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Three tips to keep your yard out of the sun, in the shade

You too can have it made in the shade. Here are three options for having shade in your yard, depending on your budget and inclination.

Plant a tree: Planting a tree today won't give you shade this summer, unless you get a large specimen. These are older trees grown for the landscape trade. They aren't often seen at garden centers because they demand too much space on display and are very hard to move because specimens are grown in a wooden box rather than a plastic nursery pot. Special-order large trees through an independent garden center. If you pay a landscaper to safely transport and plant these big trees for you, there is less risk of mistakes — and you're spared the heavy lifting.

Shade sails: Shade sails are large, triangular panels of shade cloth that are stretched overhead to create patterns of shade. They are the cheapest of these three shade options. They require very solid structures or posts for support and a tight stretch to eliminate sag. Shade sails are also made in other shapes, but triangles are the most popular. They are available at most home-improvement stores. Shade sails are hung on cables with turnbuckles that may be gradually tightened as the fabric and cables stretch over time. The best part is that they're easily taken down for storing.

You'll need lag bolts to create a point of attachment at the building.

Shade arbor: Landscapes that feature outdoor cooking and dining areas almost always include a shade structure. These constructed elements require a skilled contractor or family handyman to build them out of lumber on footings secured underground. The cost of an arbor demands attention to design for interesting details at connection, around the posts or the tips of overhead beams.

Whenever possible, design your arbor to match the house style and colors so that it blends into the landscape. An arbor with widely spaced heavy beams won't cast much shade, so many people plant vines at the posts to climb up and overhead. But vines create litter and other problems, so try to lower maintenance by having a seasonal shade-cloth addition worked into the structure.

A cheaper way to increase arbor shade is to apply rolled reed fencing to the top. Then a beautiful striped pattern of deeper shade is cast upon the paving below.

In general, be aware of the sun's arc during midsummer, which can be very different from that of the winter months. This orientation is key to locating your tree, anchoring shade sails or aligning the overhead members of an arbor to best shade the spaces below.

Three tips to keep your yard out of the sun, in the shade 09/13/13 [Last modified: Friday, September 13, 2013 9:25am]
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