Outdoors
Outdoors
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3 Ways to Add Shade to
Your Outdoor Spaces
Consider installing a shade sail, a patio umbrella, or a gazebo with curtains
By Scott Bish
Warmer weather means more reasons to get outdoors and enjoy your own private slice of nature.
But sunny days can often bring more UV and heat exposure. Adding sturdy, visually appealing shade elements to your patio, yard, or deck will keep you and your family safe and comfortable when you spend time outside.

First, consider where you’d like your shaded area to be located, such as the seating area on a deck or patio, over a pool or play area, or wherever people tend to gather. Once the location is selected, use these tips and solutions to choose the right shade structure for your outdoor setup.

Image of Outdoor Patio
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1
Put up a Shade Sail
Image of Backyard Patio
Shade sails are popular structural awnings made of heavy-duty, weatherproof material that can bring an artistic flair to your setting. Before installing one, decide on the right location based on:
  1. Size of the shade sail or sails you’ll need in proportion to the area you’ll be installing it in. You’ll want the sail to fit the space.
  1. Strength of the structures that will be used as your anchor points. Consider attaching the sail to your home’s exterior, wooden patio posts, or nearby grown trees. Don’t attach the sail to less sturdy items like gutters. The best attachment points are those that will stand up to wear and tear and the stress of wind and storms.
  1. Proximity to barbecue grills, firepits, and other fire elements. Keep the sail away from flames to avoid accidentally setting it on fire.
  1. Direction of the sun. Make sure the sail will actually block sunlight where the sun rises and sets over your property.
Installing Your Shade Sail
The easiest way to install a shade sail is with a do-it-yourself kit. Your kit should come with attachment hardware so you can get right down to the fun part: installing it.
Shade
Thoroughly read the directions that come with your shade sail, as they may vary from kit to kit. In general, assembly will require attaching the rope to the shade sail, then cutting the rope to the proper length for your space, using bolt cutters to cut through the heavy-duty rope. Next, attach the hardware to your anchor points, such as your house, trees, or wooden posts. Then, use a turnbuckle to tighten the anchor point to achieve the desired tension. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions closely to get the best results.
2
Add Umbrella Shade
Image of Umbrella Shade
Setting up a patio umbrella is an easy way to create shade in your backyard.
While buying and installing an umbrella sounds simple enough, there are many varieties built for different spaces and styles to consider. And though installation is usually straightforward, umbrellas are large and heavy, and they can cause serious damage if they fall over or break if not properly weighted.
Here’s what to keep in mind when choosing an outdoor umbrella:
  1. Your style and mechanism preference. Some choices include a tilting umbrella with a hard crank, an umbrella with a push-up collar on the shaft, or a simple push-button version.
  1. Ease of opening and closing when people are sitting around or underneath the umbrella. Be sure that people and furniture won’t get hit by the umbrella as it goes up or down by taking into account the height of the umbrella and its supporting structure.
  1. Properly supporting the umbrella with a stand or table that’s made for it. Getting the correct weight for your umbrella’s size is important. As a rule of thumb, a 7 ½- to 9-foot patio umbrella with a table will require a weight of 40 to 55 pounds, whereas a free-standing patio umbrella requires at least 100 pounds to keep it anchored.
3
Add Curtains to a Pop-up Gazebo or Pergola
Image of Pop-up Gazebo or Pergola
A pop-up gazebo or pergola adds a stylish, relaxing element to outdoor living spaces, providing a designated area for eating or lounging.
There are many options to choose from, and you can find build-your-own kits with straightforward instructions that you can take care of in less than a day. As you’re researching these outdoor structures, consider models made from weather-resistant, easy-to-clean, durable materials that can stand up to the elements.

On extra hot days though, the gazebo or pergola structure alone may not give you enough shade to enjoy it comfortably. Attaching light, airy curtains onto your gazebo’s frame will get the job done. An added benefit of curtains is being able to close them to keep pesky bugs out. You can add curtains to all four sides of your structure, or just on the sides where the sun shines the strongest.

Here’s how to install gazebo or pergola curtains:
  1. Step 1: Place curtain clip hooks over the top horizontal bar of the gazebo frame.
  1. Step 2: Clip the end of one curtain panel onto the corresponding clip hook attached to the gazebo frame. Slide the hooks along the frame bar, attaching one clip to the portion of the panel beneath it every 12 inches as you work your way from one side of the curtain panel to the other.
  1. Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 for each curtain panel.
  1. Step 4: Once all curtains are hung, spread them out to your liking. If you’d like to keep them tethered, use string, straps, or even zip ties to hold the curtains open.
Put these handy steps into practice to outfit your outdoor space with a cool place to relax and enjoy your newly shaded spots all summer long.
Next time you visit your local Tractor Supply, a friendly team member would be happy to help you choose all the supplies and tools you’ll need to add shade to your outdoor space.
About the Writer
Scott Bish is a writer who hails from Ohio.

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