As summer approaches, you may want to consider incorporating some shade into your outdoor living space. There are several alternatives depending on the location and amount of shade you need. If you need a respite from the sun in your outdoor dining area, for example, you may simply need a large market umbrella placed near your table. If you need a large block of shade on one or more sides of your home you can have retractable awnings installed. This provides the flexibility of having shade in the summer, yet allows warming light to reach your home in the winter. Retractable awnings can be manually operated or motorized, and the canvas or vinyl shades come in a vast variety of colors and patterns. Benefits of shading your home include energy savings reflected in your air conditioning and heating bill.
Another option is a pergola that can either be attached to your home or freestanding over a patio. If you are the handy type there are do it yourself kits available in teak or vinyl. Or, a landscape designer can help you explore more options. A pergola can be designed to harmonize with your home. Use bamboo for a tropical theme, or rough hewn timbers for the rustic look. It can even have columns for a classic Greek or Italian look.
Once you have created your shade, choose some shade loving plants to enhance and soften your outdoor living space. Small trees such as Japanese maple and camellias and shrubs like rhododendron and hydrangea are good choices, and there are countless perennials, annuals and bulbs that love shade. At the base of your pergola, you can also plant vines such as wisteria or bougainvillea to create additional shade. If you choose a deciduous vine, you will have warmth and light available in the cooler winter months when the vine drops its leaves.
Surely, there is a perfect shade solution for your outdoor living space, and soon you will be enjoying summer afternoons relaxing in your shady spot.