An important feature of any Australian garden is a cool and shady space to relax and enjoy nature while being protected from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays.
Creating shade can be achieved by either hardscaping with man-made structures or softscaping with living plants, or a combination of the two.
Hardscaping provides a framework for your landscape and will define areas for entertainment, relaxation and activity, while also ensuring proper drainage and reducing erosion. Meanwhile, softscape elements add colour, beauty, privacy and shade, as well as supporting the ecosystem and local wildlife.
There are many ways to create more shade with hardscaping. Shadecloths come in all shapes and sizes and work well over decks and swimming pools. Pergolas and trellises are another popular method, and can be combined with climbing plants to give a shady space for outdoor living. These items are fixed, while a parasol or umbrella is a temporary way to bring shade when needed.
Softscaping for shade
Living plants move and change over time, unlike hardscape elements like walls, paving and fences. Trees provide ideal coverage without blocking too much sun and an experienced horticulturist can recommend the right kind of trees for your space and micro-climate, depending on the effect you wish to achieve. Smaller shrubs and flowering plants will also grow to provide colour and shade, and can be trimmed as needed.
Environmental and health benefits
As the earth heats up it is becoming ever-more important to create cool urban sanctuaries wherever possible. Creating shade reduces glare and UV radiation and can help you save on energy. According to the Cancer Council, shade alone can reduce UV radiation exposure by up to 75%, which helps protect your skin from the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers.
Another benefit is that weeds are less likely to grown in shaded spaces, making them easier to monitor and eliminate.
Shade with plants or man-made structures will also provide screening to add privacy to your garden oasis. You may consider a vertical garden that adds a lush element to your wall or fence, or fast-growing Australian natives that provide year-round shade and privacy.
Moving with the sun
Of course your shady space may move with the daily journey of the sun, and depend on the orientation of your site. North-facing gardens are likely to have the area close to the house in shade for most of the day. East-facing gardens tend to favour morning sun, while west-facing gardens are sunnier in the afternoon and evening. Your landscape expert can assist in designing softscaping or hardscaping to customise a solution for the needs of your site and your lifestyle.
At Petstra Gardens we love to combine both hardscape and softscape elements to create a shady haven in any garden space. Our knowledge of trees, shrubs and flowering plants as well as our construction expertise can assist you in building your shaded area for a lifetime of outdoor pleasure.