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Harmful Effects of Sun and Benefits of the Shade

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Shade structures can come in many shapes and sizes. Most people think of them as mere convenience, something that is there just because it looks good or because it makes an outdoor setting feel a little bit better. But the reality is that there are many legitimate reasons that you should have a shade structure. There are harmful effects of the sun that shade structures can help you avoid, as well as many actual benefits of shade that have more to do than just the sun.

Harmful Effects of the Sun

Harmful effects of the sun are prevalent. 66,000 deaths occur annually from the sun. Prolonged exposure in the short term causes sunburn, but every time someone gets sunburned, there are long term effects that are piled on top. Over time, the eye will actually experience cell degeneration, stopping itself from properly healing and eventually contributing to cataracts. This of course is linked with diminished eyesight and blindness. While many think that only those with fairer skin can be harmed by the sun, it is actually something that breaches all races and does not care what color your skin is. While having more melanin can help protect your skin, it does not make it invincible from the sun. Ultimately though, this information is not cause to be afraid, but is merely for education. Most of the 2-3 million sun-based cancers that occur on the skin are successfully removed, but the cost is not something cheap.

Benefits of the shade.

Those who protect themselves from the sun can protect themselves from many of the effects of aging. A woman who has protected herself from the sun can expect to appear 30 at age 40. Additionally, shade does not merely keep the sun out of your eyes. It can make the area literally cooler, and combined with plants it will make the temperature drop very noticably. There are different variances between sun and shade depending on what you are measuring. A table in the sun can that is at 144F will drop down to 89F if left in the shade. While that is an object that absorbs sun, that difference also translates into playground equipment. The variance is there, but the benefit is real. Grass in the sun vs. the shade will be 15F cooler, but a parking lot in the same conditions will drop over 35F! On average, one can expect a difference of 27.5F.

As you can see, a shade structure can provide very real benefits in addition to the aesthetic improvement it can bring to an outdoor space. If you have an outdoor space that’s used often such as a pool, playground, or lot space, consider installing some shade not only for the sake of comfort, but for the sake of health.

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Setting up an outdoor patio

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Just because you purchase a shade structure does not mean that your job is done. There are many things one can do to make sure those who are using the area enjoy themselves. The design elements that you will want to focus on implementing will depend largely on what kind of property the structure and patio is for. Commercial, residential, public/education, will all demand different needs and different goals.

Residential properties, mainly meaning homes and some apartments, will want to focus on several things. Firstly, the seating should be mainly closer together, with only a few chairs set apart. The seating should consist of both benches and chairs. Pew style benches will hold far more people for the room they take up, and loveseats are good for a balance between chairs and pew-style. The material for the seating can depend on the style of the house, comfort, and durability wanted. A grated plastic or metal will hold up in extreme weather, but metal will tend to be less comfortable than something plastic. Treated wood also tends to be more comfortable and combines well with certain aesthetics, but will not be as likely to last very long. But regardless of the type of material you use, for residential patios it is recommended to use outdoor pillows. A few tables are also good to create an area for people to gather around, and encourages outdoor grilling. Plants are also something that works great to create ambience. The shading used could be an awning, or to cover more space (if the patio is not attached to the home) a pavilion.

Commercial buildings (offices, restaurants, bars, and more), are going to need more tables, as the guests using the patio will likely consist of several independent groups. Benches can still be used to maximize seating, but the materials that work best will be metal seating to make sure they last. Additional items that complement the patio should be things that cannot be stolen easily. This means that pillows are generally not something that should be used, and any plants should be planted in the ground instead of in above ground pots. Commercial buildings should also plan for cigarette smokers being the main people that use the area, meaning plenty of ashtrays or disposal bins. The visitors are also less likely to care about keeping the area clean, which means you need to make sure you keep it easy to dispose of trash. Same rules for residential for shading, awnings can work great for attached patios. But individual tables could instead use small shades attached to the tables, or for maximum shade you could use a large shade structure to cover the entire area.

Publicly owned areas, as well education areas, should have patios very similar to those of the commercial buildings. It should consist of multiple benches and tables. You want them be to be comfortable and accommodate everyone who may come into contact with them as they will be used by a wide range of people. It is very important to have some form of shade set up with these patio areas as they are often used for resting or relaxing outdoors for a period of time. Also make sure you are using a comfortable material that won’t get too hot and burn someone skin just for sitting on it, but will also hold up with lots of wear and tear.

