We rarely think about shade until we're without it so you might just plan ahead to provide yourself and your guests with a little respite from the sun.


Heat-related illnesses, sunburn and skin cancer can be the devastating consequences of overexposure to the sun.  This is particularly so in the high UV radiation levels of the harsh Australian climate. 

Many sun-related illnesses can be easily prevented. One step we can take is to consider shade when we design our gardens.


Working in the garden
  • Consider gardening during the cooler morning and early evening hours when the  sun's intensity is lower. This will reduce your exposure and risk of overheating,  particularly in summer.
  • Avoid working during periods of high humidity. High heat coupled with high humidity actually increases the risk of heat-related problems. High humidity (around 70 per cent) reduces you body's natural ability to cool itself. Your bodycan't get rid of excessive heat nearly as efficiently when it's muggy outside  compared to when the air is relatively dry.
  • Take into account your own physical limitations. Don't push yourself during these peak times.
  • Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and if you're fair-skinned consider wearing a long-sleeved shirt as well as long pants. Light cotton and other breathable fabrics are very comfortable and offer protection from the sun, dry  winds and insects.
  • Remember to apply plenty of sun-screen to exposed areas. SPF 30+ or higher should be used.
  • Wear a hat when you are outdoors. Baseball caps don't protect the ears and neck so a better choice is a wide-brimmed hat. Those made of woven materials are often cooler as well.
  •  Drink plenty of water. Sport drinks are okay but avoid coffee and alcohol as they speed-up your dehydration.


Resting in the garden

To make the most of your garden over the hot summer months, you need to think about creating shaded areas. There are many options available these days for you to create these spaces. Here are some ideas.
  • Plant trees. The shade cast by trees not only offers protection from the sun but  also offers a cool spot for taking regular breaks. Even small trees are better than no trees at all.
  • There's a wide variety of large, hardy garden umbrellas - centre poled or cantilevered - and they provide a haven of temporary shade.
  • Portable pergolas are also an option. They can cover a large area and can be left standing for long periods. They are quite durable and when summer ends you can pack them away.
  • Then there are the permanent structures such as gazebos, sun sails, cabanas, retractable awnings and so on. This is often the most elegant option but what's  best for you will depend on where it's going, your available space and your  budget. And you need to check your council regulations about building any  permanent structures on your property.