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Everything You Need to Know About Outdoor Umbrellas and Sun Shades

18th March 2020

Shade Umbrellas

Few places on earth beat the glory and majesty of Australia. But, with pristine beaches comes sizzling heat. So, if we have to take the good with the bad, then we're going to adapt and make the bad better. 

When the hot summer hits, it's best to turn your lemons into shady lemon groves. The best way to do that is to crank up a new-school umbrella, invest in a permanent pergola, or ease into the sanctuary of a shade sail.  

In a moment, we're going to explore a wide variety of outdoor umbrellas and sun shades. Whether you're upgrading your home or restoring a restaurant to its former glory, we have a few ideas that'll help you create a unique space and enjoy ample protection from the sun. 

Types of Umbrellas

Whether it's your home or your business, the best part of the design process will always be customisation. Just because you need shade doesn't mean you have to settle for one large sun umbrella (although there's nothing wrong with that if it has proper UV protection). 

You can sip your lemonade under the shade of any number of patio umbrellas. You can roll your shade out on a set of wheels, make it a permanent fixture, and choose from a wide variety of materials. Let's look at some of your best options.  

Patio Umbrella

Permanent vs. Removable

The question is, will you need to pull the umbrella indoors every once in a while? If so, then you'll be looking for a shade umbrella with a nice, sturdy base. An umbrella base is a weight attached to the bottom of the post, it is designed to hold the umbrella in place, especially in windy conditions. A base for a regular sized umbrella should clock in at about 20 kg or more.

If you don't need mobility, then you may want to opt for a permanent umbrella. These are wonderful solutions because no wind, rain or storm is going to knock it down. You'll also never need to worry about set-up and take down. Over time, you can even swap out one colour for another and completely change the aesthetic of your property. 

Centre Post vs. Side Post

Your centre post is your most standard option. It also happens to be one of your strongest options. Step underneath, crank the lever or pull the rope and watch your shade pop up, front and centre, while you rest in the assurance that your umbrella is sturdy. 

A side post, however, is off-set providing added versatility, should you need it. If you'd like your umbrella to form a lovely little L-shape and lean over you without obstructing your path with a post, then a side post will be just the ticket. They'll also free up some space for you to slip out from under the sun and recline without interference.


At home, you may need to shade your garden area, patio, bbq or pool. Since you're protecting your loved ones, be sure to inspect each shade structure's UV block out. The Cancer Council recommends 75% for a "Good Quality" shade. At Project Shade we prefer to aim for 90% - 100% (a completely reasonable expectation).

You also want to see that your future umbrella or shade sail is weatherproof. Don't let Australia's winds, rain, or scorching heat damage your new investment. A sturdy and durable material will make your new shade stand in place for a long time to come. 


Do you run a cosy little cafe or restaurant? Achieving the right ambiance is partly due to the shade covering you select. Umbrellas are wonderfully inviting to new patrons; you want your patrons to feel welcomed, protected and cosy as an apple crumble on a Sunday afternoon.  

In these instances, a dozen umbrellas may or may not work within your space. It depends on what kind of real estate you're working with. Fear not, because you can work with cantilevers to offset the poles or even dabble in the realm of shade sails  -  a delightful little treat we're about to discuss. 

Types of Shade Structures

No matter your oasis, an umbrella will always do the job. But, why stop there? What if you'd like to cover more space or weave the wonder of nature into your abode?

Perhaps you'd like to station an umbrella over your bistro table and opt for something a little different over your vegetable garden. If so, take a look at the many different types of shade structures. 


Of course, an umbrella large enough to cover you no matter where the sun drifts is an easy solution. And it's most definitely your friend in the battle against skin cancer.

But, what if you have a larger space to cover or you want to incorporate more of a natural aesthetic? Then, here are some added solutions. 

Poolside umbrella

Shade Sails

Ah, the shade sail. Sounds glorious, doesn't it? They are for a few reasons. First, they're cost-effective and who doesn't love hearing those two words. Second, they're custom-made to fit your area. Gone are the days of moving your umbrella or chair as the sun arches in the sky. But, more to the point, shade sails are a great alternative for carports, pools and large patio spaces. 

Shade sails are made of thick material that can stand up to the elements. Whether it's beating sun or pounding rain, you can lounge the day away under the full coverage of a sail. A solid one will be manufactured with UV protection ratings, providing a little pushback on the almighty sun. 

Shade sail

Fast-Growing Trees

An umbrella or a shade sail is a one-stop-shop. But, what if you want to lean into nature a little more? Trees are a wonderful way to create oxygen and maintain a natural look for your dream space.

While planting trees sounds like a wonderful idea (and it is), you may not be able to just plant them and go. A little TLC will be required. So, what are some of your fastest-growing options? Perhaps something you can plant in one season and see blossom in another? Here are a few varieties that do quite well in Australia:

  • Magnolias
  • Japanese Maples
  • Tahitian Limes
  • Forest Pansies (Sounds whimsical and lovely, doesn't it?)
  • Dwarf Flowering Gums

Indeed, you can create a forested fancy with the right selection. But, do keep in mind that trees don't just pop up with a lever and fold away when more space is required. Depending on the species, your forested friends may be hard to maintain and it's hard to pick what they'll look like.


Now, here's how to add a little majesty within your magnolia patch. Consider a custom-made pergola. We say custom because the design options are practically endless. You can choose from a wide variety of wood and other materials. 

A pergola is a permanent outdoor structure made of columns that support a system of beams and rafters. This is where fairy lights enter the scene. Imagine delicate ivy bedazzled with strands of fairy lights, laced in a fine mesh that protects visitors from the sun? 

During the day, the material that's been attached to the rafters will protect you from an overabundance of the sun's rays. During the evening, friends and family can gather around a lovely firepit to roast marshmallows and listen to the sounds of summer nights. 



Now, if this is all about your four-wheeled baby, then we need to discuss carports. Here, you're going to do more than prevent squint lines with an umbrella. You're going to provide protection against rain, sun and hail. 

Carports are generally made of timber, steel or any other construction material. They can have tin, tile, PVC or a variety of other roofing materials. As you shop, keep an eye out for the roofing material and, of course, keep in mind how many cars you want to protect from the elements.

Outdoor Umbrellas and Sun Shades for You

When done right, your garden and patio space can be a wonderful extension of your home. Let it be the place where you seek out your greatest moments of peace and tranquillity. But, if you're going to set up your haven, you might as well make it a safe place to breathe in some breeze on a summer day. 

When you're ready to start customising, we hope you'll reach out to us. Here at Project Shade, we're big-time lovers of nature and the outdoors. We want to help everyone create the perfect space to call their own.

Sip on your morning tea; lounge in the afternoon sun; wait for the stars to pop out. Just be sure to do it from a beautiful shady space. Like nature, we love a patient and easy approach. Great things take time and that's why we'll work hard to find the best outdoor umbrellas and sun shades for you. We'd love to help you start curating today. 

Please note the contents of this post is information only and general in nature.
If you require advice it is best to contact one of our shade specialists who can review your particular circumstances and then provide tailored advice according to your needs.