5 Great Shade Structures To Improve Your Yard


Creating inviting, comfortable outdoor spaces that can provide a much-needed escape is a priority for many homeowners. Adding a covered outdoor living area maximizes opportunities for relaxing and entertaining by providing protection from both sun and rain.

A shade structure can dramatically improve the appearance and function of any landscape. Of course, not all shade structures are equal. Umbrellas and awnings offer some protection from the elements, but nothing beats the convenience of a permanent structure designed specifically for your home and landscape.

Built structures also provide a return on your investment when it comes time to sell. Many buyers view outdoor shade structures as an additional room, sometimes a vitally important one too.

Enjoy the Outdoors in Comfort and Style

Whether you are seeking shelter from the sun or want to add character and style to your landscape, there are a number of options to consider. Let’s take a look at five shade structures that make practical and aesthetically pleasing additions to almost any yard.

#1. Gazebo

5 Great Shade Structures To Improve Your Yard

Gazebos are a classic outdoor structure with a solid roof and partially open sides, often with screening that offers protection from insects.

Adding a gazebo to your yard creates a covered seating area for reading, relaxing, or dining. A traditional gazebo has an octagon or oval shape and may or may not include built-in seating.

In addition to providing shade, gazebos can take an empty space and complement it with the home from an architectural perspective. As a result, they are often the centerpiece of a well-designed garden landscape.

#2. Pavilion

5 Great Shade Structures to Improve Your Yard

A pavilion is a roofed structure with open sides that sometimes resemble gazebos. Traditional pavilions punctuate public parks to offer many of the same benefits of a gazebo in terms of shade but their larger stature makes them visibly less intrusive. They are a good option if you desire clear sightlines across your landscape.

Pavilions can easily be designed to function as true outdoor living spaces with the addition of outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, or bars. If you have the yard space, a pavilion provides a great outdoor area for dining, relaxing, and other activities throughout the changing seasons.

#3. Pergola

The first photo in this article is a pergola to the home, a popular open-air structure that provides both shade and architectural interest. Here is another example that is free-standing.

Landscape Structures For Activities And Personal Style

Pergolas usually include a lattice-style roof supported by posts and are typically used to cover and define larger areas, including patios or other outdoor seating areas. With the addition of shades, canopies, or trailing vines, pergolas can offer as little or as much shade as you desire.

Pergolas are a long-lasting architectural feature that can provide a contrasting interest to the existing stone, brick, or siding of a home.

Old world timbers are sought after materials for pergolas, especially for cross-beams that gently filter sunlight as the sun’s orientation changes throughout the day.

Pergolas may be attached to the primary residence or other structures, such as a pool house. More often they are free-standing on at least three sides as they frame views and horizons.

The visual weight of pergolas is typically achieved with equally substantial building materials. For this reason, they must be well-anchored in concrete footings to withstand Minnesota’s freeze-thaw conditions and occasional high winds.

#4. Solid Patio Covers

If you have an existing patio without a cover, adding a permanent, solid roof adds maximum protection from the elements.

There are a number of enhancements you can consider adding to patio spaces with a solid roof, such as ceiling fans, light fixtures, and entertainment systems.

Outdoor appliances and supplemental heating can make outdoor grilling a year-round activity even in Minnesota.

#5. Underdeck Ceiling

under deck room outdoor living

The space under a deck is often forgotten. If it is used at all its for storage, sometimes making the area even more visually unappealing.

The addition of an underdeck ceiling reclaims that space and turns it into a comfortable and attractive outdoor living room. With the installation of an underdecking system, the area under a deck is protected from sun, rain, and snow. Water is routed away from your home and out into the yard.

An underdeck room can function as a true outdoor living space with the addition of the right amenities. Homeowners are often incorporating an underdeck room when adding or replacing a deck but you can also have one added under an existing deck.

Designing Your Outdoor Structure

Regardless of which type of shade structure you choose, it’s important that it is designed to fit your home and landscape. The scale and style of any structure should be part of a balanced and thoughtfully crafted indoor/outdoor design.

To create the perfect shade structure for your yard, an experienced landscape architect can evaluate your property and discuss your specific needs. Working together with an experienced landscape design company ensures that the structure blends seamlessly with both your home and landscaping.

Get Help from the Pros

Architectural Landscape Design, Inc. specializes in custom-built outdoor structures. Our team of master carpenters has decades of experience interpreting architectural designs and bringing them to life.

We’d love to talk to you about options for your property. We’re confident we can create a design that will turn your project into a cherished outdoor living space.