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6 Alternatives to Patio Awnings

Photo collage of different alternatives to patio awnings.

Patio awnings are a great way to provide shade and protection against UV rays. They can also be used as a shield from rain and snow as well as to protect patio furniture from such elements. In short, they’re versatile and very practical.

However, all these benefits don’t come cheap. Awnings, especially the fabric type, can be expensive. They can also block a part of your outdoor view which may not be ideal for some homeowners.

You can still bring shade to your outdoor space even without spending a lot of money on an awning. Check out what other options you have to expand your outdoor comfort zone.

Related: Composite Decking Guide | Deck Material Options 

1. Patio Umbrellas

Patio furniture and a patio umbrella by the poolside.

Perhaps the most practical solution for finding an awning alternative is to purchase a patio umbrella. A good patio umbrella is going to be able to do most of what an awning does for you. Many people have awnings installed in order to provide shade for a patio area or a deck.

If you buy an umbrella to use outside, then you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of shade. This is going to be a lot less expensive than having an awning installed over your patio. You’ll be able to purchase a good patio umbrella at a reasonable price.

This will ensure that you will be able to have a good time outside and that you won’t be blinded by the sun. You’ll be able to stay a little cooler on those really hot summer days, and you’ll be glad to own a patio umbrella.


You won’t have to pay out as much of your hard-earned money to get a patio umbrella as you would have an awning installed. A nice patio umbrella will be able to provide you with a lot of shade for your patio.

You’ll be able to feel cooler when it is scorching hot outside, and you won’t be annoyed by things being too bright. It’s a great solution for making your patio area more enjoyable.


A patio umbrella does a good job of providing shade for people while they’re enjoying time on the patio. It doesn’t completely replicate what an awning is capable of doing, though. An awning can also provide people with a little bit of shelter when it is raining outside.

Your umbrella isn’t going to be able to do this quite so effectively, as you will have to huddle underneath it to avoid rainfall. For this reason, it is most useful as a tool to provide shade.

2. Trees

A hammock in the garden under a shade of trees.

If the shade is what you are looking for, then you may want to consider planting some trees in your yard. Awnings can be really great to have around, but there is no denying the natural beauty of a tree. If you plant more trees on your property, then you may not need an awning to provide you with shade.

Trees can provide you with an abundance of natural shade, helping to keep your yard significantly cooler than it would otherwise be. Planting some pretty trees will also add to the overall aesthetic appeal of your property. Depending on what the weather is like in your area, you’ll be able to add a variety of different trees to your yard.

Just make sure that the trees you are attempting to plant are well-suited to your climate. If you space your trees out properly, then you can truly make your patio area as shady as you would like it to be.


Trees are the best way to provide your yard with natural shade. If you plant enough trees in your yard, then everything is going to be really pleasant even during a scorching hot summer day. This makes things a lot more bearable and you’ll able to enjoy your patio area to the fullest.

This method is one of the most popular, and it has the added benefit of increasing the aesthetic appeal of your home.


The biggest drawback to trying to make use of trees is that you have to grow them. Trees are not going to grow overnight, and you will have a tough time transplanting large fully-grown trees. It isn’t impossible to do so, but it is definitely not going to be a simple task.

Your best bet is going to be to buy some tall trees for your property and have them professionally planted, but this may wind up being quite costly.

3. Roofs

A covered patio with outdoor tables and chairs.

Building a roof for your patio area is something that will work as an awning alternative. An awning is basically just a retractable roof for your patio or deck. If you build a little roof over the top of your patio area, then you will be able to enjoy all of the benefits of a traditional awning.

It will provide you with some shade, and you will even be able to sit outside in the rain without having to worry about getting wet. This option is one of the preferred methods for people who truly want to replicate everything an awning can do. The problem is that this is going to take a little bit of work to accomplish.

You will either have to be handy enough to build this structure yourself, or you will need to hire professionals. Either way, the costs of this little project could wind up creeping upwards, making it a little less cost-effective than many would like.


The roof is going to work very nicely to provide you with a more pleasant patio experience. If you want to be able to enjoy your patio without having to worry about the sun, then having a roof will certainly be helpful. You’ll be able to create the right amount of shade while also protecting yourself from the elements.

