Put up an awning. Awnings are simple structures, usually constructed of canvas or plastic stretched over a metal frame, that extend off the roof over a door, building front, window or deck. Awnings are very effective at cooling the shaded areas they cover; they can reduce temperatures by 10 to 15 degrees or more. Awnings are available in an endless array of colors, to match the paint and siding on any home; sizes, to cover the smallest to the largest deck or patio; and styles, from contemporary to classic. There are even retractable awning systems which can be custom made and professionally installed, and come with multi-year warranties.
Try a pergola, arbor or trellis. These are structures usually constructed of wood and consist of latticework suspended between posts. Usually, climbing shrubs, flowering or fruiting vines and creeping plants are trained to grow over the lattice. Pergolas, arbors and trellises provide shade and add visual interest to outdoor spaces. You can pay to have your outdoor structure built, or those who are carpentry-inclined can try building the furniture themselves. How-to guides are readily available online, and the project could be completed in a few days.
Plant shade trees. Their leafy canopies provide natural protection from the sun, and an additional bonus is that shade trees reduce the expense of cooling a home. Elms, oaks and maples are among the most popular shade trees, but bear in mind that trees take years to reach full height and maturity, so you may have to purchase mature trees. They are more expensive, but they can provide shade immediately instead of years down the road. Take care not to plant trees too close to the house, where roots may damage the home’s foundations and their canopies may catch fire from chimney sparks.