non-big box store-type outdoor shaded seating areas
April 2, 2021 7:15 AM   Subscribe

We have a large yard and sunlight that chases us from place to place. It would be nice to have a little shade in specific seating areas throughout the medium-large property. What are some options that work in a rustic/rural setting, elegant but in a welcoming and peaceful (peaceful is important) way? Ideas?

I'm looking for pictures and ideas of ways to build shaded areas seating 2-4 people. I think I would like 3-4 different seating areas. I do not want the traditional 'patio set from Lowe's'- we have a spot like that on the deck. In the yard, which is a mix of woodland and garden and wild areas, it would be out of place.

We have seven Adirondack chairs and a couple of tables and chairs.

Looking for dappled sun as opposed to deep shade although if one of those areas was for rain that would be pretty cool.

The Materials At Hand:

-I have a lot of long lacey curtainy white things that I got at Goodwill that are pretty long and billowy and would be nice to sit under in the hot sun
-I have bits and pieces of cedar lattice
-I have a bunch of cedar siding
-I have six 8' cedar 2x4s, some 2x8 pressure treated planks, and a whole bunch of garden stakes and other miscellaneous bits of lumber, some pressure treated, most not.
-I have some bricks
-I have terracotta pipes (lots; they came with the house)
-I have most necessary tools
-I have several bags of builders sand
-I have a bag of those white rocks (like walnut sized?)
-I like traditional joinery but am a little afraid of my router but can power through
-I don't want the shelters to fall over, and will dig to set vertical posts, but the soil is rocky and I also don't want to cement anything in because that increases the workload. Nevertheless, I'm willing to dig and have a post hole hand tool.
-I have grape vines and some existing clematis as well as some incoming additional clematis and native honeysuckle.

Any ideas? Fantasies?
posted by A Terrible Llama to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is my fantasy spot. From your materials I would maybe add the gauze around as mosquito netting. If it's rocky/muddy you could use the rocks under the seating if necessary. You could also use the cedar instead of using trees.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:35 AM on April 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

I know of no built structure more pleasant to sit under than a nice shade tree, and I know of no tree that makes nicer shade than Paulownia tomentosa. I have three of them in my large back yard, planted in a triangle with twelve to fifteen metre spacing. Bought as poles maybe a metre and a half tall from the nursery, we planted them in 2003, 2006 and 2010, and this summer the shade from all three finally joined up into a continuous canopy.
posted by flabdablet at 9:45 AM on April 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Plant 3 trees that will someday support a frame for a woodsy space.

I would post 4 uprights, then put pipe through the tops and use that pipe as curtain rods for your billowy fabric. I'd go to Goodwill or similar (post to freecycle) for used tent(s) and make a 'rain-fly' for the structure. Tent poles are aluminum or fiberglass with elastic inside. Cut them to fit into hardware at the tops of the wood posts, with some arch; this makes them sturdier. Drape the top with tent fabric. If you have saplings to spare, they are awfully pretty as uprights, peel off the bark or it will destroy the fabric. I'd love to have a gossamer outdoor room, and it keeps skeeters out, too.

Or build a sturdy trellis and train the grapes over it; longer-term project.
posted by theora55 at 10:01 AM on April 2, 2021

This winter I cut down some willow for tomato poles. I gathered the longer off-cuts into a sheaf and left the cut ends in a bucket of water for several weeks. Spring is sprung, the leaves are just budding and there are stubby roots on the watery end. I'll plant them in a circle to start my pergola this w/e. If I had a vine and a different climate I'd interplant it.
posted by BobTheScientist at 10:45 AM on April 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just to be clear we're in a wooded, woodland setting and plant a lot of trees but can't plant in these spaces because, for example, we're talking about the southern part of the vegetable garden.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:22 AM on April 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

You could sew some sun sails that you attach to trees or poles. I'm not sure if the fabric you have would work for this purpose, but it may work if you don't leave them out in the rain.
posted by jraz at 11:41 AM on April 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Perhaps a canvas sunshade like this one from Wayfair. A beach umbrella would be more flexible but more of a disruption, style-wise.

The word gazebo brings up all sorts of "shade structures" these days. It may be worthwhile to remember that, once upon a time, such things were called "follys."
posted by SemiSalt at 12:12 PM on April 2, 2021

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