As summer approaches and the sun continually gets higher in the sky day by day, patio spaces will begin to heat up and bake. This can make for an uncomfortable experience at any outdoor party or barbecue. No need to sweat it because there are many ways to include shade elements within your space to beat the heat. Shade sails, pergolas or even actual pavilion style roof structures can all be custom designed to fit your needs.

Shade sails first became popular at resort destinations and hotels, but have been making their way into residential landscapes more and more every year. The design concept is based on having at least three to four fixed anchor points either on a home’s façade or posts. These connections are usually a galvanized or stainless steel eye anchor bolt. The sail itself is made from decorative, UV resistant, tensioned fabric, which is available in an array of vibrant colors. Multiple sails can be combined and layered to create an architectural parabolic focal point. There are numerous online manufacturers that will design complete kits that even the novice handyman would be capable of installing.

Pergolas are another way to achieve filtered shade and can be constructed from wood, vinyl, composite or aluminum materials. There are three basic elements that compose a pergola: vertical posts/columns, support cross beams/rafters and ornate purlins. These structures not only provide shade but can be home for flowering woody vines such as wisteria, honeysuckle or trumpet vine to name a few. Retractable canopy systems are also available for individuals who want the look of a pergola with the option to have complete shade. Sunbrella fabrics are used on sliding tracks mounted between the rafters and can either be operated manually or by remote. These pergolas are the best solutions to appease both the sun worshipper and shade lover alike.

Open air, pavilion style, solid roof structures are the ultimate way to create an outdoor shaded room which can be utilized in any weather. As with a pergola, pavilions have vertical posts/columns and can be tied into a home’s façade or built freestanding. It is the framed solid roof which allows for the incorporation of recessed lighting, fans, audio-visual, not to mention a force field from those burning UV rays. Shade is not the only way these roof structures can provide refuge from the sun. Misters can even be integrated into the soffit overhang to offer added relief. There are many construction codes and township setback requirements which apply to these so some pre-design research is recommended.

Sanctuary from the sun, as you can see, can be achieved in many more architectural ways than the typical patio umbrella. On the next sunny day sit in your space and evaluate sun patterns throughout the day. Make a wish list of your needs for how you would like to increase use of the area and decide which solution works best. Stay cool.

Michael Pasquarello is a degreed landscape architect with Elite Landscaping. Email him at or call (856) 753-1944. Visit for more information.