If there’s one thing almost every North Carolinian can agree on, it’s that NC summers come in two temperatures: Hot and HOTTER! If you’re lucky enough to have a naturally shaded area in your front or back yard, you probably gravitate toward it every time you head outside. If you don’t already have a shady space to enjoy, however, how can you create a spot to keep cool?
At Turf Medic, we want all our customers to be able to take advantage of their lawnscapes all year long, even when temps are scorching. So, let’s talk about how to set up an at-home retreat that you, your friends, and family can enjoy even in the unrelenting heat of summer!
Let’s Get Shady
If you’re lacking an area to escape the sun’s rays, there are numerous ways to incorporate a cool zone into your landscaping. Below are a few of the Turf Medic team’s favorite ways to bring in the shade.
Plant trees that provide coverage
For shade-seeking North Carolinians, trees are the most natural way to block out the sun’s rays. If you’re attempting to create a sheltered area, examine your yard to see if there are any trees that already form a canopy and begin planning your oasis there.
If you don’t already have a suitable natural area, you can plant a tree or two to create your own. Here are two great choices from Turf Medic:
- Red Maple – This shade-producing tree is hardy in zones 3 through 9 and can grow anywhere from 40 to 60 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet wide. In addition to offering a break from the sun, it also produces beautiful red flowers in the spring and brilliant red leaves in the fall.
- River Birch – Known for its delicate and unique bark, sprinkled with pink and dark red hues, this tree is a wonderful choice for Southeast NC. It grows quickly – at a rate of 4 to 9 feet per year – and can get up to 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide!
Incorporate an architectural element
If you’re looking for a more immediate way to snag some shade, consider building an architectural piece that will offer a break from the sun’s rays. Pergolas are a popular choice and also add character to your lawn or patio.
For a more temporary or flexible solution, think sunshades, parasols, and retractable awnings. These elements still provide protection from the sun but require less of a commitment than a permanent structure.
Spruce Up Your Space
Now that you’ve created a spot to keep cool, let’s discuss the best part – adding greenery! Not all floras can survive sans sunlight, but there are plenty of options that will thrive in a sheltered space. The Turf Medic suggestions below make great additions.
Green and Gold is an evergreen groundcover suited for the shade. Its golden yellow flowers will bloom on and off throughout the summer and fall seasons, creating a beautiful sea of color!
Ferns are also a great choice for shady areas. For NC gardens, Southern Maidenhair or Maidenhair ferns are both excellent options. These varieties are delicate, easy to care for, and when planted properly, will come back year after year.
For a pop of color, bring in begonias, a flowering plant that comes in a variety of eye-catching colors. Wax begonias are especially acclimated for low lighting.
Vining and Climbing Plants
To enjoy even more shade from your pergola or architectural element, try incorporating vining and climbing plants. These will wind and twist their way up the sides and over the top of your structure, blocking even more of the sun’s rays. Two of our favorite climbers include:
- Carolina Jessamine – Also known as Evening Trumpet flower or Poor Man’s Rope, it brings in dark green foliage and fragrant, yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom from December through May.
- Coral Honeysuckle – Boasting clusters of red, tube-shaped blooms, this climber is great for creating shadows and is also known to attract hummingbirds. Its flowers bloom during the spring and sporadically throughout the summer with bright red berries appearing afterward.
Incorporate Interesting Accents
Now that your shaded area is almost complete, it’s time for the finishing touches! Add string lights or landscaping lights to set the mood after dusk. Water features and colorful accents can also help to round out your space and are fun conversation pieces to boot. For those who are seriously committed to keeping cool, install misters to give you (and your plants) a reprieve on hot summer days!
While we can’t promise this newly created space will keep you completely cool this summer, our Turf Medic team can promise it will give you at least a slight break from the sun and certainly a beautiful spot to relax.
Not sure where to start? Get in touch with Turf Medic for a house call! Our team can help you design and plan your shady nook, getting you one step closer to finally beating the NC summer heat!