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Get Out of the Sun with 5 Ideas for Backyard Shade
Illinois Ag Connection - 07/02/2020

Relaxing outdoors while surrounded by plants is a great stress reducer. As temperatures heat up, you can prolong your time outside by creating some shade in your yard.

"Shaded areas let you stay outside longer without getting exhausted from the sun," says Nancy Kreith, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. "Try incorporating some of these landscape design elements to make the most of your yard this summer."

1. Plant a shade tree: Putting a tree on the south or west side of your yard can block the intense afternoon summer sun. It will take time for the tree to mature and provide ample shade, but this is an inexpensive, long-term option, Kreith says. When planting trees, be sure to follow appropriate planting and post-care techniques. Water your tree well the first three years after its planted.

2. Put up a canopy tent: Turn patios and seating areas into shady sanctuaries with a canopy tent. Canopy tents come in a variety of sizes and styles and can be easily stored over the winter. During inclement weather, keep an eye on the tent so wind or heavy rainfall does not damage it. Anchor the legs so it does not blow away and remove pooling water from the canopy as soon as possible so it does not collapse. For a more attractive feature, explore shade sails, large patio umbrellas, or retractable awnings. There are many options available.

3. Build a gazebo or pergola: These permanent structures are an option if your budget allows it. Design your own or have a carpenter or company install a prefabricated kit.

4. Hang patio curtains or shades: If you have an existing structure or decide to build one, patio curtains add a soft touch and can be adjusted to provide shade from different directions as needed. To lower the cost, consider using fabric you have on hand, roll-up shades, or shower curtains. UV-protected materials will last the longest outdoors.

5. Install a water feature: This could be as simple as a fountain or something larger like a pond or reflecting pool. Situate the feature to take advantage of summer breezes blowing across the water and cooling the air. The most important rule is to keep water circulating, which can be done with a bubbler or low-flow pump. Follow installation instructions and look up building codes in your area for rules on permanent structures and water features, Kreith says.

University of Illinois Extension is the flagship outreach effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offering educational programs to residents of all of Illinois' 102 counties and far beyond. Illinois Extension provides practical education you can trust to help people, businesses, and communities solve problems, develop skills, and build a better future. Through our Agriculture and Natural Resources programs, Illinois Extension supports the economic viability and environmental sustainability of natural and managed landscapes and productive lands in Illinois. Horticulture program educators provide research-based information and training about gardening, fruits and vegetables, flowers, insects and diseases, composting, landscaping, and more.

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