The Outdoor Find That’ll Turn Your Side Yard Into a Shady Escape


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On the brink of a heat wave, we can’t help but be consumed by thoughts of shade: Where to find it, when to move with it, and, most important, how to create it on our own. An umbrella is usually the first tool you think of when you’re craving coverage, but news flash: The really sturdy and stylish kind can get expensive (Serena & Lily’s beloved pagoda umbrella is a cool $1,300). That’s where shade sails come in. 

All you need are three to four points of connection (a facade wall, a fence, or some other post), around $100, and a deep contempt for being hot. On their own, shade sails might not look all that appealing. They’re essentially large triangular or rectangular canopies—usually beige—made from dense, UV-blocking polyethylene fabric. But when hung at interesting angles or layered over one another to create a long stretch of shade, the coverings can turn an underutilized or blah gray concrete side yard into a serene escape. 

Photography by Aaron Bengochea

We mention the side yard because these sails often measure 8 feet long, give or take, making them perfect for narrow areas. (Although that’s not to say you can’t hang one over a deck or backyard patio.) For shady side yard inspiration, look no further than this L.A. landscape design by Anand Sheth.

The architect mounted shade sails in key hangout spots: one over the dining table and another over the sofa so those areas are actually comfortable during the daytime. Get yours before the thermometer reaches triple digits.

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