Sometimes the difference between getting out in the yard in the summer and staying shuttered up inside is a lack of shade.
Whether you have a patio that gets hot enough to fry an egg or a bed of shade plants that has lost its tree canopy, there are ways of creating islands of relative coolness.
The options include cantilever umbrellas whose posts are set to the side for more versatility, pop-up canopies, sun shades and trellises.
“Before my trees grew very big, I had an 8- or 9-foot umbrella that I would raise because I didn’t have the shade,” said Keith Frazier, a member of the Wichita Hosta Society.
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The umbrella also could provide shade for a patio table. Frazier eventually learned where he could place the umbrella so that he wouldn’t have to move it all the time. Except that he would pull the umbrella out of its base and cart it off to provide some shade to members of the hosta club when they staffed a booth at Herb Day.
This year, the club bought a pop-up canopy from Cabela’s for the booth, Frazier said. That store and other retailers offer an array of tarp- and tent-like shelters and “screenhouses” that offer varying amounts of coverage.
Jack Hezlep is a master gardener whose patio faces west, and “it cooks in the afternoon,” he said. The patio also looks out on a lake and the rest of his subdivision, and he was looking for a way to provide some privacy as well. So he built two substantial trellises. They provide some shelter on their own, but he and his wife, Linda, also a master gardener, have been planting a variety of vines at the base of the trellises to get a dense cover.
For perennial vines, they chose grapes. “We bought three kinds at Arnold’s (Greenhouse in LeRoy) last year, and they’re supposed to provide fairly good-eating reds,” Hezlep said. The Hezleps also planted faster-growing annual vines to help fill in the gaps until the grape vines get large – fragrant snail vine, cypress vine and the riotous hyacinth bean.
Hezlep also planted hyacinth-bean vines on a wrought-iron fence for more privacy along a communal sidewalk in the backyard.
While many of us can’t build a trellis, you can find all manner of trellises, arbors and fence-like screens for purchase. Firecracker vine, black-eyed Susan vine and moon flowers are among options for annual climbers for trellises. Be careful to know the growing habit of any vine you buy and try not to plant too many vine plants or seeds or place them too close together, as their aggressive growth can be too much for you and the trellis by late summer. If you’re wanting to cozy up to a vine-covered trellis, also be sure that the vines you plant don’t produce bee-attracting flowers.
When purchasing any of these shade-giving structures, be aware that the wind at some point – and maybe often – will try to uproot them. Cheaply made or poorly anchored umbrellas can take off or break up.
For people who have a covered deck or patio, or who want to block some sun from coming inside the house, special shades are available to cut the glare, shut out the bugs and rain, and provide a modicum of privacy.
Insolroll shades cut the glare and heat without providing complete privacy or completely blocking the view on the other side, said Janie Chisholm of Janie Chisholm Designs. She’s used the shades in restaurants and houses – in great rooms or family rooms or an office where people want to see out but don’t want the glare on a computer or TV screen. “It also helps protect your furnishings and your floor,” Chisholm said. The shades can be hung inside or outside the house; even when they’re outside, a remote control can lower and raise them from inside the house.
Pat Squires had the shades placed around his deck in east Wichita. When he lowers all of them, he can enclose the deck, providing some privacy and helping shade inside the house as well as the deck. Chisholm said the shades also can keep bugs and rain out.
“Looking out of it usually somewhat darkens your view. It’s like looking out through a window that has film on it,” she said.
Of course, to provide the nicest shade for the future, plant shade trees, choosing specimens whose eventual height and width will fit the available space.