Beating the Summer Heat with Outdoor Living Ideas

Living through an Australian summer can be the most enjoyable experience. It can also be a nightmare if you don’t have sufficient means to cool your home and garden.

Temperatures in residential areas around Brisbane and the Gold Coast can vary dramatically. Away from the cool coastal breezes, you families are often forced indoors and relying only on an air conditioner or other cooling system.

But that’s no way to enjoy summer.

For families wanting to enjoy the great outdoors, here are three ways to cool the garden or patio area around your home.

Sail Cloth

Shade Sails have gained popularity over the last 10 years. Made from strong synthetic fibres and offering a range of colours, a properly installed shade sail can provide the best of both worlds: Cool breezes and shady enclaves.

Shade Cloth can be cut and measured to suit any sized patio or outdoor area, is neat and attractive, and won’t break the bank. A professionally installed sail can provide you with additional outdoor entertaining, without exposing you to the hot sun.

As with any installation that changes the design of your home, you need to make sure you have chosen your colours, layout and position carefully.

You want to maximise the shade your sail produces, while still allowing for sufficient airflow.

The easiest option for most home owners is to affix the shade sail to an existing structure. If this is not an option, then you will also need to consider installing reliable steel poles.

The other thing to consider is whether you plan to leave your sail in place or bring it down during the cooler months.

Also Consider:

  • Drainage points
  • Direction
  • Airflow

Where storms are likely, the cloth can tear, even if it’s been re-enforced. So, take care to speak to get professional installation advice and if necessary also speak to a builder if you are planning on attaching your shade sail to an existing structure.

Outdoor Water Features

Water features are a great way to cool down the surrounding area, even in humid climates. They are also an ideal alternative where creating shade is not always possible due to limited space.

From fountains to the in-ground pool, a well positioned water feature that has constant flow can decrease the air temperature and make outdoor dining and entertaining a real pleasure.


An additional bonus with an outdoor feature like this is that it can also attract the native bird life who are looking for a cool bath in the heat of summer.

A few tips:

  • Keep the water feature at least two metres from the home
  • Ensure regular cleaning of the filter and pump
  • Ensure water depth does not pose a hazard for children.

Allowed depths for water features before barriers are required can be obtained from local council websites.

Ornamental Garden Ideas

Known as “living shades”, Australia’s native plants are in abundant supply and can really make a difference on hot days. Most are green, leafy evergreens, but you could also choose the larger shade producing trees such as Wattle or Willow for a sensational ornamental shade garden during summer.

These are especially appealing as they will also warm the yard during winter.

For shady wall clibmes there’s:

  • Hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus)
  • Morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) and,
  • Cardinal climber (Ipomoea x multifida)

A Centre arbour can feature a range of trees that are ideal for small back yard.

  • “Muskogee” crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei “Muskogee”),
  • The Catalina ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribunda ssp. asplenifolius)
  • Native Brisbane Tall Palm and beach palm

For larger yards, deciduous groves can be created with larger date palms with cooler, evergreen undergrowth.

No doubt there are many other ways to cool a back yard down and ensure both a cool summer and a sun-burned free summer. What are your suggestions? How do you keep the shade on and the heat out?

Let us know in the comments below.