Relax Better: Patio Umbrellas to Give You a Shady Reading Spot

These parasols have got you covered.

How’s your garden looking? Barbecue good to go? Plants flourishing? Table and benches set up ready for lovely, outdoor dinners? Maybe you’ve even got up a couple of loungers out there? But what are you going to do when you need to take cover? Planning some shade into your “outdoor room” is essential and there’s no easier—and more flexible—way to do it than with a patio umbrella.

Budget Friendly

An aluminium pole makes for a lightweight option, while a wind vent helps with stability. Sunnyglade

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It’s worth bearing in mind that most patio umbrellas are sold separately from the base that you will absolutely need to hold it in place. The diameter of an umbrella pole is pretty standard, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a base for them to sit in. Depending on how you plan to use your umbrella, you may even want to buy more than one base—one can sit permanently under your outdoor table, the other can be by your loungers and you can easily move the umbrella between the two.

Classic Look

Clever clip closure helps to secure when not in use, and sturdy rib design gives longevity. Abba Patio

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If you’ve got a 9-foot umbrella to wrestle with, it can be a pretty unwieldy thing to open and close—so consider buying one with an easy crank mechanism that will make it simple to raise and lower mechanically, rather than having to rely on your own strength. It’s also worth checking how you secure the canopy when it’s folded—does your umbrella come with velcro, ties or a clip system so that it can be easily stored when not in use? And finally, check that the canopy is vented, so that wind can escape and won’t send the entire thing flying like Mary Poppins.

For Evening

Twenty-four built-in bulbs make night lounging easier than ever. Best Choice Products

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Once you’ve got the basics sorted, keep an eye out for extra features. Most umbrellas claim to be fade resistant but you’re likely to get some sun bleaching, especially on bright colors. To mitigate, look for an umbrella that comes with a sleeve or cover for when it’s folded down. The cover will protect your umbrella from ending up with uneven tan stripes. Some umbrellas also come with solar-powered lights built in, which charge during the day and come on at night, making your outdoor space even more functional.