Garden shade ideas – 5 easy ways to keep you cool and protected from the sun

If you're seeking shelter from the sun here are the most accommodating shade ideas that will suit any garden

compilation of three gardens showing garden shade ideas with parasols, pergolas and planting
(Image credit: Future)

Whether you're a sun worshipper or not, creating shaded spaces in your garden can be more beneficial than you may have guessed. 

No matter what garden trend you embrace, creating areas in your garden where you can escape the sun and enjoy the cool will instantly make the outdoor space more enjoyable. 

Adding shade is an easy way to transform any garden on a budget and can be done in several ways to suit your style.  So if you're craving a little sun respite this summer give one of these easy expert-recommended shading ideas a try to seek shelter from the rays. 

Garden shade ideas: 5 easy ways to create shelter

Whilst you might have always thought that shade is something that just happens, you can create it yourself in way more useful areas in your garden. Similarly to how you might've chosen the best plants for privacy, choosing the best ideas for shade will completely transform your garden and how you enjoy it. 

1. Pergola

pergola in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're wanting to achieve the quiet luxury garden trend, finding a more refined way of creating shade in your space is the way to go. A great choice for this aesthetic is investing in a pergola. 

"Pergolas are a popular choice, providing both structure and flexibility. They can be decorated and personalised with climbing plants such as wisteria or grapevines to create a natural canopy," says Murray Michel, a garden expert at Clear Amber

You can decide what material you want your pergola made of, which gives you some flexibility with budget and aesthetics. 

2. Parasol

Summer garden with a dining table covered with a parasol to provide garden shade

(Image credit: Future | Colin Poole)

Should you want more budget garden ideas, simply adding a parasol to your outdoor space is the way to go. Adding a parasol is a key element for any outdoor living room, it provides that well-needed shade for al fresco dining and mid-day sun breaks. 

"Incorporating a parasol can also offer shade and privacy, providing a stylish solution to obscuring views while enjoying al fresco dining or relaxation. These simple yet effective additions enhance the patio's aesthetics and contribute to a more enjoyable and secluded outdoor experience," says Caron Grant, Brand Manager at luxury furniture brand Bridgman. 

The best thing about parasols is that they're super easy to store through the winter, and are ideal for those looking for small garden tips

3. Awnings

collage of two garden patio areas with awnings as a garden shade idea

(Image credit: Future)

It can be hard to find room for more furniture, whether that's a parasol or a pergola when your garden is already tight on space. Utilising wall space is a smart way of getting around this, and what better way to use your wall space than with an awning?

"The awning is the standard solution for outdoor shading. For this, you’ll simply need to fix an awning on the side of your house, " explains Radek Babicek, a gardening specialist at Fantastic Gardeners. "They’re perfect for creating shade in an area where you spend a lot of time, like a patio, and they come in many different sizes and colours that can suit the space you have and your preferences." 

Another great thing about awnings is that they're easily retractable, so you can welcome the sun back when you're ready to resume sunbathing. Incidentally, awnings are one of the best ways to cool down a room without AC because you prevent the direct sun from heating the room through the window.

4. Trees and shrubs

compilation image showing two gardens with shade being provided by small trees, shrubs and climbing plants

(Image credit: Future)

Creating shade can also be done in a more natural way and if you're after sustainable garden ideas this option might be right up your street. 

"Climbers and shrubs are a great choice for creating a shady area and a beautiful lived-in look and feel, " says Sarah Raven, a professional gardener and author. "Trachelopspermum is a striking evergreen climber that works as a standout screen effect, while Clematis Armandii 'Snowdrift' is another great choice for sheltering from the sun."

"Its star-shaped flowers and sweetly scented, cream-coloured petals create the most wonderful, shaded spot for when the heat is too much," continues Sarah, as well as making the garden smell nice

headshot of garden expert Sarah Raven holding flowers
Sarah Raven

Since the publication of her first book, The Cutting Garden, Sarah has led the way in introducing a new kind of productive gardening. Her aim is to create intense colour and beauty, combined with a practical and easy-to-achieve approach. Her popular gardening podcast Grow, Cook, Eat, Arrange has achieved 4.1 million downloads. She’s published 15 books and runs

5. Drapes and curtains

curtains on a gazebo in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might be taken by surprise with this one, but incorporating soft furnishings like curtains or drapes into your garden can be a great way of adding temporary shade to various areas. It can also be a fun way of transforming your garden on a budget.

"One effective way to achieve this is by adding drapes or other materials to create a more intimate dining area," says Caron. "By strategically hanging curtains or lightweight fabrics, homeowners can not only block out unwanted views but also enhance the ambience of their outdoor space."

These curtains can be attached to a pergola, a gazebo or even strung up between trees in your garden like you would a hammock. 

Of course, it may be difficult to maintain fabrics outdoors so you may want to opt for a material that can be easily washed and dried. Like when cleaning outdoor cushions or cleaning an outdoor rug, you need to take due care.


What are the benefits of having shaded areas in your garden?

Still unsure whether you need more shaded spots in your garden? There are quite a few benefits to having these designated spaces, from protecting your skin to protecting your alluring plants

Tom Clifford, a gardening expert from Gardenstone explains, "Shaded gardens have better soil moisture retention which is beneficial for the health of plants and lawns. The majority of plants will wilt and burn when left in direct sunlight and therefore require more effort to maintain." 

Plants that are placed in the sun will often require more watering which means an added job on your gardening to-do list to know how to water your garden plants and when. Aside from this, it's also a good idea to have shaded spots if you have pets. 

"Areas of shade are essential if you own pets as they require an area outside to relax in that isn't directly in the sun. Dogs and cats can overheat easily which can cause them to collapse and may risk a trip to the vet," says Tom. 

If you're worried about making a little too much shade, perhaps your plants prefer the sun more than you do, so why not choose tougher plants that thrive in the tough places in your garden? 

Emily Smith
Digital lifestyle writer

Emily joined woman&home as a staff writer after finishing her MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2023. After writing various health and news content, she now specialises in lifestyle and home writing where she covers all things cleaning, interiors and homeowning.