Made in the shade
Spending time outside is generally good for you, even if you're just lazily lounging in your own backyard. The sun can also be a little overbearing at times, though, generating intense heat and harmful radiation that chases many people indoors on otherwise beautiful summer days.
We recently explained how to create a map of sunlight and shade patterns, mainly to optimize sun exposure for a garden or flower bed. Yet while sunlight offers obvious benefits for gardeners, a patch of shade can be hot real estate, too, for people as well as plants, pets and wildlife.
A sun map may reveal where shade already falls, cast by big obstructions like trees or buildings, but it's more useful for finding sunlight than avoiding it. That's because shade is often even easier to make than to map: It's as basic as blocking sunbeams to create dimmer, cooler conditions below.
Still, the ease of casting shade belies some aesthetic complexity. If shade is the only goal, you could use any random eyesore to obscure the sun. But for a shady oasis that looks good, lasts a while and doesn't cause new problems, you may want to start by shedding light on your options. To get ideas, check out the photos above for a few tips about throwing shade on summer heat.