How to Shade Your Patio

It’s cool to be cool! Shading your patio is an important part of creating a relaxing oasis in your backyard. After all, the temperature difference in the shade vs. direct sun in Northern Virginia can be up to 10-20 degrees in the summer. That’s nothing to squint at!

Not only does shade shield you from the sun and heat, food can stay out longer when you are entertaining and your outdoor furniture is protected and lasts longer. And if your shade is a permanent structure like a covered porch, you can increase property value by extending your living space, bring energy costs down by reducing heat transfer to your interior and make sure you don’t have to bring the party inside if it starts to rain.

There are so many creative ways to make your patio a welcoming, shady retreat. …Like a loggia. Never heard of a loggia? Read on!

Patio Shade Ideas

It’s OK to throw some shade when it comes to your patio. Depending on your budget, patio size and level of commitment, here are some ideas on how to keep it cool when it gets hot.

DIY Shade Ideas


Easy. Cheap. Moveable. Umbrellas are a great option to provide shade to your patio for specific functions such as shading your table or lounge chairs. They are also a non-committal and fun way to add pops of color to your backyard.

Shade sails

A shade sail is a modern and inexpensive shade option. Like umbrellas, you can add color and personality to your space and the durable fabric protects against UV rays. But with a shade sail you can cover a lot more area. Try overlapping a few for extra protection.


Mother Nature’s shade since the beginning of time! If you have trees in your backyard, keep them! If not, no worries. There are many fast-growing varieties that will not only provide shade but privacy too.

Vine roof or trellis

Have an existing structure that just doesn’t provide enough shade? Install a trellis or beam system and plant easy-to-grow vine plants like wisteria, Virginia creeper, English ivy, climbing hydrangea or trumpet vine.

Retractable awning

A retractable awning is a good choice because of just that – it’s retractable. Only open the awning when you need it. Most are very easy to install and you can choose motorized or hand operated.

Prefab pergola

Although you’ll be limited in your design choices, a pre-made pergola kit could be the shade option your wallet is looking for. Be aware that you need to be a bit handy and have some helpers as the assembly isn’t for the faint of heart.

Covered furniture

Sometimes your patio just needs a little shaded spot to read or sip a cool drink. Consider a day bed with a fabric cover or even just a swinging bench with a roof.

Permanent Shade Structures

Covered porch

A covered porch is a wonderful way to add some all-weather fun to your backyard. Rain or shine you are protected from the elements in this cozy space that is attached to at least one wall of your home.


We told you we’d get to what a loggia is! Loggia is the Italian word for a shallow, attached covered space that runs along the side of a house. It is more grand than a simple porch as it usually has architectural columns and arches. It makes an elegant statement in your backyard.


A pergola is a free-standing structure with open walls and a grid of beams on top that provides partial shade. You can add fabric, thatching or even frosted plexiglass for even more shade if you’d like.


Quaint, timeless and not-too-big, gazebos can be placed almost anywhere in your backyard. They are open on all sides but have a closed roof.


Cabanas are usually seen near a pool, but they don’t have to be! They can be a simple place to hang in the shade or something more grandiose with a kitchen, bathroom, changing room and storage.


Like a porch, an overhang is a structure that “hangs” off your home. It has a simple awning and two posts to support it. It provides great shade and keeps the interior room cooler as well.

Elevated deck

Adding a deck to an upper level of your home can serve two purposes – a great dining/hangout space off your second floor and a shaded space underneath it on your patio. Win win!

Palapa or tiki bar

Looking to make your backyard feel like you are on vacation? Why not put in a palapa or tiki bar? These thatched-roof structures have lots of personality and seem to say, “Let’s get this party started.”

Side awning or fence

Sometimes all you need is shade from the morning or late afternoon sun in a particular area of your patio. A vertical structure like a side awning or tall fence may do the trick.

Patio Shade Accessories

Now that you have structures that provide shade to your patio, why not accessorize them? Use the height and framework to add:


Most shade options we mentioned above can accommodate string lights or hanging lanterns to create a beautiful ambiance at night. If you go for a more permanent structure, you can install dimmable spotlights on the ceiling as well.


Weather-proof speakers add a musical touch to your patio fun. You can choose portable or permanent options to make sure you always have tunes.


Curtains can add privacy and intimacy to an outdoor shaded area, not to mention provide even more sun and heat protection. Adding mosquito netting can also insure your patio stays pest-free.


Adding patio heaters or an outdoor fireplace can extend the time you can spend on your patio into the fall and allow you to start earlier in the spring. However, most heating options are reserved for permanent shade structures.


Lastly, customize your shady oasis with decor. Add hanging plants, wind chimes or wall art to finish your patio and make it truly yours.

Patio Design and Installation in Northern Virginia

When it comes to a well-planned, functional, shaded patio, Outdoor Spaces has you covered. Literally! Our expert designers will evaluate your patio’s sun exposure at various times of the day and for each season of the year. Call us for a free consultation and estimate: 703-771-1550