Shade landscaping is a very important part of Houston landscaping design.
With our city experiencing some of the highest temperatures in the country, it is essential that we create areas of shade in people’s yards that will allow them to enjoy outdoor living in comfort. There are many ways to create these pockets of shade with plant life, trees, and structures that will work with any style of landscaping.
One of the most important places to create shade is in the garden. Gardens are meant to be enjoyed from the inside as well as from the outside. Many types of garden design involve building a patio that functions as a central seating area. Shade can be generated here with something as simple as erecting trellises on the west and east sides of the garden to block the sunlight and generate a dappled shade effect on the area below.
Shade can also be created with outdoor buildings like gazebos and pergolas.
Gazebos are used in shade landscaping to create zones of total comfort in the center of gardens. Gazebos are outdoor buildings that can be fitted with fans, lights, and screened off from insects. They compliment a variety of home architectures ranging from the traditional to the contemporary, and they can be built to any size.
Pergolas are more natural looking, with a basic frame covered with vines that grow along the side walls and over the roof. Homeowners can choose between dappled shade effects generated by vines with narrow tendrils and small leaves. Total shade can be created by thicker vines that wrap tightly over surfaces. Several vine species like this have very large leaves that can block the sun, and some even have flowers that bloom in many colors.
Shade landscaping is often combined with patio designs to create outdoor rooms. The benefit of an outdoor room over an indoor room is the sense of feeling it gives. When we are sitting in an indoor room, there are four walls around us and a ceiling over our heads. There may be hallway entrances and windows, but we are more or less completely enclosed.
In an outdoor room, the sense of enclosure is markedly different than that of a home interior. We only need a roof over our heads and supporting columns to make us feel like we are sitting in a distinctively human environment. Columns that support the roof, and a patio or a deck that acts as the flooring, is all we need to create this feeling. At the same time, a magnificent view of the Houston landscape is open to us from every side. Outdoor air can circulate all around us, and the sounds of nature can fill the air.
The outdoor rooms that we build in shade landscaping come in many forms. Often, they are built onto the sides of houses. Shade is naturally provided by the overhanging roof. Additional coolness and shade can be generated by planting gardens around the patio area so that only a fan or two is necessary to keep the entire seating area comfortable.
In large yards where tall landscaping shade trees grow in one general area, and where large sectors of the yard lie in the open sun all day, shade landscaping can be done with decorative shade trees and hedges that create comfortable retreats in the far corners of the yard. An advantage this offers in addition to the shade is that it fills an empty area with greenery and vertical impact.