Patio furniture on a cozy little terrace.

How to add shade to your patio or deck on a budget

We all like to take advantage of our outdoor living areas during the summer months but sometimes the Australian sun can prove just a bit overpowering. Yet there are ways to add shade to your patio or deck that don’t have to involve major building works or huge financial outlay. Here are a few ideas for shading your outdoor living space without breaking the bank.


Adding an umbrella to your deck or patio space is one of the cheaper options for adding shade to your outdoor space, and also one that involves very little effort. While some of the more technologically advanced outdoor umbrellas can cost over $1000, a basic market umbrella can cost anything from $90 – $400, depending on your needs. Make sure you do a bit of research, measure the space you need to cover, and don’t necessarily go for the cheapest option, as this will often impact on the quality of the umbrella.

Alternatively, if you have an outdoor table with a hole through the middle, you might like to opt for a patterned beach umbrella, giving you the opportunity to add a distinctive touch to your patio or deck. There’s a huge range to choose from, including retro styles and colours right through to a more muted contemporary look. Similarly, prices can range from around $25 up to $200, dependent on the size and quality, so shop around before making your decision. After all, you don’t want your umbrella to fly away the very first time you use it!

Trees, plants & vines

Even if your patio or deck already has a roof, the sun can creep in at angles, particularly in the afternoon, which can make sitting outside uncomfortable. Installing a trellis and growing a vine, planting trees or placing pot plants in the appropriate spot is one of the most attractive and economical ways to enhance the shade on your outdoor space. But things to think about before you purchase anything include: the direction your patio or deck faces; the climate; and where you want the shade.

If you’re planning to grow a vine up a trellis, think about whether you can afford to block the winter sun, or perhaps a deciduous vine would be a good choice – such as Wisteria, Virginia Creeper or a decorative grape vine. Do some research on what grows well in your climate and what kind of conditions are required for the best results.

The same principles apply if you decide to plant a row of trees or pot plants as your extra shade, particularly so in the case of trees. You don’t want to end up blocking all your sun or having to deal with invasive roots next to your house, so make sure you talk to an expert before deciding on the best solution for your space.

A vertical garden

A vertical garden is not only a great way to add shade to your patio or deck, it can also provide a year ‘round source of edibles, such as veggies and herbs. And if you build it yourself using recycled materials, the biggest financial outlay will be the plants and the potting mix.

There are heaps of useful tips and ideas online for making your own vertical garden, with Pinterest being a good place to start. Or you can find the basics, like frames and hanging pots, from all major hardware stores, plus some excellent DIY guides.

Do consider planting veggies and herbs as part of your vertical garden, as it will not only provide shade but the joy of eating homegrown food throughout the year. To get you started, have a look at our post on turning your patio into a kitchen garden for some useful advice on 5 essential herbs to plant.

Shade sails

While installing a shade sail is not necessarily the cheapest way to add shade, most products provide 90% UV protection and have a 10–15-year lifespan, which can end up being fairly economical over time. There are a number of reasonably priced off-the-shelf options available, in which case you need to establish what you are going to attach them to and ensure that the attachments themselves are sturdy. If you are going to install a shade sail by yourself, taking an accurate measurement of the space before you purchase is a crucial step.

The other option is to purchase a custom-made shade sail, which is then installed by professionals and often attached to steel poles sunk specifically for the purpose. This can obviously become quite an expensive enterprise, particularly if the space you have to cover is large; however, custom sails not only provide you with exactly the shade you need, where you need it, you can also be assured that they are sturdy and won’t fly off at the merest hint of wind. They also offer 90% UV protection, a long lifespan, and many come with a 3–5-year warranty as well.

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