12 creative & attractive shade structures and patio cover ideas such as DIY friendly fabric canopy, shade sails, simple pergolas, vines for sun shades , etc!
Many of life’s most blissful moments are when we spend time outside. Maybe it’s listening to bird songs on the deck, reading a book on the patio, or having a backyard bbq party.
Shade structures and patio covers are favorite garden and landscape design features to enjoy beautiful days outdoors to the fullest. There are many creative ways to build a shade structure using low cost materials such as wood, fabric, branches and even twigs!
* Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here .
An outdoor umbrella is the most simple patio shade cover. However, umbrellas are not the best solution for some outdoor spaces, and they might not be big enough to shade the areas you want.
Let’s explore some attractive and DIY friendly backyard and patio shade ideas. Hope you find them inspiring for your next home improvement project!
1. Grow a living shade canopy
Vines such as grape and climbing roses growing on a simple structure can make a lush and beautiful living shade canopy. ( Via Elmueble )
Deciduous vines can provide shade in late spring through early autumn, and when the weather get colder and leaves fall, more sunlight will come through on winter days.
You can support vines with trellises made from wood or metal, or simple pergola kits. ( Via Mr. Tripper )
You can even grow a living willow dome! Click here for tutorials and more ideas on DIY living structures!
2. Easy DIY fabric patio shade canopy
One of the easiest DIY patio shade ideas is a fabric canopy. Below is the video tutorial on how to use fabric with curtain rods to create a shade canopy.
You can also use an artistic mix of colors and patterns to create backyard shade structures and patio covers. ( Via Mi Casa Revista )
Here’s a tutorial by Vtwonen on how to create patio shade structures using fabric and PVC pipes. A little idea on improvement: PVC pipes can deteriorate in sunlight, consider using bamboo poles, 2×2 wood, or metal rebar to build similar outdoor shade structures.
3. Shade sails patio cover ideas
Shade sails are easy and versatile patio and backyard shade structures. There are many shade sail colors to choose from. You can also use different shapes such as triangles and rectangles, and overlap them in creative ways. Add string lights to them for magic evenings. ( Via Flores Artscape | Tenshon )
If you want to find out more about how to install shade sails, check out this DIY shade sail patio cover tutorial by House Tweaking.
4. Attractive shade structures with natural and free materials
Indigenous people all around the world have created shade structures from local native plant materials such as twigs, branches, bamboo, palm leaves, etc.
This woven twig or bamboo panel supported by cables looks so charming on an old farmhouse in Spain. ( Via Casa De Valentina )
In traditional buildings of the American southwest like this example above, a layer of smaller branches or saplings known as latillas or Latias (laths) covers the top of the Vigas (wood beams).
This timeless design looks beautiful in both modern and traditional gardens. Here is a modern patio with shade pergola. ( Via Est Living )
Another beautiful patio shade cover idea in a traditional Mediterranean farmhouse style via Lanacion.
5. Classic wood pergola shade structures
Pergolas are usually built by professional contractors. If you want to DIY, be sure to follow local building codes and safety practices. Here is a simple pergola plan you can use as a guide.
This elegant free standing pergola painted white looks timeless in any landscape design.
This rustic wood pergola attached to a wall makes this outdoor patio look so inviting.
You can also choose metal and wood pergolas or paint some part of a pergola a different color for a modern patio shade structure here.
6. Pergolas with fabric shade canopy
Below is a detailed DIY video by Sailrite on how to install retractable fabric shade canopy on a pergola.
There are so variations in fabric colors and sizes.
White and lighter color fabrics also reflect more sun and keep this patio cool in summer.
7. Retractable fabric shade canopy on cables
8. Shade cloth over wood pergolas
This patio cover is created by stretching sections of fabric or shade cloth like mini shade sails over a wood pergola.
You can also have just one piece of shade cloth stretched over a pergola frame. ( Via Karwei )
9. Corrugate metal aluminum patio cover shade ideas
Corrugated galvanized metal is a popular and low cost roofing material which are great for building shade structures, like this free standing pergola patio cover. ( Via Mobile Bay)
Here‘s a stylish porch shade structure attached to the house in modern farmhouse style.
10. Decorative metal shade structures
These metal panels with decorative cutout patterns also create beautiful shadows on walls and floors. The panels (from Parasoleil) we have used in landscape designs for our clients projects are very heavy, and require professional installation. But it is a great idea with lots of potential.
11. Outdoor fabric curtain shade ideas
Summer afternoon sun can be super hot, but coming at a lower angle. This is why in addition to shade canopies, curtains are great ideas for shade structures as well. They also add a lovely resort and spa vibe to a backyard. (Via BHG )
12. Add lights to shade structures
This outdoor kitchen is so inviting all day long. When evening comes, the string lights on the pergola make it an extra magical place.
You may also love: 10 easy and attractive outdoor lighting ideas with solar and LED lights.