Smarten up your balcony, deck, garden or courtyard with some shade. In the sun it can be well over 40 degrees Celsius on a hot summers day, rendering more than half of most properties unusable. But don’t lock yourself indoors with the air conditioner blaring!
Shade can be created using a number of permanent and non-permanant additions. The simplest is of course a smart cantilever umbrella which can be moved around the garden to provide shelter wherever you need it. A pergola or shade sail will offer a more permanent solution but remember, check with your local government regulatory body for building approval requirements.
But what could be better than nature’s shade? Plant a tree… Ok so a tree is a long term shade solution, but if you have the space incorporating a tree into a homes garden design can add thousands to the property value. Look for established trees for instant shade and impact. Ever wondered where you cat goes on a hot day? Well you will usually find them curled up in the coolest spot in the garden, under a hedge and we could all take a leaf out of their book! When we set up and design our gardens, too often we get trapped into creating one usable outdoor space, usually off the kitchen, living or dining area. Our BBQ, outdoor table, lounge chairs or hammock are all centred around this space forcing us into utilising it whenever we want some green time. These spaces are often designed around the sole function of eating and usually in the evenings when the sun and temperature drops.
Look around your property, determine the orientation and look for where shade falls throughout the day. Remember, in the winter the low sweeping sun in the northern sky brings warmth to a north-west facing deck, but come summer, the afternoon sun in the western sky will be blazing in making the space hot and uncomfortable. In this case, a little seating area on the front lawn is the perfect spot to cool off in the afternoon and evenings when the sun dips behind the house.
A cool corner behind the house, next to the hedge or down behind the shed could be the perfect place to set up a secluded spot to relax in a garden setting with an afternoon drink or two whilst enjoying the sounds of nature! Grassed surfaces reduce temperature extremes by absorbing the sun’s heat during the day and releasing it slowly in the evening, thus moderating temperature. The irregular surface of lawn areas also scatters light and radiation, greatly reducing glare.
Turf cools itself and its surroundings by the evapotranspiration process. Each grass blade acts as an evaporative cooler. A street’s worth of front lawns on a summers day will lose about 10,000 litres of water through evaporation and transpiration to the atmosphere. Roughly 50% of the sun’s heat striking the turf may be eliminated through this transpirational cooling process.
The cooling properties of turf are so effective that temperatures over turfed surfaces on a sunny summer day can be up to 15 degrees cooler than over concrete or asphalt. Or to put it another way, consider the fact that on a block of eight average homes, the front lawns have the cooling effect of 70 tonnes of air conditioning.
Channel your inner child Everyone has that childhood memory of running through the sprinkler on the back lawn getting covered in grass clippings right? Well if not, it’s time to make some memories! Next time the kids are complaining about the heat, throw on their beach gear, slip, slop slap and head out to the yard for some sprinkler fun… and you can of course join them!
Be water-wise of course, check your local council water restrictions if any and remember, water costs money!
Of course, there’s always the beach! But then who’ll be home to tend to your garden?
Well, check out our article Keep your garden alive this Christmas for some great tips and advice for making sure your garden doesn’t get neglected while your sipping a shandy at the surf club!