Summers in my part of the country can be brutal, making overhead shade a must-have commodity. While the towering trees that line my property provide ample shade in the evening hours, the mornings and afternoons can be sweltering if you’re stuck in direct sun. Over the years, I’ve tried a number of different solutions so that I could enjoy the privacy of my backyard without the accompanying heat. If you also want to enjoy your backyard, consider adding one of these options for overhead shade coverings.


One of the easiest and most affordable options I’ve found for backyard shade is patio umbrellas. These oversized umbrellas can be easily slid into the center of most patio tables or set up anywhere in your backyard using a portable umbrella base. Umbrellas are also available in a wide range of colors and styles to complement existing garden or pool furniture.


A pergola is a freestanding structure that is commonly used to cover a pathway, define a walking space, or cover an area offering outside entertainment. Pergolas typically feature open sides and a solid or slatted roof. A pergola is the ideal solution if you desire only partial shade, as the slats create filtered light on sunny days.


While more costly than other options, gazebos have multiple uses. Not only do they offer overhead shade, but they also serve as a gathering spot for family and friends, a place to eat and entertain, and a refuge from less desirable weather, such as summer rain showers. Due to their popularity, portable gazebos are now available for purchase fully assembled. However, the charm of a more traditional gazebo with ornately carved columns can also add immense beauty to your landscape.


Inexpensive, waterproof tarps are a simple option for overhead shade in a backyard. Tarps can be found in a full scope of colors and do a decent job of blocking out the sun. If you don’t like the look of regular polyethylene tarps, opt for a more stylish tent material, such as mesh tarps that filter sunlight or a triangular shade sail tarp, available in many decorative colors and innovative designs.


Large trees and shrubs can provide shade and beauty to spacious backyards. Consider planting shorter flowers and shrubs along walkways to cast shade. Larger trees with dense foliage are ideal over entertainment spaces or places of relaxation, such as lounge chairs or hammocks. Fast-growing plants, such as ivy, can be planted along arbors to allow the vines to climb up the structure, creating instant shade.


Similar to a pergola, a canopy makes for a practical backyard structure that can be used for numerous purposes, including eating, entertainment, and relaxation. Canopies not only provide shade on hot days, but they can also be used with screens to keep pesky mosquitoes, flies, and other insects out. Canopies are an excellent option for parties or large get-togethers, as they are available in a wide range of sizes and decorative styles.