It may be hard to believe, as we continue to face grey days, but spring and summer are just around the corner and you\u2019ll be spending more time enjoying your backyard soon enough. If you\u2019ve suffered in past summers with intense heat and unrelenting sun, you might be looking for ways to add shade to your backyard.\r\n\r\nHanging an awning over your deck or patio seems like an easy solution, but there are multiple drawbacks.\r\n\r\nThe wet, heavy snow and strong winds of winter can put major wear and tear on your awning.\r\nContinuous exposure to sunlight will also cause the material to weaken and fray over time.\r\nThick canvas material covering your seating/entertaining area can limit air flow and cool breeze.\r\nRetractable awnings are an option but they can be expensive.\r\nInstead, we recommend another backyard shade solution... the pergola!\r\n\r\nWhat is a Pergola?\r\nA pergola is a simple outdoor structure designed with four posts that support a roof that\u2019s built from wide rafters that run in one direction and thin purlins that run in the opposite direction. The rafters and purlins are positioned in a way that they redirect the sun\u2019s rays and create shade below. Pergolas are not designed to completely block the sun like an overhead awning would, but they provide relief from direct sunlight while allowing breezes to circulate freely.\r\n\r\nNot only are they an easy way to instantly provide shade, if you don\u2019t have a patio or deck in your backyard, they also help to create a defined entertaining or gathering space and offer privacy.\r\n\r\nAmp Up Your Pergola to Add Even More Shade\r\nA simple pergola design will do\u00a0wonders for creating a shady space. But, you can customize your pergola design to maximize the shade in your backyard entertaining area.\r\n\r\n1. Lattice Roof\r\nA lattice roof design, where the purlins run horizontally and vertically and create a tight grid, let less sun shine through. This is a simple design choice that provides increased shade.\r\n\r\n2. Add a Canopy or Curtain\r\nIncrease not only your shade but also your privacy by adding a retractable canopy or side curtain. They can slide into place when it\u2019s necessary and retract easily when it\u2019s not.\r\n\r\n3. Climbing Plants\r\nWhen you plant climbing vines and plants around the base of your pergola, they will attach and grow around the posts and along the roof. The good news is that most climbing plants are quick growers, so you won\u2019t need to wait for years to see the beautiful effects. A few climbing plants to try, include:\r\n\u2022 Clematis\r\n\u2022 Golden Trumpet\r\n\u2022 Morning Glory\r\n\u2022 Wisteria\r\n\r\nCheck out our gallery of wooden and vinyl pergolas for inspiration to add shade to your backyard!