5 DIY Ways to Add Shade to Your Deck or Patio

Spend more time enjoying your outdoor spaces this year with these shady solutions you can install yourself.

Confession: I don’t get enough use out of my deck. I’d love to spend more time out there, but after an hour or so of squinting, sweating and getting sunburnt, I end up going inside. If you, too, are in serious need of some shelter from the sun, I’ve rounded up five affordable projects for varying skill levels. Add these to your to-do list, and spend your spring and summer made in the shade.

Dress Up a Shade Sail

DIY Embellished Sail Shade

DIY Embellished Sail Shade

Transform a too hot, over-exposed patio or deck into a shady, relaxation zone with this sophisticated DIY sail shade. Just a few thoughtful details can take this project from looking strictly functional to stylishly designed.

Photo by: © Rustic White Photography, LLC

© Rustic White Photography, LLC

Installing a shade sail is a low-cost way to create a cooler, comfier outdoor space. We took a basic, store-bought sail and prettied it up with some grosgrain ribbon. Wrap the support posts in sisal rope for a coastal look. 

Hang Curtains

Deck Privacy Curtains 01:05

Add privacy to your deck or patio with colorful freestanding curtains.

Curtains do double duty in an outdoor space, providing both shade and privacy. But what if I don't have anything to hang curtains from, you ask? Using planters and 2x4s, designer Brian Patrick Flynn came up with a clever way to install curtains without making structural changes to a deck. Watch the video above to see how he did it.

Plant a Vertical Garden

Living Privacy Wall

Living Privacy Wall

A small porch becomes a private party space with this imaginative makeover by landscape designer Jamie Durie, who created "pocket gardens" around the perimeter, forming a living wall.

and The Outdoor Room With Jamie Durie

Even if you have a brown thumb, you can create a gorgeous living wall using easy-to-care-for fabric pocket planters. Hang a group of them on a deck or patio, and voila! Your average outdoor space is now a lush, secluded oasis.

Vertical Garden Ideas

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Size Does Matter

Corporate offices, shopping malls and medical centers are beginning to utilize green walls in ways that introduce both nature and a sense of serenity into environments that might seem more antiseptic without them. This installation at the Edmonton International Airport gives some idea of the scale of this project by Green Over Grey

Photo By: Image courtesy of Green Over Grey

Living Large

Vertical gardens—aka green walls—allow plants to grow on a structural support with nutrients and water distributed to the plants from within the container. Designed for both exterior and interior spaces, these unique garden sculptures can transform any area into a green space like this living wall from Green Over Gray

Photo By: Image courtesy of Green Over Gray

Where the Wild Things Are

A lush green facade with a tropical jungle aura transforms this modern kitchen into a stunning showroom where cooking is rarely boring. 

Photo By: Image courtesy of Green Over Grey

Alternate Reality

This view of the kitchen's vertical garden wall suggests a tropical rain forest moved indoors. 

Photo By: Image courtesy of Green Over Grey

Organic Facade

Here's one way to make your business stand out from the competition. Inspiration Furniture in Vancouver, British Columbia, hired Green Over Grey to design one of their exterior walls as a magnificent living garden stretching from the sidewalk to the rooftop.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Green Over Grey

A Real Living Room

When we say living room, we mean it literally in this presentation of a vertical garden for a home or office. Equipped with waterproof panels and an automatic irrigation system, this living wall from Green Over Grey can accommodate flowering perennials, groundcovers, succulents and even small trees and shrubs. 

Photo By: Image courtesy of Green Over Grey

You Call This a Garage Wall?

A homeowner hired Livewall to transform his garage wall into a field of flowers, using different varieties of petunias. This is the first day of the installation.

Photo By: Image courtesy of LiveWall, LLC

Petunia Takeover

A month after the LiveWall installation, the garage wall has become a landscape of seasonal beauty as well as a unique interface for the building's architecture. 

Photo By: Image courtesy of LiveWall, LLC

Portable Nature

If you are unable to maintain a garden or don't have access to green space on your property, there are solutions like this LiveScreen model from LiveWall, which provides beautiful, low-maintenance mobile gardens you can enjoy inside or on decks and patios. 

Photo By: Image courtesy of LiveWall, LLC

The Living Fountain

Living walls are starting to become attractive facades for garden fountains such as this colorful creation which is showcased at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Three-Dimensional Art

Redefining the concept of live art, these Grovert Living Wall Planters by BrightGreen add beautiful accents to any wall and are available in various frame designs in wood, metal, copper, simulated stone and more. 

Photo By: Image courtesy of BrightGreen

Garden Greetings

Welcome visitors to your home with a live nature display in a polymer planter from BrightGreen which can be hung separately or in groups. Plants can be watered manually by installing the GroVert Irrigator or through a built-in drip line system. 

Photo By: Image courtesy of BrightGreen

Color Coordination

Today's green wall products offer a wide range of choices from high-end architectural designs to more affordable options like this versatile Grovert Living Wall Planter which offers a variety of frame options for specific color palettes.