Using Shade to Increase Plant Growth and Variety for Gardens

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No matter the plant, they will always use photosynthesis as one of their main forms of nutrition. Plants however do not all have the same needs for sunlight. If they did, they would only grow in wide open plains. But as we know, many plants grow great in low-sunlight conditions. And especially in areas like Texas where the climate tends to lean more towards high heat and heavy sunlight, more sun isn’t always more success for your garden. Think of how many plants grow fine beneath the canopy of forests.

The effects and benefits of shade on plant growth is numerous.

One, in some climates water is not the limiting factor, in others it is. Either way, it can play out well to have low sunlight. If the growth does not depend upon water, it is likely less energy will be needed from sun. If there is limited water, for some plants it is best to have shade to conserve water. But this all depends on the type of plant. If the plant you want to grow is not perfect for your climate because of an inability from the plant to tolerate heat, shade is an important part of keeping the plant cool. In fact, many vines will actually tend to grow away from the sun, and some plants have leaves that actively avoid the light. Something to keep in mind is that regardless of the shade-tolerant plant, if they grow beneath canopies they likely need to have access to nutrient rich soil. This is because the trees above will drop leaves, leaving behind rich soil that is essentially compost from the leaves decay. One of the benefits that help humans is that many plants actually cool down the air. They do this through transpiring to help growth, but this effect is a great multiplier when doubled with shade to cool down an area.

What types of plants are shade tolerant?

There are many vegetables that should be grown in shade to protect them from 95F+ temperatures. Young peach and apple trees, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers will all benefit from shade. Anything over 110F will start to cause the very quick death of these plants. To protect these plants, you may plant sunflowers or sunchokes on the west side of the garden to protect them from above and from the side. Among herbs and flowers, if you would like to protect the environment, bees would thank you for planting dead nettles. With the impending bee crisis, dead nettles remain the one plant that bees love to pollinate and having this means they also will pollinate your other flowers! Help the environment, the bees and yourself by planting dead nettles. Parsley, lemon balm and wild ginger can be used to cook with. Impatiens are a beautiful dark purple color on their leaves, and have beautiful bright white and pink flowers that grow off of them.

Close up of a scrubbing brush

Tips to help you Maintain your Shade Structure

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A shade structure is considered a smart investment in a home or property because of its numerous benefits which include adding aesthetic appeal, protection against the elements, enhancing ventilation, and reducing energy consumption. Shade structures come in different sizes, shapes and fabrics, and most fabrics come with a manufacturer warranty of 10 years or so. The warranty normally covers UV degradation and the sun, but it’s your responsibility to maintain your structure and prevent all other types of damage.

A shade structure is a fairly large investment, so what should you do to make sure yours stays in top shape as long as possible? Below we’ve put together 8 tips that will help you get started and prolong the life of your shade for years to come.

Avoid Using Strong Detergents

Always use a mild detergent to clean and remove stains from your shade. Powerful detergents with harsh chemicals such as sulfur and chlorine should be avoided at all cost because they can easily discolor or disfigure your shade fabric.

Check the Condition of the Fabric, Posts, and Anchor Points

It’s important to check your fabric for signs of stains, patches and other weakness, as spotting signs of wear early on can help you prevent the damage from spreading and making your shade sail unattractive. When examining the edge of the fabric, look for signs of frays and stretches and make sure the posts holding your shade fabric remain strong and firmly on the ground. Any signs of wobbling should be fixed immediately.

Prune nearby shrubs and trees

Trees and shrubs closer to your shade sail should be pruned regularly to prevent them from scratching or damaging your shade fabric.

Make sure the shade sail is properly installed

This should be done using the right tools as instructed in the manual. You can also get help from a professional shade sail installer.

Take down the sail when not in use

Shade structures are designed to withstand various outdoor weather conditions, including sun, wind and rain. However, during the winter when the shade is not in use, it’s advisable to take it down to prevent damage that may be caused by strong winds, snow or storms.


Shades should also be cleaned periodically using a garden hose. Proper cleaning can go a long way to increase the life of your shade sail and ensure it stays clear of hard to remove stains.

Keep a safe distance from fire

Since shade structures are generally made from materials that aren’t fire retardant, it’s always a safe idea to keep it away from any fire sources, such as grills, fire pits, or any other heat source beneath it.

