7 Budget-Friendly Options for Shading Your Outdoor Space

You can shade your patio in a variety of ways. A patio umbrella offers affordable outdoor shade, and there are several styles to choose from. With the right accessories, an umbrella’s pole can be adjusted to the desired height. Patio umbrellas are available in different shapes, colors and materials—choose what best suits your style.

We all like taking advantage of our outdoor living spaces during the hot summer, but sometimes the hot sun can be a bit too much. That is why it is essential to shade your patio to make it more enjoyable. In fact, you cannot say that you have a good patio without any shade installed. Although some patio shades cost a lot of money, there are some creative ways to do it without spending a lot of money.

So, how do you shade a patio cheaply? One cheap way to shade your patio is to use an old shower curtain or bed sheet as a makeshift canopy. You can hang this up with some rope or clothesline and have instant shade. Another way to create cheap patio shade is to use trees or bushes. If you have large trees in your yard, you can place some chairs or a table under them and enjoy the natural shade. Bushes can also provide some good shading for your patio area. You can also install shade sails, pergola, shade canopy, awnings, or use outdoor curtains.

This blog post highlights the best ways to get more shade in your patio or backyard without spending much money. Read on to learn more.

1. Natural Shade

You do not need to spend anything to have plenty of shade over your patio. You can be creative and enjoy plenty of natural shade by letting nature take its course. However, this applies only if your outdoor space is covered in trees.

A backyard patio nwith dinning table and chairs.
Trees with big branches and relatively huge leaves could provide excellent shade and a natural environment for your patio.

Planting trees in strategic spots remains one of the most economical and attractive ways of enhancing shade in your patio.

Trees with big branches and relatively huge leaves could provide excellent shade and a natural environment for your patio. All you need to do is position your patio furniture below the tree, and you are good to go.

The cool breeze from the trees is soothing and makes it comfortable to relax in your outdoor space on a hot day.

Before planting trees on your patio, conduct thorough research to determine what grows well in your climate and the conditions required to achieve better results.

You should also evaluate the possibility of not blocking the winter sun. If you are planting a row of trees to provide a natural shade, you need to do everything possible to ensure you are not blocking all the sun because you might need some of it.

Furthermore, be careful on the type of tree species you choose to avoid dealing with the menace of invasive roots next to your house. Talking to an expert before deciding the tree species to plant can help you avoid such problems.

You can use potted plants as an alternative to trees if you have limited space on your patio or do not want to wait years for the trees to mature and provide shade.

Potted plants are easier to control and take up less space than trees. They also come in a wide range of species, which means you can pick the size, shape, and color that works for your patio.

The most shade tolerant plants include bush morning glories, sedum, common periwinkle, lantana, impatiens, and coleus. All these plants can do an excellent job in providing shade to your patio without breaking the bank.

2. Shade Sails

While installing a shade sail is not necessarily the cheapest way to add shade to your patio, it is one of the most effective ways of blocking UV light and has a lifespan of about 15 years which can end up being economical in the long run.

Shade sails are available in a wide range of colors, sizes, and shapes, making it easy to find one that meets your specific needs.

A patio with shade sails.
Shade sails are incredibly strong and can withstand high winds and other harsh weather conditions.

You can also have them custom-made to ensure they perfectly meet your requirements in terms of size and shape.

Installing a shade sail is not as complicated as you might think. You can do it yourself, provided you have some basic DIY skills and the necessary tools.

Alternatively, you could hire a professional if you are not confident in your ability to get the job done correctly.

If installed correctly, shade sails are incredibly strong and can withstand high winds and other harsh weather conditions.

They are also an attractive addition to any patio or backyard and can be used in a wide range of settings, including swimming pools, gardens, and children’s play areas.

3. A Vertical Garden

A vertical garden next to your patio is not only an excellent way to add shade to your patio but can also provide your family with a year-round source of edibles such as fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

The great thing about a vertical garden is that you can easily build it using recycled materials, saving a lot of money. The only financial burden you will have to deal with is the cost of potting mix and the seedlings.

There are lots of helpful tips online for making your own vertical garden. Pinterest is a good starting point.

The easiest way to do it is to find some hanging pots from your local hardware, fill them with appropriate potting mix, add the seedlings and hang them at strategic points, vertical to your patio.

Consider planting plenty of vegetables and herbs as part of your vertical garden since they will provide you with plenty of shade while serving as a great source of homegrown food throughout the year.

4. Pergola

If you want a more permanent solution, you should consider installing a pergola on your patio. Pergolas are incredibly popular because they not only provide shade but can also enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space.

Installing a pergola is a straightforward process and can be done by anyone with basic carpentry skills.

Alternatively, you could hire a professional to do it for you if you do not feel confident in your ability to get the job done correctly. Pergolas are available in a wide range of materials, including wood, aluminum, and PVC.

Patio with pergola.
Pergolas are incredibly popular because they not only provide shade but can also enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space

The material you choose will largely be determined by your budget and the overall look you are trying to achieve. One of the main benefits of pergolas is that they can be customized to meet your specific needs.

For instance, you can have them designed with built-in shelves to create a perfect space for entertaining or add curtains to provide additional privacy.

5. Install Umbrellas

Installing an umbrella on your patio is one of the cheapest ways of adding shade to your outdoor space. The whole process, from start to end, involves little effort.

While some of the technologically advanced outdoor umbrellas may cost as much as $1,000, basic outdoor umbrellas cost anything between $100 and $400, depending on your needs. Prices mainly vary based on size and quality.

Ensure you conduct thorough research and measure your patio space before you start shopping for an outdoor umbrella.

Umbrella at the patio.
There is a huge range of outdoor umbrellas to choose from, including a more muted contemporary look to retro style and colors.

If possible, avoid purchasing the cheapest umbrella you come across since it may impact the quality. After all, you don’t want the umbrella to fly away while you are busy enjoying the shade.

If you already have an outdoor table with a hole through it, go for a patterned beach umbrella, which will provide an excellent opportunity to add a distinctive touch to your patio.

Fortunately, there is a huge range of outdoor umbrellas to choose from, including a more muted contemporary look to retro style and colors. It all depends on your needs and preferences.

6. Awnings

Awnings are another great way to add shade to your patio and protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Installing an awning is a bit more complicated than some of the other options we have discussed, but it is still something that can be done by anyone with basic carpentry skills and a little bit of patience.

The most important thing to remember when installing an awning is to ensure that it is properly secured, so it does not blow away in strong winds.

Once you have installed the awning, you can add some curtains or blinds to further customize the shade and privacy it provides.

Awnings are available in a wide range of colors, materials, and styles, so you should have no problem finding one that matches the overall look of your home.

7. Arbors

An arbor is a type of structure that is used to support climbing plants. Arbors can be freestanding or attached to the side of a building and are often used to create an attractive entryway into a garden or patio.

While they are primarily used for decorative purposes, arbors can also provide a significant amount of shade if placed in the right location.

A arbors on a patio.
Arbors can be freestanding or attached to the side of a building and are often used to create an attractive entryway into a garden or patio.

Arbors are relatively easy to build and can be made from various materials, including wood, metal, and PVC.

If you do not feel confident in your ability to build an arbor yourself, you can hire a professional to do it for you.


Shade is an integral part of any patio design. It can make the area more comfortable and help extend the time you spend outdoors.

There are several ways to add shade to your patio, from natural solutions like trees and vines to man-made options like shade sails or umbrellas.

The type of shade solution that is best for you will depend on your needs and budget.

No matter what you choose, be sure to factor in your patio design plan so that it enhances the look and feel of your outdoor space.

Last update on 2023-06-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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