Make the most of your outdoor space with clever patio cover ideas that will extend its use all season long.
Whether you have a small patio, a compact deck or a large, spacious terrace, these garden ideas for extra shelter can make your outdoor space fully usable come rain or shine.
Patio covers can range from the simple to the more elaborate. An extra-large parasol or pop-up canopy will provide shade in a small space, and can be tucked away in a shed when not being used.
Or consider a fixed structure, such as a pergola or awning, if you want more permanent protection from the elements.
Patio cover ideas
The last couple of summers has seen us spend more time in our outdoor spaces than ever before, improving and investing in our patio ideas and gardens, so that they’ve become an extension of our homes. Adding extra shade coverage against the sun (or shelter from the rain) helps maximise the time we spend in our gardens, so they can be in use for longer than just the summer season.
‘Government guidelines advise that the safest outdoor shelters have at least 50% of their walls open,’ says Ginevra Benedetti, Ideal Home’s Deputy Editor, ‘so if in doubt, use this as a guide to ensure a well-ventilated, yet safe from the elements, outdoor shelter.’
1. Create a compact covered seating area
Make your outdoor space more usable by installing a wooden pergolato provide coverage for a patio seating area. A timber structure will provide shade from the sun and shelter from wind and with climbing plants trained to grow over it, the extra greenery will provide additional coverage as time goes on.
Add wow by painting a timber pergola dark grey or black. Dark colours will stand out against greenery and foliage and will make a seating area more of a focal point. Treating wood will also help to protect it against the elements for a longer-lasting finish.
2. Supersize a pergola to cover a large patio
To provide garden shade and shelter over a larger area, consider extending the size of a pergola so that it gives coverage over the entire patio area. A simple wooden pergola combined with lush greenery helps to enclose the space and create extra privacy if a garden is overlooked.
Using an overhead structure can also be a clever device that helps to break down a large outdoor space into smaller, more intimate zones - say for cooking, dining and relaxing. Suspending outdoor lighting and hanging greenery from the overhead timbers creates a natural divide that breaks the space up visually.
3. Keep it compact with a simple outdoor parasol
For a simple, fuss-free way of providing patio shade ideas, opt for an easy-up garden parasol. Choose a design that will complement the size and shape of your garden table - square or circular - making sure that it is large enough to provide shade for everyone seated.
Pole height should be tall enough so that people won’t have to stoop to sit under it, while a cantilevered design with a side pole won’t obstruct the view across the table and can be used independently of the table, although it will require a heavier base to keep it steady.
4. Train greenery to provide extra coverage
Give a patio pergola extra coverage by training climbing plants to grow over it. Opt for fast-growing climbers that will establish themselves quickly and provide coverage in as little as two years.
A rambling rose, is the ideal choice for growing over a pergola. It will usually flowers once a year to provide a blanket of coverage, bursting with colour and sweet fragrance. Alternatively for a no-fuss plant which does not require pruning, Virginia Creeper is ideal. This flowering vine grows quickly, and provides a brilliant splash of colour. Wisteria is another winning choice for a pergola.
5. Be clever with your planting choices
If you're planting up a patio area from scratch, it’s always worth factoring in a few shady areas with taller plants and trees strategically dotted around the space to provide shade from the sun at different times of the day.
Adding shade to an existing patio is easy to do using large potted plants or small patio trees that can be positioned to provide shade in areas where it’s lacking. Wheeled planters are a great option on paved patios, allowing plants to be moved around when they are in and out of flower, or shifted to provide extra shade in sunny spots.
6. Extend outdoor shelter with an awning
Provide shelter where you need it most, with a retractable awning that can be installed on the side of a property to give cover for a patio or courtyard. A brilliant option for spaces where a permanent covering isn’t required, at the press of a button it can be zapped in or out, providing instant shade when the sun is at its hottest, or tucked away out of sight when shelter isn’t needed.
A retractable awning like this one is controlled via a handy remote, with added extras that include integrated electric heaters and neat lighting strips that will illuminate the patio area after dark. Clever built-in vibration sensors will automatically retract the awning in windy weather.
7. Keep it chic with a co-ordinated design
For larger patios and terraces, an outdoor awning offers more substantial coverage than a standard-sized garden parasol. Choosing a design that suits the style of the property and the look of the garden is a must as it will be in use and on view for many years.