Come up with a maintenance schedule

Your shade structure should be inspected regularly to ensure that it stays in good condition at all times. The tension should also be checked and the turnbuckles tightened to prevent it from hanging loose or falling off. One way to do this effectively is reading the manufacturer’s product maintenance guide, or by having a professional take a look at it for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; shade structure maintenance is extremely important for getting the most value out of your purchase!

A shaded walkway in a park

When You Need a Break From Your Fun in the Sun

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There are few things in life more enjoyable than soaking up the sun with friends and family. Whether in your own backyard, at the local beach or on your lunch break at work, most people feel rejuvenated after just a little time in the sunshine. But even the most ardent of sun lovers agree, sometimes you need a little shade.

What Are Shade Structures?

Shade structures are exactly what they sound like, a structure that provides shade. They can take many forms in both permanent and movable varieties. Even nature provides shade structures in the form of trees, bushes and plants. Often a shade structure is included over patios or decks in a residential setting, and over public seating areas in a commercial setting. Many businesses strive to provide a nice shady area outside for their employees to enjoy during break times.

Why Are Shade Structures Important?

Including a shade structure in your outdoor space will accomplish several different things, the most obvious being that it provides protection from the sun for both people and property. UV rays from the sun not only damage skin, but prolonged exposure also damages the surface of your patio or deck. Even the family car needs a break from the sun! Using a shade structure to cover a regular parking space will not only save you from a sweltering car interior, but also helps prolong the life of your car’s exterior and interior surfaces. Shade structures are also an easy way to help visually break up an outdoor space. Using shade structures to define the different areas of your yard will give the space a more complete feel, and it’s a functional way to add beauty to the landscape. A well-designed structure can be a work of art when executed properly.

What Are the Options?

When planning your outdoor living space, there are a variety of things you could do to incorporate shade. Trees, shrubbery and plants are a natural and beautiful way to give your space areas of respite from the sun. However, these options may take some time to fully develop and provide adequate shade, so you may want to incorporate a shade structure as well. Permanent structures could include pergolas, gazebos or cabanas, and our proprietary designs at Modern Shade. Or you may want to do something simpler such as an oversized umbrella or a sunshade that utilizes outdoor fabric. There are also options for portable shade structures that range from a simple umbrella to a large portable shelter. These options can also work in a permanent space, such as your own yard, deck or patio, and they are really useful options when you are enjoying an outing at your local park or beach.

So get out there and enjoy the beauty and refreshment that comes from being in the great outdoors, whether it’s fun in the sun or a day made in the shade!

A partly cloudy sky

The sun’s damaging effect on your skin

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You may feel that with fall right around the corner, the dangers of sunburn have passed. However, sun damage has nothing to do with the temperature; people tend to cover up more when the weather cools, reducing their exposure. But your risks of skin damage from the sun’s UV rays are still there. 

Sun damage

That reddening of the skin from sunburn is cells and blood capillaries that have been damaged. Repeated sunburns can cause your skin to become dry, discolored, and wrinkled. The skin may appear to be thicker, but is actually more prone to bruising or further damage.

The greatest risk is skin cancer. This is the most common form of cancer, but you can minimize the chances of contracting it by staying in the shade.

Vitamin D

You’ve probably heard that you need sunlight for your body to create vitamin D. While this is true, your body only needs about 15 minutes of sunlight per week to process enough of this important nutrient. Even that isn’t necessary since milk, cereals, and other foods are fortified with vitamin D. You can always buy it in capsule form. It feels great to be out in the sun and fresh air, but you don’t need it to stay healthy.

Avoiding damage from the sun

Simply staying in the shade is the best way to avoid the sun’s harmful effects. Like most people you probably love sunshine, but if you spend much time outdoors you should take precautions:

  • Apply sunscreen before going outside. You can buy various levels of protection and it only takes a few moments to rub it over exposed areas. Those who may be especially sensitive should use a sunscreen with SPF (skin protection factor) 30 or higher.
  • Stay covered up. You should wear a broad-brimmed hat and long sleeves and pants of a loose, light material that will block the UV rays.
  • Stay in the shade in the middle of the day when the sun’s UV rays are strongest, from around 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Use sunglasses to protect your eyes.

How to recover from sun damage:

  • Once your skin is damaged, always use sunscreen when leaving the house. Use SPF 15 or better. If skin irritation develops there may be ingredients you’re sensitive to. Consult a dermatologist or experiment with different brands.
  • Gently exfoliating your skin, which is the process of removing dead cells from the outer layer, can help it look better and heal faster.
  • Moisturize! There are a wide variety of good hydrating products available, many with ingredients like aloe or vitamin E that help promote healing.
  • There are some new LED lighting products which are designed to promote collagen production in the cells, and can help to heal and reduce damage to your skin.
  • When you’ve developed brown spots or other discolorations, use an over-the-counter lotion made for the problem.

