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What Every Backyard Needs: SHADE

Limited travel opportunities combined with record high temperatures have pushed many of us into our backyards this summer. Perhaps it has become your safe haven or a place where you can detach from work. However, without relief from the sun you may find yourself back inside. 

Shade is essential to the enjoyment and use of your backyard space. With the right design, a covered area and the right plants your backyard will be your favourite destination this summer!

Creating Harmony:  Balancing shade and sun

Creating a backyard space that is enjoyable throughout the day and evening requires a design that will balance sun and shade based on your exposure. A landscape designer will be able to recommend options for managing the amount of sun in key areas of your backyard. S/he will ask you questions about what time of day you use different parts of your backyard and how much sun exposure you want.  Do you want space for lounging in the sun or for a vegetable garden? Do you want some shade at all hours of the day or just part of the day? After you determine how much shade you need and where you want your shade, your designer can recommend the best methods of creating it. 

Large open and covered backyard structure attached to the house, with furniture, to provide shade during the day.

Creating Shade

There are many ways to create shade.  What is best for you? Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of each:  

Structures: Structures provide a range of coverage from full to partial. Structures that are fully covered offer an extension of the inside allowing more time outside. Partially covered structures offer relief from the sun but keep an open air feeling. Structures provide immediate coverage and are more durable than temporary solutions however they are also a bigger financial investment. 

An open and covered backyard structure made of natural colored materials.
An open and partially covered structure made of unpainted wood.

Trees: Trees provide a natural relief from the shade. If you already have trees in your backyard consider a seating area to take advantage of the shade they create. If your yard is treeless, consider the advantages and type of trees to achieve your goals. Trees are a great long term investment. Mature trees add value to your home as well as visual interest. You want to pick a tree that will have a large canopy as opposed to a columnar structure. In the short term, you may want to consider pairing a moveable shade solution with your newly planted tree until the tree is large enough to provide the shade you want.

A large matured tree providing a lot of shade.

Movable Options: If you aren’t looking for the commitment of a permanent option you might want to consider moveable shade options. Umbrellas, sun shades and awnings provide an escape from the sun quickly and conveniently. Moveable shade options may be a smaller upfront investment but what you save on cost you may lose in lifespan.

A lap pool with movable large deck umbrella and chairs.

If your backyard is fully shaded: 

If your backyard is already fully shaded you will need to think carefully about what plant material will be successful in conditions without sun. Most plants need a good amount of sunlight though there are a few that will survive in shady conditions. Here are our suggestions: 

Shade Loving Perennials

Astilbe: Provide lots of colour in shady gardens and when planted as a mass, creates a stunning effect. Our favourites areAstilbe thunbergii ‘Ostrich Plume’ and Astilbe arendsii ‘Colour flash’.

Ferns: While they don’t flower they provide texture, varying heights, and softness to a shade garden. They also can be used to provide a more natural woodland setting or a more formal look. Check out the varieties, Japanese painted fern for colour and Ostrich fern for height.

LungwortBeautiful flowers are usually pink and blue in spring. Great for the front border and looks best planted on mass.

Shade Loving Shrubs

YewsEasy to grow and fairly fast growing, from dark green to light green.  Provide good texture and colourful berries.  With many varieties can be great for formal or informal gardens.

ViburnumGreat texture on leaves, large flower balls, beautiful fall colour, and many varieties to choose.

DogwoodMany varieties, adds bright colour, open and airy, responds well to pruning. Best in dappled shade.

Whether you have ample shade or too much sun, getting help from one of our talented designers will ensure you are taking advantage of your current sun conditions. Set up a consult today>>>


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