Column: Generating appropriate shade to relax, escape



The featured project speaks to many luxury outdoor living trends from the need for shade to the love of employing natural materials. This hidden patio feels peacefully secluded from the rest of the property. It’s nestled off the side of the house, not necessarily easy to get to and is recessed into the grade by three substantial cut-limestone slab steps. And it’s perfect. Exactly what the homeowners wanted to experience when we planned this escape from reality for them. It’s their place to manage a little down time from the kids, read a book and enjoy a glass of wine.

Shade Strategies 

How to generate appropriate shade is perhaps the most frequently asked question we respond to. Of course shade trees are very effective, but waiting several years for impact is typically not preferred. Umbrellas are fantastic too, and we employ them often, but can get in the way.

Often, it’s a combination of strategies that bring the hoped for shade and the structurally sound pergola is a preferred tool. A well-planned pergola can echo architectural details from the interior of the home serving to blend the spaces together. It can formalize an area or naturalize it based upon construction details and paint palette. But mostly it simply creates a nice dappled shade area that travels with the path of the sun.

This pergola serves to create the sense of space that we often refer to. It offers a ceiling and boundary to the patio and provides a marvelous structure for a wisteria to spread itself on.

Expect to see creative shade creating innovations from brilliant minds across the globe in the next few years. Sure, we love the sun and the happiness a few hours absorbing those nutrients provides. But we also love our skin and being healthy requires fewer sunburns and more dappled shade.