Throwing Shade: Design Elements for a Lower SPF | Blog | Plant Specialists

Throwing Shade: Design Elements for a Lower SPF

08  Plant Specialists

Throwing Shade: Design Elements for a Lower SPF


While New York City rooftops are generally all about sun, you don’t have to be catty to throw some shade.  From pergolas and arbors to canopies and awnings, shade structures can be useful design elements for defining spaces, providing privacy or casting shade on your rooftop, terrace or backyard.


Shade structures are a great way to create an outdoor room, designate a dining or lounging area, or just to add allure to your garden. The ceiling of a pergola can be left open to frame the sky or a particular view; or the structure itself can be used as a grow frame to manipulate plants and vines and create coverage for dappled light and a more lush garden feel. They can also be designed with retractable sides and ceilings to accommodate various weather, lighting and mood conditions.  Arbors are a nice way to incorporate a grow frame for vines into your space and generally invite intrigue and movement through the garden. Canopies offer a more organic feel as the use of ‘sails’ have become more popular. Sails come in many shapes and sizes and can be stretched across garden spaces in a variety of ways to cast shade and generate ambience. Awnings attach to building walls to prevent sunlight streaming into your home or simply to provide a pleasant spot for a chaise.


What are some things to consider when designing a shade structure?

Shade structures can be costly due to materials and engineering. They are generally designed into the aesthetic of your garden with components made of wood, steel, plastic or reclaimed materials.  They must have some type of structure ballast to anchor them and they are generally engineered for specific wind loads, especially if they have sides.  Some methods incorporate a steel plate under pavers or decking or perhaps attaching the posts to a large, weighted planter.  It is always best to check with your property manager or building architect to get information regarding weight loads for your roof.  When incorporating living plants there are a number of things you need to consider:  planters should be large enough - a Wisteria can require as much soil as a tree; what kind of vine? ‘twiners\\\' and ‘climbers\\\' require different surfaces; don’t forget about phototropism, the orientation of a plant in response to light, which may stipulate which side of the structure you place your planter on. There are a multitude of variables to take into account when determining what type of structure is right for you and how best to incorporate it into your garden.


Our Solution:

Consider throwing yourself some shade and call us for a consultation to explore the different opportunities your outdoor space may have.

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