All about shade

Seeking shade when UV levels are above 3 and above can help protect your skin from sun damage. Shade alone can reduce ultraviolet (UV) exposure by up to 75 per cent. When used in conjunction with other protective measures, such as sun-safe clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen, staying in the shade is the best way to provide maximum protection against UV radiation.

Almost all skin cancers (approximately 99% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 95% of melanoma) are caused by exposure to UV radiation from the sun or artificial sources such as solaria. Protecting your skin from exposure to UV radiation is the simplest and most effective way to reduce your risk of melanoma and other skin cancers.

Shade serves many important functions. It can provide:

  • One of the most effective forms of protection against UV radiation.
  • A pleasant environment year round – cool in summer, warm and protected in winter.
  • An attractive addition to the surrounding landscape.

Shade can be natural (trees, shrubs, hedges or shadow cast from nearby buildings), constructed (man-made or built – awnings, shade sails, pergolas etc) or a combination of both. Shade can be permanent, temporary or portable (umbrellas, beach cabanas, tents etc).

Good shade however can involve more than just installing a structure over the area you want covered. To be effective shade needs to:

  • Fall in the right place at the right time.
  • Be the right size to provide effective protection from direct and indirect UV radiation.
  • Made of the right materials.

If you are planning to install or plant new shade or to improve the amount or quality of shade you have currently available there are a number of important things to consider:

Types of structure

Permanent or built structures include pergolas, verandas, gazebos and shade sails. For all built structures, regardless of size, it is essential to seek professional advice as well as development approval from local council.

Temporary or demountable shade structures include marquees, tents and lightweight shade sails. These shade systems work well for areas that need shade occasionally or are not suitable for a permanent structure. Temporary shade systems can also be used while trees and other vegetation matures’ to provide natural shade.

Types of shade

Natural shade
Trees and other vegetation can be on of the most effective and attractive ways of providing shade. Good natural shade depends on the size of the canopy and density of the foliage; the larger the canopy, the lower to the ground it is and thick dense foliage the better the protection from both direct and indirect UV radiation.

When selecting trees and other vegetation ensure they are appropriate for your area. Factors to consider include:

  • How much shade will they create and whether the shade will be cast where it is needed
  • Soil type and climate
  •  The size and shape of the mature plants and how they may impact on the surrounding landscapes
  • Deciduous or evergreen. A deciduous tree may be suitable to allow for more light and warmth in winter.

Portable shade
Portable shade includes marquis, tents, beach cabanas and umbrellas. These structures often provide limited protection from the indirect UV radiation, but can be an easy and cheap solution, especially in areas where no other shade options are available.

Guidelines to Shade
Cancer Council NSW’s Guidelines to Shade contains a step-by-step approach to conducting a shade audit and how to plan and implement a shade project.
Download PDF here (4.4MB)

Shade for schools
Download PDF here (158KB)

Shade for childcare services
Download PDF here (156KB)

Shade for the home
Download PDF here (148KB)