When damage is more severe, always consult a dermatologist. Repeated sunburn can do lasting damage to your skin. If you spend time outdoors take some precautions and stick to the shade whenever possible.

Preventing Burns from Playgrounds

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Children love to play at playgrounds that offer activities that keep their bodies and minds active and healthy. It is a great way for kids to socialize and exercise. Parents need to be aware of burns associated with playgrounds and need to consider shade structures when choosing a playground. Shade structures are a great way to keep children cool and prevent burns.


Sunburns are a common problem in children. The younger the child, the more likely a sunburn is to occur. Most parents remember to apply sunscreen to their children on the beach or while swimming, but it is much easier to forget to apply sunscreen regularly during normal daily activities such as going to a playground or park. Choosing a playground with shade shelters will help parents and children to be able to prevent burns from the sun and will reduce the risk of sunburns. 

It is now widely understood that adults who developed sunburns as children are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer. Multiple sunburns and severe sunburns increase the risk for a child developing skin cancer as an adult. Some skin cancers, such as melanoma, can require surgery, cancer treatments, and are potentially deadly. Parents should closely follow sunscreen instructions for application and reapplication, and select playgrounds with shade shelters that cover playground equipment to prevent sunburns.

Equipment Burns

Children can develop another lesser known form of burns while playing on a playground. Second and third-degree burns commonly occur on playground equipment that is not in the shade. A child can slide down a hot slide or come into contact with the nuts and bolts that secure the playground equipment together and easily develop moderate to severe burns. When metal or other materials such as plastic are exposed to direct sunlight for extensive periods of time, they can heat up well over 120-degrees Fahrenheit. Anything over 120 degrees can burn a child’s skin. Children are not aware of the dangers of hot objects, so we must prevent those objects from becoming hot in the first place. That is why it is so important to choose a playground with shaded equipment. 

Choosing playgrounds with a structure built to shade play equipment is the best way to prevent burns from playground equipment. Equipment and toys that aren’t protected by shade are likely to become hot. A child should always have emergency care for third degree burns. Second or third degree burns can also lead to additional illness if the child develops an infection from the burn. Contact your pediatrician if you are concerned about your child’s burns.


Prevention of burns is easiest way to keep your child healthy. When you take your child to a playground, always seek one that has a structure that shades the equipment from the hot sun. Children are very active and constantly touch equipment that can reach very high temperatures. Many larger parks and playgrounds offer shelter structures and shade in order to protect children from equipment burns and heat. If your local park doesn’t offer shaded play areas, speak to the park manager about getting shade structures built.

Keeping the car cool during those hot summer months

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People aren’t the only ones who need the shade. Cars need shade too. This is most important during those peak hot summer months. There are some times when you can’t put the car in a garage. The space just doesn’t allow for it. There are lots of cases when a car is kept outside for long periods of time. How about when you go to work, and your car sits in the parking lot? How about when you come home and your car does the same thing? How about when you visit someone at the hospital? You might only be in there for a few hours. During the hot summer months one hour is enough to really do some damage to the car. 

It sounds like a really cool idea to put a cover over your car and leave it sit there? Sounds really cool, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, these types of covers do not exist, or do they?


Good question. It’s not that the steel roofing is bad, it’s just damaging to the car. Let’s take a look at a for instance. Say there’s a really bad rain storm, one that brings lots of hail stones. It might not be likely in your areas, but just pretend for now. Those hail stones have a way of bouncing off the steel roof and create even more damage. They can damage the roof and the cars underneath. 

The sun also has a damaging effect on the roof. In theory it seems like a good idea, but it’s not. An indoor parking lot is not likely to face as much damage as an outdoor parking lot is. 


Let’s get the insurance thing out of the way first. Using one of these will greatly reduce your chances of getting stabbed in the back by the insurance companies. Using one of these things will also help to make you happier too. On hot days it’s very hard to feel happy about coming back to a hot car. It takes forever for the air conditioner to truly air everything out. This is what makes the car cover so cool. You can get into your nice, cool car after being out in the heat for several hours. 

Have you heard of fabric shades? You’ve probably seen them at pools or over playgrounds, but have you seen them over parking lots? Think about car dealerships. Many of these have them over their high-end cars.