‘Awnings come in a variety of fabrics which allow you to find the colour, pattern and texture that’s right for you,' says Lisa Slack, Head of Product at Thomas Sanderson (opens in new tab). ‘So it’s worth thinking about what you like. Do you want a colour that matches your interior décor so your patio feels like an extension of your home? Or would you prefer something different to give your outdoor space its own identity?’
‘Awning fabrics come in a variety of plains, stripes and patterns. And you can also choose from a selection of bracket colours to ensure your awning suits your window and door frames for a cohesive look,’ adds Lisa.
8. Enjoy a clear view outside
A covered pergola at the back of a property is the perfect spot to enjoy the outdoors while still staying undercover. Opting for clear roof panels will allow maximum light in while still providing protection from direct sunlight or heavy rainfall.
Look for panels that have built-in UV protection which will help filter out the sun’s harmful rays and prevent patio furniture from fading in harsh sunlight.
9. Create shelter in different parts of the garden
Take advantage of a large garden to create different outdoor rooms where you can enjoy the sun, or escape from it if you’d prefer. A freestanding pergola can be installed in a spot that suits, whether that’s directly outside the house on a patio or on a paved area further along the garden.
A rotating louvred roof pergola like this one will provide shelter from the sun or rain, plus the option to open the slats fully should you want to soak up some rays. Slats are motorised for easy operation and the aluminium design means that maintenance is kept to a minimum.
10. Opt for an easy-up sail shade at the end of a garden
For a semi-permanent option that can be installed on a patio or deck at the end of a garden, consider a simple sail shade. Made from showerproof fabric, a sail shade will provide protection from the sun, shelter from wind and give an extra level of privacy if an outdoor space is overlooked.
Quick and easy to set up (and take down) sail shades are fixed in place using anchor points that are tensioned to keep it taut. They can be anchored to the side of a property, garden shed or a handily-positioned tree, or alternatively a freestanding frame or fixing poles can be used to allow a shade to be positioned away from the house if preferred.
11. Try a pop-up canopy for parties
For a non-permanent outdoor shade that’s perfect for parties and gatherings, try an easy-up sun canopy that makes a roomier and more elegant alternative to the average garden parasol.
Easily erected on grass or soft ground, its central pole goes up much like a standard umbrella or parasol, but the fabric side panels in each corner create extra coverage so it feels more like a mini gazebo. Striped fabric and natty fringing add a jaunty, nautical touch.
12. Install a mini outdoor dining booth
If outdoor space is tight and a patio shade just outside the house isn’t an option, then go further into the garden and create a shady, secluded spot where space allows.
This ready-made compact booth seats four people (or six at a squeeze) and makes the ideal spot to sit and have a quick cuppa or a bite to eat with friends. A timber frame helps any garden structure blend in with trees and greenery. While a stainless steel roof reflects heat so it won’t get hot and stuffy inside. This booth comes complete with built-in table, benches and cushions.
13. Take advantage of a shady spot
Set up table and chairs in a shady area so you can escape the heat of the sun when it’s at its hottest. Encouraging trailing plants such as wisteria, honeysuckle and clematis to spread up and over a pergola will provide extra coverage. All while creating a heady fragrance that can be enjoyed both indoors and out.
Climbing plant ideas near the base of each wooden pillar, angled towards the support using small canes to help bridge the gap. To cover the canopy quickly, train the shoots straight up the posts, using vertical wires or wire mesh as supports if necessary. Tie in new shoots to the cross beams and laterals as the plant grows.
14. Add sparkle to a patio after dark
Extend time outdoors on summer evenings by lighting up the patio with festoons and fairy lights. A timber pergola or outdoor shade makes the perfect place to drape strings of lights, creating an illuminated canopy that will make the space look magical after dark.
Use hooks to secure lights at each corner of a pergola, suspending strings diagonally in a criss-cross formation. Or alternatively, use single strings on each vertical to provide extra illumination for summer dining or evening parties outdoors.
15. Create a shady spot built for two
If a full-sized shelter isn’t an option, downsize and create a shaded garden seat with space for just one or two. A garden arbour makes a charming addition to a patio area or can be positioned further down the garden to create a feature focal point or nestled in amongst greenery as a garden hideaway.
