Ojai summers are hot and dry with July and August being the hottest and driest months of the year. This does not keep folks from getting outside to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, but it does mean that most folks are seeking out opportunities to cool off in the shade whenever possible.
While the air temperature is not actually cooler in the shade than it is in the sun, it generally feels 10 to 15 degrees cooler when you are out of the sun because you are not being bombarded with solar radiation. This is why working outside in the sun on hot days is nearly unbearable but relaxing on your covered patio with a glass of iced tea feels perfectly fine.
Now in our third year of navigating life during a pandemic, most of us are ready for life to get back to some version of normal. For many, this includes an increasing number of social gatherings and hanging out with friends more often and with fewer protocols in place. One way to reduce risk while sharing time with friends and family is to do it outside.
So, let’s look at ways to create shaded oases where you and your guests can escape the sun’s radiation and enjoy time together in your outdoor living areas.
Use existing structures.
The cheapest, fastest way to create a shaded seating area is to simply move your patio furniture into the shade created by an existing wall or fence.
Another inexpensive, quick way to add shade to your yard is to place one or more umbrellas around your patio.
Add a solid roof or pergola.
If your budget allows for a bigger home improvement project, consider adding a solid roof structure to your outdoor living area. If this project seems too big or expensive, a pergola is another attractive option that can have its shade-producing capacity enhanced by adding a fabric cover.
Install shade sails.
I just added a shade sail from the roof of my covered deck to the fence, and I love how it both blocks the sun and obscures the view from my neighbors’ second-story window. Shade sails are affordable and available in lots of colors and sizes, so this a versatile option that is going to work for most backyards.
Hang patio curtains.
If you already have some type of roof structure over your outdoor living area, you can increase the shade while also enhancing privacy by hanging patio curtains.
Install an awning.
Awnings protect from both sun and rain and are available in stationary and retractable styles.
Use temporary canopies.
Pop-up canopies are easy to store when not in use and usually take just minutes to set up. This makes them perfect for impromptu playdates or creating multiple seating areas to give partygoers room to spread out.
If you need to bring in a professional to help create shade in your yard by hanging shade sails or building a pergola or other roof structure, remember to support the local economy by using local contractors.
AimeeJo Davis-Varela is a member of The Davis Group and a freelance writer specializing in real estate, sustainable home improvement, eco-friendly landscaping, green living and travel writing. She is also the owner of Mind Your Manors, which provides second home management services.
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