Parking under shade drastically reduces the heat inside your car, making it more bearable to sit inside of immediately, rather than waiting for it to cool down. This is a rather new concept for most companies and their parking lots. If you or someone you know is interested in finding out more about shaded parking, contact Modern Shade to discuss your options.

Fabric Shade Structure Over Park

Benefits Of Fabric Shade Structures

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Fabric shade structures have become a popular option for providing shade while working or playing in place of more “conventional” options, such as canvas, wood, or steel structures. Fabric shades are eye catching, unique and dramatic, which partly adds to the allure of these structures. They are a sustainable, durable solution that requires less material than alternative options. We’ve put together a quick look at just a few of the benefits of custom fabric shade structures:

Reduces Risk of Skin Cancer: The major benefit that a fabric shade structure provides is that it protects people from the harmful ultra violet rays that cases skin cancer. Exposure to prolonged ultra violet rays and sunburns, especially during childhood, increases the risk of melanoma and skin cancer. If left untreated this can lead to serious health problems. Prolonged exposure to sun rays also makes the skin become thick, leathery and wrinkled. Researchers also found out that cataracts are related to exposure of sun rays, so staying under some shade has quite a few health benefits.

Safe Shade: Fabric shade structures are a better option than wood or metal shades, as they are porous. They allow air to escape, which keeps the area underneath cooler and more comfortable. High density polythene fabrics blocks out over 95% of harmful ultra violet rays. It allows cool air to circulate unlike other materials that trap heat.

Durable: When a fabric shade structure is well designed, the life span can range from 10 to 25 years or more. They are highly weather resistant and can be used in extreme weather conditions. They can be designed to weather rain, wind, or snow as required by the climate of the region.

Environmentally Friendly: Fabric shade structures require less raw materials to construct, which results in lower production footprint. They also require less energy to transport due to their lighter weight.

Increase Revenue: Areas covered by permanent fabric shade structures can also be rented out in areas such as parks for office events, birthday parties, anniversaries and more, which can generate additional revenue.

Increases Community Value: An ordinary space can be transformed into a trendy or classy outdoor area with the right use of shading. The aesthetic appeal increases the value of the community, and can be an attraction for commercial investment and tourists. They’re a great way to add comfort to a park or outdoor exhibit, while also serving as an aesthetically pleasing addition.

The above are just a few examples of benefits of fabric shade structures. They are great for regulating temperatures when outside, no matter what activities are going on–from working on a construction project, to playing in a park, to keeping parked cars cool, or even keeping livestock healthy & happy (see our blog post about custom shade structures for cattle). If you’re looking at shade structure options, be sure to contact us to discuss your needs–we’d love to help!

Shade Structures for Cattle

Keeping Cattle Cool With Shade Structures

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When it comes to raising cattle, it can be tough to find the perfect blend of grass and shade… Where there’s lots of grass, there may not be much shade to keep cool. Heat stress is a significant threat to cattle and can reduce their health and productivity. It can also lead to the birth of ill-formed calves which would result in many health problems further down the road. Cows are unable to regulate their body temperatures as well as humans do. Setting up shade structures for zero grazing or placing them strategically around fields can do wonders to help with your cows’ health and productivity. Shade structures are a smart alternative to air conditioning–which is only feasible for zero grazing cows, and can be quite costly.

Shade structures for cattle can either be permanent or portable. Regardless of their use, they should be at least 10 feet tall to allow for adequate air flow. Permanent shade structures will need more labor since it will require manure removal from time to time. Good shade cloth should block as much as 80 percent of the sun’s rays. However, at Modern Shade LLC, we’re proud to offer structures that provide an open feel, cool the air by as much as 25 degrees, and block up to 97% of harmful UV rays.

No matter if you choose to install portable or permanent shade, the location you place it is crucial. Some areas are optimal for cooling purposes, while others are less than ideal. A shade structure should be placed in a location where wind passes through, as moving air will cool off the cattle better than stagnant air. A hillside may be good for the wind but may lead to premature damage to the shade structure due to erosion. A delicate balance must be struck in order to maximize comfort, while also preserving your shade structures to ensure they last as long as possible.

We specialize in crafting the perfect custom shade structure for any need, and would love to get you set up with exactly what you need to keep your cattle cool, healthy & happy. Happy cattle are more productive & live longer, so keeping them protected and healthy is a wise choice. Contact us today to receive a quote for custom shade structures, we’d love to hear from you!