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7 Patio Umbrella Alternatives (Benefits & Ideas)

Here we share our patio umbrella alternatives including different creative ideas, their benefits, and the reasons they can replace an umbrella for your patio.
Outdoor patio with umbrella shade, table, chairs, plants, and flowersStaying outdoors can just be the perfect way to enjoy nature but let’s face it, the sun’s heat can sometimes be unbearable. Getting some respite from the heat can only be possible by staying under a patio umbrella. 

A patio umbrella is the standard large umbrella you see in the backyard that’s paired with a couple of chairs and sometimes a table. Weights, usually attached at the top of the umbrella, add stability and ensure that it won’t fly away.

It is an affordable solution to the day’s scorching heat. The downside though is that it is not as effective against strong weather conditions like rain compared to other alternatives. 

If you’re not into patio umbrellas and are thinking about other alternatives you can use in your home for protection against the sun’s heat and rain, there are several to consider and explore.

Patio Awning 

House exterior with wood siding, and retractable awning as patio umbrella alternativeOne of the patio umbrella alternatives you can check out is a patio awning, which may date way back to the 1950s and at the same time deliver a rustic appeal.

Patio Awning Benefits:

Provides enough shade and protection against UV rays and other weather elements like snow and rain

Guaranteed to be a practical and versatile patio umbrella alternative 

Come in a variety of styles and designs

Contemporary awnings are pliable and softer and can even be longer-lasting depending on the material used. For a modern style, a retractable awning is a good option not just for an innovative style but also because of the convenience of rolling it up when not needed. 

One downside though is that it may come with a high price tag, especially fabric-type awnings. It is also not compatible with every home since some awnings may actually block the outdoor view of one’s home. 

Sail Shades 

Patio with deck, table, chairs, wood fence, and sail shadeSail shades come from ancient shades used centuries ago to keep the sun out and are considered in the past as a temporary shelter when on a journey. This simple-designed patio umbrella alternative is a good option to check out, especially because of the advantages you get from using it. 

Sail Shade Benefits

Simple to set up and won’t require special tools or materials just to install at home (Stakes and ropes are enough to get this alternative hanging)

Offers an enough coverage

Cost-effective and can be a good investment

Easily compatible with whatever style you have for your home

DIY possible (Triangle-shaped fabric with corner eyelets, rope/twine, poles/stakes, and even nearby trees can be used)

Sail shades have many benefits to consider but it’s not a durable option if you’re shielding yourself against rain or storm. A light drizzle is manageable though. 

Roof Overhang 

The roof overhang is another option you have for a patio umbrella alternative and is usually paired with an awning. In this option, you will need to construct a little roof over the patio of your home. It will take more work compared to other alternatives but you can guarantee to enjoy many advantages.

Roof Overhang Benefits:

Delivers an ample amount of area covered for most types of patios.

Offer a pleasant and relaxing patio experience

Provides more options and flexibility when using your patio

When you decide on a type of roof overhang though, there are drawbacks you need to know about. Building one will require more effort and it might not be the ideal option if you’re thinking about making it a DIY project because it could take up a lot of your time. 

Trees 

Patio area with trees, grassy area, sofa chairs, and deckIf you’re looking for natural and environmentally-friendly patio umbrella alternatives, nothing beats trees. It will be a great thing if you already have several trees planted in your yard so that you won’t have to start from scratch.

Tree Benefits:

Adds to the natural beauty and aesthetics of your yard and home

Provides enough natural shade and helps to keep your yard cooler

Offers a wide variety and types of trees to consider, from fruit-bearing ones to flowery ones but make sure you consider trees matching the climate of your location

When properly spaced, you can cover your entire yard

Trees take a lot of time to grow and actually serve as a shade so growing them will require patience. While transplanting fully-growth trees is possible, it will be a lot of work. What’s the best choice? Hire a professional to plant grown trees in our yard instead. It leads to less complication, effort, and money. 

Pergola 

Outdoor patio with pergola, stone tile flooring, table, chairs, and roof shadePergola is a bit similar to a gazebo but significantly less structure-like since it’s not a small building. This free-standing roof is worth considering and exploring if you’re going for more than just a shade but also a shelter. Typically, a pergola canopy has several posts to support the chosen pergola dimensions

Pergola Benefits:

Simple and easy to build despite being an entire structure (Might require some skills and planning though

Adds a nice touch to your yard

Can stand for a long time

Has enough area covered

When you choose a pergola though, make sure you’re not expecting the same aesthetics delivered by a gazebo. While they may be a bit similar, this patio umbrella alternative is a lot simpler. 

Gazebos 

Outdoor area with gazebo, table, chairs, hedge plants, and treesA gazebo is an entire structure that has a roof over it. Building one is more complicated and will require an expert’s touch. While similar to a pergola, it is closer to a pavilion in its essence. But make sure you have a spacious yard and patio size to accommodate this structure. 

Gazebo Benefits:

Features a more traditional and rustic appeal compared to a patio awning

Durable enough to stand other weather elements like strong wind and rain

Can serve as a great venue for events like parties

Gazebo designs offer aesthetics that stands out

If you choose a gazebo, DIY-ing means you need to have enough and the right carpentry skills to build one. Hiring someone to build it for you is the better option. 

Arbor 

Outdoor garden with arbor, hedge plants, and flowersArbor is among the patio umbrella alternatives that you can look into. Derived from herbe or herbere, a French word that means grass or herb, arbor traces its history back in the gardens of Romans and Egyptians up to the late 16th century homes in Europe. An arbor design structure is popular for its flowers or a vine-covered roof that may be arched or not. 

Arbor Benefits:

Can come as a freestanding structure (but not always)

Can also come in a DIY kit to make it easier for you to install

Flexible and can be made of vinyl, metal, or wood

Less expensive to build because it’s significantly smaller than a pergola and so would require fewer materials, less effort, and less time to build it

While usually interchanged with pergola in use, they are different from each other. It is smaller than a pergola but both use posts for support and climbing plants and vines in addition to both their functions and aesthetics.

See more related content in our article about the different stamped concrete patio on this page.

2 Comments

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  1. I bought wood lattice panels and set them up behind my favorite patio sitting area and grew clematis so it makes a real pretty back-drop. I like to sit out there in the late afternoon and it does a nice job of blocking the sun. Now it does get very sunny the rest of the day so I did use a umbrella during those times. Now my umbrella is broken so I’m looking for other ideas.

  2. I like the idea of using a living wall of plants for an umbrella I just worry that the water will damage my deck. Anyone have this issue?

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