Seek Shade

Seeking shade or bringing some portable shade with you can reduce the ultraviolet rays (UVR) that reach your skin.

Not All Shade is the Same

  • The deep shade of a densely leafed tree—when you cannot see the sky through the foliage, is good protection
  • An umbrella on the beach will provide more limited protection as UV light can reflect off both the sand and water to reach you under that umbrella.  With umbrellas, size matters—bigger umbrellas provide more protection
  • On the beach, consider a portable beach hut, which are becoming more popular and provide a family with more protection

Natural Shade

Trees cool the environment, clean the air, help conserve energy, reduce soil erosion, provide wind breaks, lessen noise, increase property values and provide beauty. Our seasons often tend to quickly swing from cold to unseasonably hot. Shade is a valuable option for protection from the sun’s rays. 
Shade not only reduces the temperature, it can lower harmful ultraviolet rays by 50% or more. Create more shade where you live, work and play.

Good questions to ask before you plant a tree:

  • What do you want from this tree? Shade or just curb appeal? Choose a location that meets your needs. Where is the shade at 10:00, 12:00, 2 pm and 5 pm? When planting trees, think about how and when you use your yard? Will planting a tree in this location give you the shade you want at the times you most often use this space?
  • Is the tree you want native to your area? Can it survive our cold winters and hot dry summers? Consider deciduous trees, trees that shed their leaves each fall, that grow large, thick canopies of leaves as they mature to block UV rays
  • Is it a fast grower? What can you expect this tree to look like in 10 years? How much space will it need? Will the tree’s root system affect any nearby structures?
  • Does it bear any fruit, berries or seeds that might be messy and affect other structures nearby?
  • What is recommended regarding fertilizing, staking, mulching the base or winter protection?
  • What are the watering recommendations? It typically takes about 3 years for most trees to establish their root systems
  • What kind of guarantee does the nursery offer on new trees?
  • Before planting your tree, call utility companies and municipalities so you can avoid gas, hydro, cable lines and sewage systems when you dig!

Species to consider for shade

Black Maple Accolade Elm HackBerry
Freeman Maple Honey Locust Redmond Linden
Red Maple Tulip Kentucky Coffee
Silver Maple Sycamore London Plane
Sugar Maple Red Oak  

Plant the right tree in the right spot.  Water it particularly during that first season! For more information about creating natural shade, go to

Some trees not best shade choices

Some trees are better selected for their ornamental or curb appeal (Japanese Maples) or for function (fruit trees—often too small for protective shade). 

Check the nursery tag for mature growth height and width, before purchasing a tree.

Man-Made Shade

Man-made shade is instant!  You construct or assemble it and it is ready for use unlike a tree that takes years to provide a leafy canopy.

Consider several factors before you make the investment in building or buying any man-made shade:

  • What do you plan to use this structure for?  Is it meant to provide shade in your yard or for your child’s soccer team?  Shade that is being set up for a season is a different purchase than shade you want to be able to load in and out of your vehicle and pull over uneven ground in an unfamiliar park or sports field
  • Will this structure provide the shade needed at the time of day this particular location is used?
  • What kind of maintenance might it require? How long can you expect it to last?
  • Can parts be replaced if something becomes damaged? North American made products may cost more at the time of purchase than an imported item but often replacement parts are available if needed
  • Are accessories available? Some shade structures or tents feature side panels that can provide shade at different times of the day
  • If portable, can the shade structure be anchored safely during wind or other extreme weather?
  • Can this type of structure withstand the weather? Can parts of it be taken down in extreme weather or during the winter? Do you have room to store it at that time?

Shade is not enough protection by itself.  It is important to combine shade with covering up with clothes and a wide-brimmed hat as well as applying sunscreen.