Six garden shade ideas for summer

The reason we Brits are so obsessed with the weather is due to its unpredictability, so we’ve put together some garden shade ideas with our variable weather in mind.

We love being out in the sun, but sometimes it can be a bit too much, or we need shelter from rain showers.

The sun may great on your skin, but the heat can be very drying, especially when we experience a heatwave here in the UK. Even staying hydrated and slapping on the lotion will not put back all the moisture that the sun can remove faster than you’d think. It’s very important to ensure you have some garden shade to offer respite for your whole family, including children and pets.

Garden shade ideas for UK, closed pergola shade.

Cheap garden shade ideas

1 – Parasols

One of the cheapest garden shade ideas is having a parasol available for when the sun gets a bit too much. This can be a bit fiddly, unless you have a table with a hole in the middle, designed for inserting a parasol into. Some parasols will just be straight and others will have an end which is adjustable, allowing for some control of where the shade ends up.

• Parasols are a fast, cheap garden shade solution and widely available.
• Parasols often come in a range of colours and patterns to add style and texture to a space.

• Parasols are designed for shade and are not umbrellas, so they are not a great solution for if it starts raining or if it gets too windy.
• There is limited control over where you can position a parasol, giving limited shade options.

Garden Shade Ideas dining table parasol

2 – Plants and trees

It is possible to create garden shade from overhanging plants if you plan accordingly. However, you usually need some kind of structure, such as a pergola or trellis, upon which you can grow your plants. You can grow vining plants that enjoy the sun on south or west-facing trellises or pergolas that will grow to provide shade. Choosing a grape vine would be a good option to offer dappled garden shade and allow some sunlight to filter through a haze of green leaves, plus you can create your own grape jam or wine.

• Plants offer a natural way of creating shade.
• Some options come with additional benefits, such as colourful flowers or fruit.

• Plants require looking after, so if you have a low-maintenance garden, this option isn’t for you.
• Trees take years to grow and careful planning to ensure the shade is in the right area.
• Plants won’t offer full sun and rain protection.

3 – Garden shade sails

Shade sails are becoming more popular and are usually rectangular, triangular or square, with support lines coming from each corner. The lines are then tied to either a support hook or pole that you install or a tree. They are available in waterproof fabrics but must be angled in a way to allow liquid to run off.

• No pole to block your view of others around the table.
• Shade sails are another quick, affordable fix to offer garden shade.

• You might need to get creative with the placement of the shade guides and hooks; they need to fastened to something strong to tension the fabric and it can look a bit messy.
• You’ll need to find a shade with UV protection, water resistance and durability in wind to cope with the British weather.

More permanent garden shade ideas

4 - Garden awnings

If you are looking for something a bit less flimsy than the cheaper garden shade ideas, you might consider a patio awning, which can be attached to the side of an existing structure. Garden awnings can be manual or electrical and require more investment than a temporary solution such as a garden sail. However, prices can vary depending upon quality, with awnings costing anywhere between £200 to £8,000.

We offer SELT motorised awnings as an alternative shading solution for smaller patio areas. These are available with an adjustable front valance for more shade. Prices start from as little as £1,200.

Example of an awning


• An awning can offer better protection for garden furniture than a temporary solution and is suited to small patio areas.
• An awning won’t cost as much as more permanent structures like pergolas with shades and garden rooms.

• Awnings must be retracted when the wind gets above a strong breeze to prevent damage.
• Motorised Awnings can include weather automation that automatically retracts them if there is too much rain, wind and even snow – but a replacement sensor can be costly.
• Not all retractable awning fabric tends to be weather-proofed; there is a chance it could develop leaks or trap water leading to mould growth.

Luxury garden shade ideas

Modern pergola with retractable waterproof pergola shade open at night

5 – Garden canopy pergolas

Pergolas don’t usually come with any shelter built in. Here at Hampshire Shades, we believe you should be able to enjoy your garden whatever the weather, and we know that a pergola alone won’t cut it when it comes to the British summer. That’s why we’ve designed luxury canopy pergolas which have customisable modern timber or aluminium frames and weatherproof retractable pergola shades that can be used all year round.

Alternatively, if you had an existing pergola and you wanted to create shade without a green thumb, you could purchase a pergola shade or retractable canopy to be custom-built to fit your pergola. Hampshire Shades offers custom pergola shades from £2,700. This can be a more cost-effective option than purchasing a new pergola and shade from £5,950.

When researching garden pergolas with shades, check if installation, design and a warranty is included in any price quoted.

• A good quality pergola and shade will be a lot more durable than some of the cheaper garden shade ideas.
• By choosing a pergola with a retractable canopy shade, you are able to choose when you want sun and rain protection and when you want full sun. Our pergola shades are made with weatherproof marine-grade fabric in a range of colours, which divert rain to any chosen side of the pergola.
• A pergola and shade solution will not cost as much as a dedicated garden room and does not require planning permission (unless your building is listed).

• Many pre-built pergolas have limited size, colour and style options to choose from, so if you are considering a pergola, it’s worth seeing what design options are available and getting a free quote with 3D design showing how a custom-built one could fit into your exact space.
• A custom-built pergola and shade is a luxury investment and will cost more than a mass-produced product or some of the cheaper temporary shade options.

6 – Garden rooms

Generally the most pricey option, a dedicated garden room will cost anything from £10,000 up depending upon quality, materials used and additional features and services required, such as installation, lighting, heating and entertainment options. Check if the foundations are included in the price and invest in a good quality structure, as a cheaper alternative will likely end up costing more to fix in the long run.
Garden shade ideas - Glass walled garden room

• Creating a garden room can add value to your property.
• If you don’t use your garden a lot, having a garden room can maximise on your use of the square footage available on your property.
• Homes with a dedicated office space are more desirable since COVID-19, so a garden room could be used to create one cost effectively.
• A garden room will offer more protection for furniture and electricals and can be fitted with electrical sockets.

• A garden room is the most expensive way of creating garden shade.
• A garden room is a permanent structure and a bigger commitment than other options.

Garden shade ideas for UK weather – conclusion

If you’re researching garden shade ideas, you have probably read a lot of articles which are not from the UK. We put together this list with the British weather in mind to help you make an informed decision and plan for those summer showers. For more information about our pergolas and shades or a shade for your existing pergola, contact us for a free quote.
We are a member of Made in Britain, and our timber pergolas and bespoke shades are designed and made in the UK.
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