Creating Shade with Plants

Our lot is south facing and on a slope so it gets pelted with sun all day long, and it is hot. HOT. This year it has even felt almost tropical out there, which is lovely and allows us to grow some neat plants, but also kinda too much for my delicate vampire skin. I was out there for an hour the other day and got a burn all over my shoulders, and Mavis is also very fair so it restricts the amount of time we spend outside in our garden. It’s so nice out there though that we are getting creative about finding shady solutions.

One side of the yard has been shaded by trees since we bought the property which blocked the sun in the late afternoon (photos above are taken in the evening), but we recently had them looked at by an arborist and discovered they all had root rot and needed to come down before they fall down. We have started this process and it is already letting in loads more late afternoon sunlight (you can see the big gap in the background of the photo above) and the yard is now hot all day long. We have been working to create some shaded areas near to the house using plants as a natural filter for sunlight rather than installing any kind of expensive roof structure or canopy. So far this has worked well for us and I love the look of plants forming a sun barrier.

One place we have created shade using plants is on the bedroom balcony where the wisteria plant has grown over the railing completely, providing a bit of shade as well as a privacy screen to the space.

Competing now with the wisteria on the bedroom balcony is this passionflower vine we planted several years ago that has gone absolutely mad (pictured above, thank you hot yard!) Justin thought it would be good to send it the other way and onto a pergola built across the most prominent part of the house, creating a covered outdoor dining area off the room downstairs.

The boards went up quickly and it was super easy to just drag a portion of the enormous passionflower over to the corner. It’s already growing over the first couple boards and it might just make it across a few more before the summer is done.

Planted and ready to grow onto the other side is our first kiwi (!!!) next to the banana tree we got from my mom’s garden (see how tropical? Kiwis and bananas!) I’m really excited about kiwi vines, I didn’t even know you could grow them in our climate until I saw one at a friend’s property on Bowen Island. Apparently there is also an actual kiwi FARM on Mudge Island which is amazing. Bring on the gulf island kiwis!

The other area we had great success in creating a shade screen with plants, and probably our best one, is the hops growing over the balcony on the other side of the house, off the dining area. I love the look of these plants covering the house, and they provide really nice shade both on the balcony and to the hammock hung underneath. This was a really inexpensive project as well, all we used was a length of rope and some hooks along the roofline. In the winter when the hops die back we take down the old vines and ropes and over winter, when we don’t need shade, the area is clear. But in the spring when it gets warm the vines grow up the ropes super fast and by the time you want the shade it’s there. They easily grow up to the two-storey high roof and would grow even higher than our house if they had something to hold on to. So good!

This balcony is undergoing a transformation right now, but that’s another post.

Anyone else have methods for creating shade in a hot yard using plants?

2 comments

  1. That looks so amazing! Russell has kiwis growing at his farm as well – last time we popped by he had a little for sale section of kiwis and eggs!

    On Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 8:16 AM Fox on an Island wrote:

    > Fox on an Island posted: ” Our lot is south facing and on a slope so it > gets pelted with sun all day long, and it is hot. HOT. This year it has > even felt almost tropical out there, which is lovely and allows us to grow > some neat plants, but also kinda too much for my delicate vam” >

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