Photo By: Image courtesy of BrightGreen

Surfboard and Succulents

You can create your own unique vertical gardens by combining favorite frame styles with preferred types of vegetation such as this surf-themed wall mount from BrightGreen.

Photo By: Image courtesy of BrightGreen

What's Hanging in Your Hall?

Nature and art converge in LivePicture, a sustainable living plant system by Ambius that comes in sizes similar to wall paintings. Instead of fine art, why not hang a living garden sculpture?

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ambius, photo by Nick Luypen

Wall Carpet

A wall becomes a carpet of thick, lush greenery in this Miami residence which was a joint project by Ambius, TRIO Design Consultants and Adam Ehlmann Design.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ambius, photo by Tom Dickinson and Jay Match

Green Close-up

This more detailed view of a stunning Miami residence's green wall gives a better idea of the floor to ceiling scale and the variety of vegetation used.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ambius, photo by Tom Dickinson and Jay Match

Make a Privacy Screen

Like curtains, a privacy screen can block out light while adding privacy from nosy (or well-meaning) neighbors. Use basic home improvement store materials to make this stylish, herringbone-pattern screen. The secret to the design is laying the boards out at a 22-½ degree angle.

Build a Pergola

Build a Backyard Pergola

Build a Backyard Pergola

Pergolas provide refuge from the blazing sun and are an attractive permanent addition to any garden space. Installing one doesn't have to break your budget, either. Grab a couple handy friends and make this simple wood pergola, which can be made in just a few days' work.

If you're an experienced DIYer, you can even pretty up your patio with a pergola — and it doesn't have to break your budget. Grab a of couple handy friends and make this simple wood structure in just a few days.

More Ways to Make Shade

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Shade to Grow On

This traditional white pergola serves as both a shade-maker and a place for flowering vines to flourish. The more the plants grow, the more shade they'll provide. Design by Jamie Durie

Romantic Patio

Skylights on the roof of this chartreuse covered porch let a little sunlight in, while flowing, romantic curtains can close to create filtered light and additional privacy. Design seen on HGTV's Going Yard

Poolside Pergola

A dark wooden pergola frames this outdoor living area and creates filtered light during sunny afternoons. Image courtesy Viceroy Hotels and Resorts

Relax in the Shade

This poolside cabana in toasty Palm Springs, Calif., provides total shade for tired swimmers. Image courtesy Viceroy Hotels and Resorts

Photo By: Courtesy of Viceroy Hotels and Resorts

Cool Off the Dinner Table

Designers Robert and Cortney Novogratz used thin panels of wood to create a woven covering for this urban outdoor dining room. It provides both moderate shade and a barrier from nosy upstairs neighbors.

Two Layers of Cool

This triangular pergola next to the pool provides much-needed shade in between laps. Two layers of wood provide shade from multiple directions, and create a lattice pattern on the patio. Design seen on HGTV's Going Yard

Natural Shade

Building this patio around an existing lemon tree provides color, interest and Mother Nature's favorite form of shade. Design by Jamie Durie

Modern Comfort

Designer Jamie Durie used long strips of canvas to create shade and to echo an interior feature in this modern home.

Anne Heche's Shade Solution

When actress Anne Heche and her husband asked Jamie Durie to create more shade in their too-hot backyard, he delivered with this house-length pergola fitted with adjustable Roman shades on the top and sides.

Sliding Panels

These canvas panels are easily moveable, so you can block out the sun (or let it in) as it shifts throughout the day. Designer Jamie Durie mounted the panels on heavy-gauge wire for durability and maximum adjustability.

Spider Web-Inspired Shade

The macrame design on this gazebo blocks just a bit of light, but creates interesting shadows on the floor below and provides an ideal spot to suspend bright hanging baskets. Design by Jamie Durie

Modern Canopy

From below, this modern canopy looks like a piece of art. Designer Jamie Durie filled triangles where wood pieces met with blue and yellow fabric, leaving lots of negative space to allow some light to get through.

Temporary Shade

For small gardens, temporary shade solutions take up less space and allow more flexibility. This sail-like screen creates shade and makes the garden feel more intimate. It can be taken down when not in use.

Photo By: DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Made for Shade

A custom canopy and draperies made from Sunbrella outdoor fabric help keep the elements (and the sun) out while also softening the space.

Your Own Personal Cabana

These private lounge spaces are artfully immersed into the pool; the infinity edge merges the cool waters with the private cabana, creating a unified, harmonious experience. Bamboo roof slats and white linen canopies provide shade while creating a well-defined private retreat.

Photo By: Jamie Durie

Modern Country

Dan Berger put a modern twist on rustic-country style when he designed this gazebo that sits alongside a babbling brook. Latticed vertical screens provide privacy and additional shade.

Billowing Curtains

This airy space is large enough to house summertime parties but intimate enough for an afternoon nap. The linen draperies and overhead sails add romantic style and help bring in cool shade. Design by RMS user SanDtexs

Green Roof

Wisteria blooms create the "ceiling" of this patio and a moderate amount of shade. Design by Patricia Wagner

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