Creating Shade in the Garden: Creative Garden Shade Ideas, Structures & Solutions [UPDATED]

Garden shade ideas emerge as the sunbathes your outdoor space, sparking thoughts of a tranquil garden room, a relaxing summer house, or a refreshed patio. During moments of relaxation and family gatherings, especially in the summer months, it becomes obvious that shade is essential. Whether you are thinking about creating a cosy nook or a spacious patio retreat, the right shade solutions turn your garden into a welcoming sanctuary where you can unwind and fully enjoy the beauty of nature.

Editor’s Note [26.09.23]: Our guide about creating shade in the garden was originally published on July 24, 2018. Today’s update is quite sizable with sections relating to the importance of creating shade, garden shade ideas, reasons why shade enhances outdoor space, shade sails for gardens, and 20 top UK shade plants.

The importance of creating shade in the garden

Establishing shade in your garden holds paramount importance for both the well-being of your plants and your personal outdoor experience. Adequate shade protects delicate plants from excessive direct sunlight exposure, preventing wilting and sunburn. It also offers a cool retreat for you and your loved ones, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors comfortably on even the hottest days.

Shade creates a harmonious atmosphere, fostering a sense of tranquillity and relaxation. By strategically incorporating shade through pergolas, canopies, gazebos, and arbours, you not only enhance the aesthetics of your garden but also cultivate a serene haven where nature and comfort coexist.

a black metal frame with a brown fabric covering with a BBQ underneatha black metal frame with a brown fabric covering with a BBQ underneath

Garden shade ideas and solutions

Explore a variety of garden shade ideas, patio shade ideas and solutions to transform your outdoor space into a comfortable and inviting stylish summer oasis. From stylish pergolas to practical umbrellas, discover innovative ways to beat the heat and bring shade while enjoying your garden and creating in some cases a focal point. Read our table of 20 creative concepts, each designed to provide you with a range of options to create a shaded retreat that suits your style and needs, whilst also providing rain protection.






Elegant structures that offer partial shade and architectural charm


Shade Sails

Modern and versatile fabric canopies for dynamic shading



Adjustable and retractable coverings for customisable shade



Charming structures with latticework for dappled shade and aesthetics



Fully covered outdoor shelters for comprehensive shade and comfort



Portable and flexible shade options for smaller spaces



Combine climbing and trailing plants with trellis lattice structures for natural shading


Bamboo screens

Create a rustic and exotic shaded area with bamboo partitions


Outdoor curtains

Add shade and a touch of elegance and privacy with flowing curtains


Shade plants

Strategically plant trees and shrubs to create shaded pockets


Cantilevered structures

Floating designs for unobstructed shading in various areas


Outdoor blinds

Versatile and adjustable blinds for instant shade control


Retractable awnings

Sleek coverings that can be extended or retracted as needed


Sun loungers with canopy

Combine comfort with shade in poolside or lounging areas


Green roofs

Transform roofs into shaded and eco-friendly garden areas


Roof overhangs

Utilise existing building structures to create shade areas


Hanging gardens

Suspend potted plants for natural and mobile shading solutions


Shade trees

Strategically plant large trees to create generous shaded spots


Outdoor dividers

Create shaded zones with decorative screens or partitions


Trellis panels

Improve your garden's aesthetics with trellis panels that provide shade and a vertical garden space

7 reasons why outdoor shade options enhance your outdoor space

Adding outdoor shade options brings numerous benefits that add both comfort and aesthetic appeal. Not only do they provide relief from the sun's rays, but they also create inviting areas for relaxation and socialising:

  1. Comfortable retreats - shaded areas become cosy retreats, where you can unwind, seek shade, read a book, or have conversations while staying cool and comfortable
  2. Extended living space - outdoor shading expands your usable living area, giving you more room to entertain guests, dine, or engage in various outdoor activities
  3. Flexible entertaining - shaded spaces provide flexibility for hosting outdoor events, from casual barbecues to elegant gatherings, regardless of the weather
  4. Increased property value - well-designed outdoor shading solutions can enhance the value of your property by creating attractive, functional, and sought-after outdoor living spaces
  5. Preserving outdoor furniture – making shade helps protect your outdoor furniture from scorching sun damage and fading, extending its lifespan, and maintaining its appearance
  6. Protection from UV rays - outdoor shade solutions shield you from harmful UV rays, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors without worrying about sunburn or skin damage
  7. Versatile design - with various shade options available, you can choose designs that complement your outdoor aesthetics and enhance the overall appeal of your space
a patio cover with a table and chairs underneatha patio cover with a table and chairs underneath

