to add shade to your garden, remember that your garden will change over time. For instance, you might have very little shade in an area right now, but if you plant a fast-growing tree, that part of your garden will be very shady in a short amount of time. If you plant a shrub that needs to be pruned, know that you’ll be leaving some gaps where the light can shine through. You can also plan to have some fast-growing, tall annuals or perennials to fill in the gaps in the summer. For instance, borage, amaranth, and sunflowers all grow quickly and can fill in gaps in your garden and die back in the fall.
9. Consider the Seasons
When you’re thinking about making more shade in your garden, plan how you can do this on a seasonal basis. You might not want a lot more shade in your garden in the wintertime because you want the natural light to shine through. However, come summer, that natural light leads to a lot of heat in your garden and outside your home. When you’re planning your garden, track where the light is during the summer months and plan to add a deciduous tree or shrub in that location, so that it will lose its leaves and let the light in during the winter months.
10. Plan for the Sun
When you’re planning your garden, watch carefully. Consider how the sun moves around your garden during the year, the season, and even over the course of a day. While many people plan their gardens for color, blooms, and ease of maintenance, when you consciously add light as a factor to be considered, you can plan to have your comfy chair in the shade during the heat of the afternoon, either by adding a shade structure or shade plant or by moving your chair to a place where you can take advantage of the existing shade.