What are the different types of patio covers?
There are many different types of patio covers to protect the area from the elements, ensuring it's useable come rain or shine. Patio cover ideas can range from the simple to the more robust. An extra-large parasol or pop-up canopy will provide coverage in a small space - and can be stored away when not in use. While a fixed structure, such as a pergola or awning, provides a more permanent protection from the elements.
How can I cover my patio cheaply?
A cheap, yet effective way to cover a patio is with a parasol or simple awning – both of which are functional yet moveable.
- Invest in a roof terrace canopy.
- Get creative with a fabric drape.
- Use what nature offers.
- Invest in an all year round cover.
- Natural materials for a cottage.
- Opt for a uniformed look.
- Be inspired by a holiday.
- Light up your parasol.
There are various types of materials that you can use to cover your patio. These range from outdoor fabrics, shade sails, wood pergolas, as well as aluminum and steel structures. You can also use awnings, canopies, retractable covers, and even create cabanas.How can I cover my patio for privacy? ›
You can add privacy to your patio with outdoor curtains, an overhead tarp, a canopy, a high fence, hedges, latticework, or a trellis and/or pergola covered in climbing ivy. Create a sense of privacy in a large open patio with a cabana-style seating area or an outdoor canopy daybed with curtains.How do you make a quick shelter? ›
The simplest shelter is a fallen tree that has enough room under it for you to crawl in. Lean branches against the windward side of the tree (so the wind is blowing into it and not against it) to make a wall. Make the wall thick enough to keep out wind.What can I make a shelter out of? ›
Start by building a rectangular frame from logs. Fill the frame with debris, such as dried leaves or pine branches. The debris will provide insulation that will prevent the ground from drawing heat away from the body. This is extremely important, as most body heat is lost through ground transfer.What is the least expensive patio cover? ›
Vinyl is among the most cost-effective patio cover materials; it can range from $5 to $13 per square foot (or anywhere from $2,520 to $6,300, Howard notes) and is durable and low-maintenance.Should patio covers touch the ground? ›
Did you know that outdoor furniture covers are intended to not touch the ground so air can properly circulate underneath the cover to prevent mold and mildew?How do you enclose a covered patio on a budget? ›
- Outdoor Curtains. Installing outdoor curtains is an easy yet cheap way to enclose your patio since they are known for their durability and ability to withstand harsh weather. ...
- Plants. ...
- Shades. ...
- Screens. ...
- Storm Doors. ...
- Plastic or Glass Panels.
- Install a Sunroom. ...
- Hang Clear Vinyl Walls. ...
- Enjoy Covered Pergolas. ...
- Build a Gazebo. ...
- Add Privacy With Curtains. ...
- Repurpose a Canopy. ...
- Hang Out Under an Awning. ...
- Try Porch Screens.
- Tarp: Lean-to shelter: For this type of shelter, you just need a lightweight tarp and some cordage. ...
- Tarp: A-Frame shelter: This is an A-frame style shelter. ...
- Cocoon shelter: This style of shelter is basically a pile of leaves or debris without any framework.
You won't be allowed to enter the shelter until the last second. Just stand by the shelter and wait for the time to run out. Ted will automatically jump in at the last second.What makes a good shelter? ›
There are many things to look for in a good shelter
Single rooms: only for animals that are absolutely incompatible with others. Exercise area: for dogs, so that they can fulfil their need to run around. Infirmary: for the care of sick animals.
- Emergency Shelters. The most common type of homeless shelter is emergency shelters; these exist since sometimes people lose their homes suddenly and unexpectedly. ...
- Women's Shelters. ...
- Youth Shelters. ...
- Family Shelters. ...
- Wet Shelters. ...
- Transitional Housing. ...
- Permanent Supportive Housing.
Shelters must provide protection from the elements, space to live and store belongings, privacy and emotional security. Blankets, mats, and tarpaulin must be provided as needed. Refugee shelter should be culturally and socially appropriate and familiar where possible. Suitable local materials are best, if available.What is the best material for a privacy screen? ›
This material is non-porous and water-resistant, thus making it an excellent choice for ensuring your privacy. Colorbond steel fences, in particular, are designed to resist corrosion, cracking, peeling, and chipping.
