Creative Ways to Shade a Patio


A patio is an extension of your home, where you can entertain family and friends and enjoy the fresh air. Unless your patio is shaded, though, spending time there in the direct sunlight can be hot and uncomfortable. With some creativity, you can shade your patio and make it a welcome respite.

Hang a Shade Sail

  • Shade sails are heavy, triangular pieces of fabric stretched atop a patio between poles or trees. They come in many colors and most have a UV coating and sealant to make them resistant to sun damage. Create a whimsical environment by choosing a shade sail with a vibrant pattern and color. For a more luxurious outdoor space, choose a deeper toned shade that coordinates with your patio furniture. You can buy pre-made shade sails and poles, or you can save money by making your own shade sail.

    Select a heavy shade cloth fabric made specifically for use outdoors. You can find this at fabric stores and some outdoor stores. You'll need to measure the space where you'll hang the cloth. Since shade sails are designed to be stretched taut, you won't need a lot of extra cloth. Create edging by sewing a contrasting strip of fabric at the hem. Attach grommets yourself or ask your hardware store to do this for you.

Paint a Lattice

  • Using inexpensive garden lattice provides a creative way to add a personal, artistic touch to your patio. Use exterior, weather-proof paint for this project. Make a fun patio cover by painting lattice sky blue and adding white clouds, or use vibrant colors to create a rainbow. The possibilities are limitless. Measure the space you intend to cover and ask a home improvement store to trim premade lattices, or put two or more together using galvanized wire. Andrew D'Amato, co-owner of Andrews Painting in Milton, MA, says painting a lattice is easy if you use a high-volume, low-pressure sprayer to paint the surface. You can then add details using a brush once the base coat is dry. Garden lattice will provide a fair amount of dappled shade.

Create an Arbor

  • While not instantaneous, a living garden arbor is a wonderful way to shade a patio. Buy a premade arched trellis and some type of fast-growing fragrant vine, such jasmine or honeysuckle. A non-fragrant option is bougainvillea. Purchase plants in 5-gallon buckets for the quickest route to mature growth. Plant one or two vines in large, decorative ceramic pots and place them on either side of the arbor. Intertwine any lose vines into the trellis so the plant will climb as it grows. Talk to the expert at your garden center to help you select the right plants for your climate and needs.


  • The shade projects listed here will not provide shelter from rain. Shade sails treated with a UV coating will keep harmful rays off your family and guests, but be aware that lattices and arbors will allow UV rays to peek through open areas.

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