Monday, June 21, 2010

Designing Trends - Shade

With spring ending and summer just around the corner, most homeowners have one thing on their mind in regards to their yard –SHADE!!! Yes we do live in the desert and gosh darn-it, it gets hot in the summer. One of the most common requests we get from clients is to have shade in their yard. There are 3 main ways to achieve shade in the residential landscape -- the use of shade trees, the use of shade structures and using existing structures for shade. Here in the summer, even the best designed outdoor rooms will be unused and uninviting if the element of shade is not addressed.

Using shade trees for shade can be very rewarding, successful and frustrating at the same time. Shade trees will have an organic feel with interesting shadow patterns as well as adding a possible habitat for wild life. Shade trees will change every year (grow, flower color, fall color….etc) and provide year round interest, but for a shade tree to be effective you will usually have to wait 4-7 years to get substantial shade. A south west facing entry can be very hot and uninviting but with a few shade trees and some time (5 years for the pictures here) it can become an old world, shady oasis.


A shade structure will give your yard instant shade and an architectural focal point, but will be substantially more expensive than a shade tree. There are several different kinds of materials and styles that could be used (wood vs. synthetics, solid vs. lattice, column accents, seat walls, built-in outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, etc.) to create the outdoor room of your dreams.

The easiest and most cost effective way to have your outdoor room in shade in the afternoon is to have an east facing back yard and take advantage of the existing residence to provide shade late in the day. If you are lucky enough to have this situation, a well designed outdoor space will not require additional shade late in the afternoon, but if you wish to have shade in the morning thru mid afternoon, the use of shade trees or a shade structure might be required.

When the summer heat hits, the use of a properly designed outdoor room will improve the living quality of the space and will add year round interest. Contact us to see how we can add shade to your yard now.

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