Choosing from a range of garden shade structures

Incorporating shade into your garden has never been easier with the addition of pergolas, canopies, gazebos, and arbours. These shade structure solutions not only provide relief from the sun but also enhance the aesthetics of your outdoor living space. Each of these garden features offers its unique charm and functionality, ensuring you find the perfect fit for your garden. Below, we explore the details of each of these garden shade structures, exploring the benefits and styles that will elevate your garden to new heights of comfort and beauty.

1)    Pergolas

Though pergolas’ roofs typically feature trellising or open spaces (i.e., not a solid roof), they can still be used to create shelter and shade. This is a solution, which avoids completely blocking out the sun, but provides shade with the help of a few climbing plants. Be sure to include different varieties, which flower at different times, to ensure decent coverage throughout the seasons. Try wisteria, jasmine, and clematis; they are easy to grow and look great. Click here to view Shedstore's fantastic full range of pergolas.

wooden pergolawooden pergola
photo of a flower with the caption 'Combine stunning Jasmine with one of these pergolas to create a splendid shady area.'photo of a flower with the caption 'Combine stunning Jasmine with one of these pergolas to create a splendid shady area.'
a corner pergola kita corner pergola kit

2) Canopies

If you want more shade coverage perhaps a freestanding structure or existing wall-mountable canopy would be an appropriate alternative. Protecting you from the summer heat of the sun’s rays as well as those all-too-common summer showers, canopies truly are a great investment. Ideal for covering garden furniture, a stylish canopy allows you to enjoy alfresco dining regardless of the weather. Plus, you can move the canopy back when you desire additional light. Click here to view our fantastic full range of canopies.

canopy over a wooden picnic tablecanopy over a wooden picnic table
canopy over table and chairscanopy over table and chairs
canopy over a table and chairscanopy over a table and chairs

3) Gazebos

For those owning larger outdoor spaces, luxury wooden gazebos are brilliant providers of shelter and shade. Featuring impressive 15 year guarantees against rot and fungal decay, thanks to advanced pressure treatment techniques, these items are designed to stand the test of time. Plus, larger models have more than enough room to keep a whole family protected and under cover. Some even feature integral seating areas and tables; how great is that? Click here to view Shedstore's fantastic full range of garden gazebos.

luxurious wooden gazebo with timber roof, flower pots either side the entrance, seats covered with brown cushionsluxurious wooden gazebo with timber roof, flower pots either side the entrance, seats covered with brown cushions
beautiful elegant grey garden gazebobeautiful elegant grey garden gazebo
luxurious wooden gazebo with timber roof, flower pots either side the entrance, seats covered with brown cushionsluxurious wooden gazebo with timber roof, flower pots either side the entrance, seats covered with brown cushions

4) Arbours

For those with a more limited area to play with, arbours are a wonderful solution for outdoor spaces deprived of shade. Providing just enough space for a couple to spend a romantic evening, or ample room for one to stretch out and enjoy a good book, arbours are a must-have for anyone who enjoys spending time outside. Be sure to accessorise with paints and those aforementioned climbing plants too; you’ll create a truly unique, personal garden feature. Click here to view our fantastic full range of garden arbours.

green arbour seat with sloping curved apex roofgreen arbour seat with sloping curved apex roof
wooden arbour with swinging bench suspended by chainswooden arbour with swinging bench suspended by chains
wooden arbour benchwooden arbour bench

Shade sails for gardens - embracing elegance and protection

Enhance your garden's aesthetics and comfort with our collection of shade sails. These versatile and stylish structures offer a modern and functional solution for creating shaded areas in your outdoor space. Designed to provide effective sun protection while adding a touch of elegance, shade sails come in various sizes, colours, and designs to suit your garden's unique style.