Install porcelain paving
Whether you are swapping out your old slabs or paving over a grass lawn, porcelain pavers are the ultimate low maintenance patio solution.
Sizes of patio covers can scale from smaller 15' x 15' or 10' by 20' footprints ideal for creating a small outdoor dining space or shaded relaxation space in the garden, to larger 12' x 36' or 15' x 30' spaces to encompass dedicated outdoor living, dining and cooking space.What is the longest lasting patio cover? ›
Aluminum Louvers Outlasts Other Patio Cover Materials
The material used to build it speaks to longevity and general upkeep. Extruded aluminum far outperforms patio covers manufactured from other materials prone to cracking, warping, rust, mold, and general wear and tear.
What Comes First: The Deck or The Patio? In an ideal world, you'll install your deck first and then your patio. There are a few reasons for doing it in this order. Starting with the fact that once the deck and stairs are complete, installing the patio at the perfect height is much easier.Should I insulate my covered patio? ›
Insulated patio covers have an advantage over uninsulated counterparts because they help keep your patio even cooler during those hot summer months. This patio cover is more sturdy and is a safer option when it comes to concealing electrical cabling for electrical appliances such as ceiling lights and fans.
Insulated patio cover
Yes, you can walk on the Insulated covers for maintenance purposes or for an Emergency Exit. However, it cannot be used as a deck. If there is going to be a ladder used on top of the cover it is advised that you use a 4′ x 4′ or larger piece of plywood down first to disperse the weight.
Gravel is the cheapest option when looking to create a patio on a budget. Otherwise, pebbles or reclaimed materials are also good options. If you're set on laying paving slabs, concrete is one of the cheapest materials, and when installed and maintained correctly, it can hold up well and last for years.What is the best DIY patio? ›
PAVERS are the best option
For a do-it-yourself patio, a simple square design with one size of pavers is a lot easier to install than one with various sizes and curves because you will not have to cut the pavers, which takes time and skill. Pavers are strong, inexpensive, and easy to install.
Although fences and brick walls can do the trick, adding an extra divider, screen or plant barrier can block your neighbor's two-story view for good. To create your secret retreat, freestanding privacy screens, wood slat partitions and partially enclosed pergolas are effective (and nice to look at).What is the cheapest way to enclose an outdoor area? ›
The cheapest way to enclose a patio is by making use of existing structures like walls, fences or sheds. What is this? You can also make do with a temporary option such as a tarp.Is it a good idea to enclose a patio? ›
Enclosing an existing porch or patio is the perfect way to add year-round functionality, value and space for what matters most to you. And doing so is more affordable than you might think, costing a fraction of what a new addition to your home would and adding just as much to its value.How much does it cost to build a 10x10 patio cover? ›
Prices stretch from $5,355 to a very custom $8,785 to get a basic, fully-covered 10 x 10 vinyl patio cover installed. DIY Solid roofed patio cover kits range from $2,520 to $6,020.What is the fastest growing plant for privacy? ›
The number one fastest growing plant for privacy is Bamboo, particularly clumping bamboo. It quickly creates lush and exotic privacy screen. For best growth, bamboo requires full exposure to sun and regular water. It is not well suited for dry environment due to its heavy water needs.How do you divert water from a covered patio? ›
You can install a swale or French drain, which channels the water away from the site to an area where it won't cause problems. You can divert water to another spot on your property but not to the neighbor's yard, so if you can't shift the water to a good location, you'll have to run a French drain to a dry well.What are outdoor shelters called? ›
Arbors, Pergolas, Gazebos & Pavilions.
- Cut out and remove the concrete slab from the garage floor, and dig down 28 inches.
- Build a wooden form around the excavated hole to create the walls and ceiling of the concrete storm shelter.
- Install metal rebar throughout the form to reinforce the concrete.
The first shelter that you can build is a lean-to shelter. A lean-to shelter is a great option as it is low cost and is not hard to build. The basic materials you need are branches for the frame, something to lean the frame upon such as two trees or a wall, and a tarp or coverage to cover your frame.
Look for a natural shelter, such as a rock overhang or a thick stand of evergreens. The site should be dry and well drained and should offer protection from the wind. Ideally, it also should be near water and plenty of firewood.