patio shades in amarillo tx

Pergola Shade Ideas: Best Ways to Add Shade to a Pergola

Pergolas are a delightful addition to any home, offering an open space to relax, entertain, and enjoy the outdoors. During the summer, the charm of a pergola may be overshadowed by the need for shade. A recent survey by the National Association of Landscape Professionals found that 77% of Americans spend time in their yard at least once a month. Homeowners, therefore, are seeking ways to extend usability in their outdoor spaces, beginning with how to add that much-needed shade to a pergola. In this guide, we’ll explore the best ways to effortlessly add shade to your pergola, adding comfort to your outdoor experience.

Importance of Shade for Your Pergola

Before we discuss why you should add shade to your pergola, it’s worth understanding why it’s so important. Pergolas add stunning design to your yard and serve as a functional transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces, which is excellent for relaxing and socializing until the sun comes out. In the later afternoon, when the sun is at its peak, consider adding shade to escape the heat. Adding shade will protect your outdoor furniture and loved ones from harmful UV rays.

The addition of outdoor shade offers several benefits:

  • Weather protection: Protecting your outdoor space from rain and light winds increases the ways you can use your outdoor space.
  • UV protection: Keep your family safe from the sun’s harmful rays. 
  • Temperature control: Adding shade to your pergola will make it more comforting and inviting while helping you save money on energy costs.
  • Protect furniture and decor: Save your furniture and decor from harmful sunlight that fades and damages them. 

Now that you understand how to add shade to your outdoor pergola, here are the best pergola shade ideas.

Best Ways to Add Shade to a Pergola 

There are numerous ways to add shade to a pergola, each with advantages and considerations. Here are the best ways to add shade to your pergola, from the most accessible to the most complex.

Shade Sail

What is it? Shade sails come in triangular or square shapes and are made of cloth. Draw these from end to end of your pergola to create a floating canopy.

Installation: Relatively simple. Just attach the sail with anchors to the pergola.

Cost Estimate: Varying based on material and size, but it is usually a low-cost option.

Pros and Cons: Versatile and stylish, but can be less durable in extreme weather conditions.

Add a Pergola Roof

Pergola with Roof

What is it? Turn your pergola into an enclosed space by adding a permanent roof.

Installation: It will require a professional to install since it will require structural work.

Cost Estimate: This is likely the most expensive due to the required materials and labor.

Pros and Cons: It provides the most coverage and can be integrated with your home’s roof. However, because it’s a more permanent structure, you might lose some of your pergola’s original character.

Climbing Plants

Pergola Plants

What is it? Climbing plants like vines create a natural, living shade solution.

Installation: Simply plant the climbing plants and help guide them to cover the pergola.

Cost Estimate: Low-cost, but climbing plants require time to grow and maintain.

Pros and Cons: Offers a beautiful, natural shade. However, the plants could take years to cover the pergola fully.

Pergola Canopy

Pergola Canopy

What is it? A pergola canopy is typically made of fabric and is retractable, making it easy to use when needed.

Installation: Depending on the complexity of the canopy design, this can be a DIY project or a professionally installed one.

Cost Estimate: Fabric canopies can be more affordable, especially if installed by the homeowner.

Pros and Cons: It provides shade and can open or close depending on the weather. However, fabric canopies may need to be replaced over time.

Pergola Tent

Pergola Tent

What is it? A pergola tent is more enclosed than a pergola canopy, creating more of a room-type space.

Installation: Often requires a professional to install.

Cost Estimate: It can be priced higher than a pergola canopy.

Pros and Cons: Offers an entire enclosed space for your pergola, providing privacy and shade. However, removing it can be difficult if you don’t want the additional shade.

Retractable Solar Shades

patio shades in amarillo tx
Eclipse Sun Shades

What is it? Solar shades use PVC mesh to block the sun’s harmful rays without fully blocking your view.

Installation: This can often be a DIY project, though larger installations may require professional help.

Cost Estimate: It is mid-range as far as costs go, but it largely depends on its size and material quality.

Pros and Cons: Solar shades are excellent for maintaining the view from your pergola while reducing glare and exposure to UV rays. However, they may not be fully waterproof and could be prone to tearing.

Louvered Roof

Louvered Pergola Roof

What is it? A louvered roof system consists of adjustable panels that can be opened or closed depending on the shade you prefer.

Installation: It requires a professional due to the complex mechanics involved.

Cost Estimate: One of the more expensive options due to its advanced design.

Pros and Cons: Completely customize your pergola shade with a louvered. However, it requires regular maintenance and is likelier to break down than other, more straightforward options such as sails or canopies.

Natural Shade

Pergola Natural Shade

What is it? Plant trees or build your pergola next to a large shade tree.

Installation: Requires suitable trees and positioning of the pergola accordingly.

Cost Estimate: The most affordable option, but you’ll have to wait for the trees to grow.

Pros and Cons: Offers the most natural and environmentally friendly shade solution. However, the time it takes to grow can be a drawback.

Retractable Awning

What is it? A retractable awning extends from the side of your home or pergola.

Installation: A professional must install it since it is attached to the home.

Cost Estimate: Mid to high, depending on the size of the awning and materials used.

Pros and Cons: Awnings provide excellent shade and can be easily stowed away for sunnier days. They do, however, require regular cleaning and maintenance.


Pergola Umbrella

What is it? Large patio umbrellas can be either free-standing or mounted to your pergola.

Installation: A simple DIY task.

Cost Estimate: Relatively inexpensive, making them a popular choice for quick and easy shade.

Pros and Cons: Umbrellas are portable and can be moved to add additional shade where necessary. However, they are not very stable in windy conditions, and it can be a nuisance to move them around constantly.

Pergola Curtains

Pergola Curtains

What is it? Curtains are made from weather-resistant material and can easily be hung on the side of your pergola.

Installation: Easily install with hooks or on rods.

Cost Estimate: One of the lower cost options.

Pros and Cons: Curtains add elegance to any pergola and can be drawn back for more sun exposure. They require regular cleaning and may need to be replaced over time.

Pergola with An Arbor


What is it? An arbor with climbing plants is a great way to offer a natural shade solution.

Installation: Somewhat complex, especially for larger pergolas, and requires maintenance.

Cost Estimate: Mid-to-high due to the cost of materials and maintenance over time.

Pros and Cons: They offer a beautiful, utterly natural shade solution and beautifully frame your pergola. However, they require patience and regular maintenance.

Each pergola shade will work, but choosing the right solution depends on your preferences and budget.

Which Pergola Shade Idea Should You Choose?

With the right shade solution, your pergola can make your backyard the ultimate hangout spot. Whether you decide on a DIY-friendly shade sail or an intricate louvered roof, making the space your own is critical. Each of these shade options offers its own advantages and considerations, so take the time to evaluate your space, needs, and personal style before making a decision. Whether planning to host dinner parties, create a creative reading nook, or simply create a more relaxing outdoor space, a shaded pergola is the best place to start.

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