Shade gardens are consistent landscaping themes because they're beautiful and, more important, easy to maintain while using less water. In some regions, designing with shade may be a necessity; even full-sun plants are still blistered by heat throughout the south. Retractable awnings are integral elements for shade gardens by providing a consistent way to filter heat, UV rays, and sunlight while still allowing sufficient light at the right times to help plants grow.
Lighting Issues for Gardens
The big question is: why does shade matter to a garden when sunlight makes plants grow?
George Gustafson, a master gardener with the Oklahoma State University Extension Office, explains that sun can cause damage to leaves and blooms, retard growth, and depleted moisture from the soil. Even plants labeled full sun may not be able to actually withstand full sun; Gustafson says the industry labels a plant full sun if it requires daylong sunlight if planted north of Kansas City. For any region south of Kansas City – from San Diego to Little Rock to Atlanta – even full sun plants can die in afternoon sunlight. Plants marked "full shade" still need light, but it should be filtered, like morning light or filtered light.
Another factor is the affect sunlight has on maintaining a garden. Indianapolis-based landscape architect Dean Hill points out that sunlight stimulates weed growth and increases how frequently one has to water, fertilize, and manage plants, such as mowing and pruning.
Both Gustafson and Hill recommend low-water use landscaping techniques (called xeriscaping) to lower the amount of maintenance in a yard, and Hill notes that low-water use techniques are also more eco-friendly. A few options:
o Incorporating shade elements like retractable awning lowers heat and sunlight, reduces weed growth, and keeps water in the soil.
o Reducing the amount of turf (grass) in the yard since flower gardens can actually require less water and maintenance.
o Using native plants since "native plants are hardy," Hill explains. "They require less maintenance and less water." Gustafson notes the smaller blooms for native plants make them less popular than their cultured cousins, so other xeriscaping techniques, like using shade, are important.
Gardens depend on shade elements for filtered light. Controlling glare and heat creates more enjoyable and useful garden spaces. Some people avoid retractable awning shade elements because they think shade plants should all green, something Gustafson disputes. "There are all kinds of hostas and ferns – yellow, white, variegated, different colors."
Hill agreements. "A little research will reveal a veritable plethora of plants," he says, "a really expanded plant palette. Hydrangeas, ferns, shrubs, perennials. One of Gustafson's favorites is a special kind of rose bush which is well suited to almost any environment: "It blooms all summer, grows north-facing, can go full sun or shade."
Using retractable awnings for shade gardens can offer a variety of beautiful and long-lived texture, with "bright leaves in dark spots," as Gustafson describes it.
Even apartments, condos, and balconies, prone to swinging temperatures and low moisture because of the shallow soil depth, can benefit with retractable awnings protecting container gardens. Retractable awnings block sunlight and heat gain; light-colored fabrics reflect heat and light more effectively while keeping the balcony bright and welcoming. Potted gardens allow you to experiment with your garden. "If a plant does not do well in one place, put it in another location," Gustafson encourages. "Find out what grows best in their place."
Effective Retractable Awnings
Retractable awnings control shade, which makes them much more versatile than fixed awnings or permanent construction. Retractable awnings have adjustable pitches (slopes) and can be extended and retracted part-way, so the amount of light can be adjusted according to your garden needs. Other features make retractable awnings even more functional:
o Motors control retractable awnings remotely through sensors or timers.
o Sun sensors respond to light levels and retract the awning in the morning or on cloudy days, when the sunlight is filtered and mild, while being automatically protecting plants from damaging afternoon sunlight and heat.
o Wind and motion sensors automatically retract awnings in high wind speeds or when abrupt motions occur that could damage the awning.
o Timers and remote controls control retractable awnings by preset schedules or at the touch of a button.
Stylistically, the clean lines of retractable awnings fit with almost any kind of landscaping or architectural design. "Retractable awnings are very easily incorporated in landscape structures," Hill says, "cutting down on sun exposure and quite honestly, just improving comfort." Through extensive fabric selections (as many as 500 options for long-wearing solution-dyed acrylic) and nearly a dozen frame styles. Lightweight, durable aluminum frames mean that retractable awnings are also easy to install for a do-it-yourself-er.
The Key to Easy Gardening
Shade makes it easier to keep up your garden. By cleverly positioning retractable awnings through your landscaping, you can create an oasis for plants – and yourself – by providing controllable shade elements, so you can:
o Lower the amount of watering
o Depress weed growth
o Have healthy plants by filtering light
o Control heat
From apartments to acreages, gardens are a vital avenue to experiencing nature. Retractable awnings moderate temperature and sunlight for a better outdoor environment.