Cool Shade
May 28, 2006 5:21 PM   Subscribe

The deck / patio on my mother's house is completely exposed to the sun and umbrellas haven't been working as shade providers. The wind breaks them. Or they provide insufficient shading. Besides building a roof over the deck, what else can we try to turn her deck into a nicely shaded space?
posted by Aghast. to Home & Garden (18 answers total)
You could try a rolling awning. They're operated on booms that unroll; when you're done with them, you simply push a button (or if you have a manual one you roll it back up manually.)

When we had the same issue, we just bucked up and built an arbor roof. That involves building a frame and putting a bunch of wood in rows above the frame. This is an elaborate one. Here's a simpler one.
posted by SpecialK at 5:26 PM on May 28, 2006

Best answer: What sort of climate does she live in? Certain varieties of grape vines work well. String taught wires across the top of the area, and down the sites as well if the sides don't already have walls. Train climbing vines up the walls and across the top. You will get wonderful green shade in summer, while in winter, the vines are deciduous and the sunlight will be let in to help warm the area. This solution may not be appropriate for your circumstances - but it is an alternative to a roof. Wisteria can also be good. See what might be appropriate for your area.
posted by Jimbob at 5:28 PM on May 28, 2006

(Those vines would go great over SpecialK's arbor roof, by the way.)
posted by Jimbob at 5:29 PM on May 28, 2006

Have you thought of planting some trees? You can get trees that are more than saplings installed.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 5:53 PM on May 28, 2006

Second the grapes on taut wires idea. Fantastically cool underneath in the summer, and the sun gets through in the winter.

Clematis is another option.
posted by Rumple at 6:19 PM on May 28, 2006

Hops also work if you're in the right climate.
posted by SpecialK at 6:58 PM on May 28, 2006

I would second SpecialK in the retractable awning. My parents had one on their old house and it worked great. It did get windy sometimes and I thought half the house was gonna blow off if the awning went, but it always held up quite nicely. Lots of restaurants have them here in NYC too, and they appear to be quite strong. I would recommend an automatic one because rolling up a manual one is stressful, to say the least, when it's windy and you think half your house is going to blow away.
posted by savagecorp at 7:19 PM on May 28, 2006

stolen from elsewhere... [try] A brise-soleil (a sun shading device), evolved by Le Corbusier in one of his earlier studies and conceptual design of a skyscraper in Algiers in 1938. (French: “breaks the sun”) Sun baffle of vertical or horizontal louvers outside the windows or extending over the entire surface of a building's facade.
Many traditional methods exist for reducing the effects of the sun's glare, such as the projecting upper-story window of latticework (mashrabiyah or mushrabiyah) used in Islamic architecture, pierced screens as used at the Taj Mahal, or blinds of split bamboo (sudare) as used in Japan.
posted by Gungho at 7:19 PM on May 28, 2006

I have an arbor built on top of my deck, with a silver lace vine and 2 hops vines growing over it. The silver lace vine grows about 20 feet/year and the hops vine is only slightly less robust. By August when the heat is the worst, they completely cover the arbor and provide a nice shady green cave.

I believe that there is a new version of the silver lace vine out called "lemon lace" that might be even better.

The biggest drawback is that the vines do shed leaves in the fall and they have to be trimmed back every spring.
posted by Ostara at 7:48 PM on May 28, 2006

I'm looking to do the same thing, but giving it a solid roof, in order to protect the deck/bbq from the rain 6 months a year up here in Oregon.

So far I've had luck looking online for porch plans, since a solid arbor/pergola is considered the same as a front porch, and I'm currently looking for a local builder to put it together for me.
posted by mathowie at 8:00 PM on May 28, 2006

If you want something that doesn't require major building, or works temporarily, Costco actually sells a number of gazebos. These include fairly simple ones with minimal metal skeletons and canvas roofs. My mom bought one, hauled it to our house in our four door car, and she and my father put it together in an afternoon. It's survived winds and rains that have shredded umbrellas (but in LA, so no idea about snow.)
posted by synapse at 8:49 PM on May 28, 2006

I can't find a picture of it, but one design I've always admired for it's ingenuity is a kind of arbor roof like the one in SpecialK's link.

The key difference is that the timbers at the top are angled in such a way that when the sun is at its height in summer, no sunlight passes through. The shade provided by each board overlaps.

During cooler months, and during the mornings and late afternoons of summer, the lower-angle sunlight can pass between the angled timbers.

It has the advantage of not having any moving parts, but would probably require some careful planning to construct.

Also, it won't keep the rain off.

You could build something like that and grow grapes on it as well. Even with incomplete vine cover the arbor would still provide shade.
posted by Ritchie at 8:57 PM on May 28, 2006

Hey! I recently posted a question that might help your mother's problem!
posted by SwingingJohnson1968 at 9:10 PM on May 28, 2006

Response by poster: SwingingJ: I said no umbrellas. The solar winds will just break them. But if you do put one up there, I would like to request that my mom be able to adjust it for her comfort.

I really like the taut wire and vine idea. We already have vines crawling up the walls beside the patio. Perhaps I can redirect them.
posted by Aghast. at 9:55 PM on May 28, 2006

Would a shade sail be suitable? I'm surprised no one else has mentioned this possibility, are these unpopular in the generously ozone blanketed Northern Hemisphere? They're very common in New Zealand.

Here's a page with some example photos, even more here.
posted by The Monkey at 11:08 PM on May 28, 2006

Second The Monkey's post. We used these in our old house and they were great. Ours were made by Moss, which seems to have merged with MSR. They're lightweight, ripstop nylon, and despite the somewhat exaggerated shape in the photos, you can set them up however you want with the poles and the guywires.
posted by hugo at 4:27 AM on May 29, 2006

We have a full retractable awning on our house. The only time it's extended all the way (12 ft) is when we're actually using the deck. Currently, it's extended about a foot, which shades the side of the house and the house edge of the deck -- just doing that cools the house off about 3 degrees. We looked at shade sails, but they didn't seem to be big enough (the deck is 20x20). We may still put up an arbor/wire and vine construct, but the growing season isn't really long enough for an annual vine to grow enough to cover the deck, and it'll take years for a temperate hibiscus to get big enough.
posted by jlkr at 5:26 AM on May 29, 2006

Response by poster:
The wires are in place and the vines are trained on them. Now all we need is for the vines to groW!

posted by Aghast. at 6:14 PM on July 2, 2006

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