It gives you more options for when you will be able to use your patio, so it’s definitely one of the preferred awning alternatives.


Building a little roof for your patio area is going to take more effort than most of the other things on this list. You’ll have to build it yourself or hire professionals. You’ll either be spending a lot of money to get it done, or you’ll be taking up a lot of your time.

It won’t be a quick solution to your problems, but it will be a good one if you have the skills. You may also like this Covered Patio Ideas.

4. Gazebos

A gazebo in a patio garden.

Building a gazebo over the top of your patio area will work very similarly to the roof mentioned above. For those who aren’t in the know, a gazebo is a stand-alone structure that has a roof. It is basically a pavilion, and it is most typically built in the shape of an octagon.

There are some variations on how gazebos are built, but this is the most common style that you see. You’ll need to have a bit of a spacious patio area if you are going to make use of a gazebo. It would actually be easiest if your patio was a little bit away from your house, as well.

This will give you a bit more room to work without having to worry about having enough space for the structure. You’ll essentially have a patio room by the time that you are done, so you’ll have a great spot to enjoy some shade and stay out of the rain.


In some way, a gazebo may wind up being even nicer than a traditional patio awning. You’ll be able to enjoy this structure, even when it is raining outside. It can be a great place to host parties, and you’ll always love spending time outside.

It takes some effort to build this type of structure, but it will definitely be an eye-catching structure that makes your home even more impressive than before.


Building a gazebo is not going to be the easiest thing to do in the world. This is something that is going to require a great deal of carpentry skill. If you consider yourself to be an amateur, then you may wish to hire some professionals to help you with this task.

You will want things to turn out nice, and it is important to get the job done properly. You may also like this Covered Deck Designs.

5. Pergola

A pair of armchairs under a pergola.

If you are worried about being able to build a gazebo properly, then you may want to consider a pergola. A pergola is like a gazebo except it isn’t really a little building. It’s a free-standing roof that is just there to provide your patio area with shade and shelter.

You will be building a roof on top of multiple support posts. A typical pergola design would see someone placing three support posts on one side of a patio and three posts on the opposite side. The roof is then built over the top of these posts.

It is a fairly simple structure to build, but it can be made to be more ornate and impressive if you wish. It will still take some skills to build a pergola, but it isn’t as complex as building a gazebo.


If you are somewhat proficient in carpentry, then you might be able to build a pergola by yourself. It will still take some planning and plenty of tools, but it is something that can be done. It’s a nice feature to add to your home and will look really nice if you put in the proper effort.

These pergolas can stand for a very long time and will work to provide you with all of the shade and shelter that you desire for your patio area.


The pergola may not look quite as fetching as the gazebo that is mentioned above. Even so, it is a structure that will provide both shade and shelter for your patio. You’ll need to have some carpentry skills to build this, or you will need to hire professional builders.

It won’t be inexpensive to build this either way. Planning to buy some furniture in your patio? Check this article to learn more Types of Patio Furniture.

6. Sail Shades

Outdoor dining set under a sail shade.

Sail shades have been in use for many centuries to help people stay out of the sun. In ancient times, people would use something very similar to modern sail shades to help provide temporary shelter while on a journey. If you are looking for a convenient way to block the rain and get a little bit of shade for your patio, then sail shades will work great.

They’re easy to put up, and you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of owning them right away. These sail shades will connect to your house, and you will then place some stakes in your yard to hang it up. This is a very long shade, and it will be able to provide ample amounts of coverage.

If your primary concern for finding an awning alternative is to get some shade for your patio, then this will work. You’ll have plenty of shade and will be able to enjoy your patio to the fullest.


Setting up sail shades will be very simple overall. You attach the sail shades to your home or another solid structure and then string it across your patio area.

It provides quite a bit of shade so that you will be able to relax easily while spending time outside. These sail shades are even cost-effective, making them a very smart purchase.


There really aren’t too many negatives about making use of something like this. It will work well for giving your patio some shade and keeping yourself out of the sun. It won’t be as good at blocking out rain, but it still should allow you to enjoy your patio during a light drizzle.

Otherwise, you may want to go inside if things are getting fairly stormy.

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