While sun-seeking is the main purpose of many outdoor living spaces in the upper Midwest, sometimes it’s nice to beat the heat and cool off in the shade. Here are landscape contractors’ tips for creating shade in your Lake Forest, IL, backyard.
Permanent Shade Solutions
Permanent shade structures can add significant value and utility to a landscape. With a properly designed and installed structure, you will no longer have to worry about trying to keep a shaky umbrella upright in a strong wind, hurrying to put up an awning when the skies open up, or hustling to move to a shadier spot when the afternoon sun reaches its peak. When the weather shifts, you can simply move the party under your permanent shade structure and keep the fun going.
A pergola adds both functionality and attractiveness to a landscape. It’ll protect you from the sun with horizontal wood beams or slats that allow sunlight to filter in without being blinding. Pergolas are often used to shelter seating areas or outdoor kitchens.
Gazebos are romantic covered seating areas, and they’re typically octagonal with a pointed roof and open sides. Use outdoor curtains to provide additional shade, privacy, and weather protection. Light-colored outdoor curtain fabric will diffuse sunlight for a soft, intimate atmosphere. For an even cozier look, opt for Bohemian-style tapestries or heavier fabric that blocks more sunlight.
If space doesn’t exist for a stand-alone shade structure, you can achieve a similar effect with a permanent patio roof attached to the house. This provides a beautiful transition from both the indoor and outdoor spaces. For additional shade, add trellises with clinging vines, slat walls, outdoor curtains, or rolling shades.
Extending the outdoor season in Illinois means providing shade in summer and opening up the landscape to catch the sun in cooler seasons. This can be achieved by strategically planting deciduous (leafy) shade trees. Trees have the added benefit of providing natural beauty, a nesting place for birds, and spots for hanging a hammock or swing.
Trellises are free-standing fence-like structures made from a wooden open lattice framework that allows light to filter through from the sides, often through climbing plants like vines or roses. Trellises provide shade from the side, not from overhead, and they can be installed as part of a permanent structure to provide additional shade. They can also be used for vertical gardening, which is perfect for outdoor kitchens where cooks enjoy a selection of fresh herbs at arm’s reach.
Temporary Shade Solutions
Temporary shade solutions work well for yards that don’t have large sun-baked expanses, or for larger gatherings that spill out from permanent shade structures.
Shade sails are triangular, square, or rectangular pieces of heavy-duty outdoor fabric stretched between posts or structures. They can be installed to an existing structure (or post) using carabiner-style clips and tensioners, but unlike permanent shade, they are meant to be removed at the end of the season.
Patio umbrellas provide quick shade for small areas. They may be part of a patio table or be stand-alone to protect seating or lounging areas. Umbrellas with offset poles offer the greatest flexibility for placing the umbrella exactly where it’s most needed.