Whether you are looking to cover an entire patio, poolside, or any outdoor covered seating area, our shade sails offer a blend of practicality and beauty, ensuring you enjoy the great outdoors while staying cool and shielded from the sun’s rays. A good example of one of our shade sails for gardens is “10'x10' (3mx3m) Glendale twin shade sail grey garden Gazebo”.

20 top UK shade plants for gardens

image of helleboresimage of hellebores

Introducing a selection of 20 exceptional shade plants for UK gardens, designed not only to thrive in shaded areas but also to create cooling havens of respite. These shade plants for gardens are not just shade-loving; they contribute to the creation of inviting, dappled retreats that enhance the overall appeal of your outdoor space.






Featuring low-growing foliage and spikes of blue flowers, Ajuga forms an attractive ground cover for shaded areas



With feathery plumes of flowers in shades of pink, white, and red, Astilbe adds elegance and vertical interest to shady beds



Featuring heart-shaped leaves and delicate blue flowers, Brunnera thrives in partial shade and adds a touch of charm



The Bellflower's delicate blooms grace shady beds with shades of blue, pink, or white



Commonly called Bleeding Heart, Dicentra's heart-shaped flowers on arching stems bring a touch of romance to shaded gardens


Dicentra spectabilis

A variety of Dicentra, spectabilis also highlights classic heart-shaped flowers in shades of pink and white



Known as Bishop's Hat, Epimedium offers dainty flowers and heart-shaped leaves that create a charming carpet beneath trees



Their graceful fronds and unique shapes provide a timeless and tranquil atmosphere to shaded areas


Geranium macrorrhizum

The Cranesbill Geranium's aromatic foliage and colourful blooms bring a cheerful and fragrant note to shaded areas



Blooming in late winter or early spring, Hellebore offers subtle beauty with its downward-facing flowers in various shades



Also known as Coral Bells, Heuchera boasts colourful foliage that lights up shaded spots, enhancing visual appeal



Known for its large, bold foliage that comes in a variety of colours and textures, Hosta brings a lush vibrancy to shaded corners



With its silver- or gold-flecked foliage and colourful flowers, Lamium brightens up shady spots and adds texture



With striking foliage and tall, yellow blooms, Ligularia adds a bold and vibrant presence to shaded areas



With its cascading plumes of pink or white flowers, Persicaria adds movement and softness to shady corners



Also known as Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum features arching stems and delicate bell-like flowers for an enchanting touch



Nicknamed Foamflower, Tiarella features delicate blooms and intricate leaves, providing a textural dimension to shady beds



With its airy spikes of greenish flowers, Tellima adds a light and airy quality to woodland settings


Vinca minor

Also known as Periwinkle, Vinca minor features evergreen foliage and cheerful blue or white flowers for year-round appeal


Geranium macrorrhizum

The Cranesbill Geranium's aromatic foliage and colourful blooms bring a cheerful and fragrant note to shaded areas


As you explore the various garden shade ideas, you will discover that creating shaded areas goes beyond providing respite from the sun. These garden shade structures offer more than just added shade; they create inviting spaces for relaxation, turning your garden into a private oasis. With options like pergolas and garden rooms, you can add both shade and extra seating in a stylish way. So, whether you seek refuge under a canopy or amidst shade plants for gardens, your garden becomes a serene and shaded private place for endless enjoyment.


Leave us a comment!

Have you got any other suggestions for producing shady areas in the garden? If so, please feel free to leave a comment down below – we’d all love to hear your thoughts. Why not check out our outdoor living section too, so you can see Shedstore's full product range? Be sure to join us next week, for a further instalment of Shedstore’s famous blog.

Contact Shedstore - your garden's best friend!

We hope you have enjoyed our garden shade ideas. If you need further advice about outdoor shade options, and which garden shade solutions to buy, we can help. Contact Shedstore for support in these ways:

  • Call us - dial 0333 003 0518
  • Emails - share your questions through our contact form
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