Our little back garden heats up like an urban inferno during Washington's sweltering summer months. Determined to make our little garden usable this summer, I spent several weeks searching for a patio umbrella that would provide sufficient shade. The area I was targeting is about 11x13 square feet. Not big (obviously), but big enough to make it a challenge to stay shaded with a standard umbrella.
I narrowed my choices down to an offset (or cantilever) umbrella, which means the pole is off to the side of the sunshade.The main benefit of an umbrella that can be tilted and maneuvered in all directions is that you can adjust the shade with the changing angles of sunlight.
I compared costs and asked around and decided to go with a Costco umbrella, the Portofino Signature Resort Umbrella, which is selling for $799 right now (that includes the base, the umbrella, the cover and the shipping--not bad). I am a big Costco convert but have never purchased anything from Costco.com. Everything was seamless and easy and shipping was free.
This umbrella is awesome. It casts 100 sq ft of shade. A hand crank easily rotates the umbrella 360 degrees and retractable wheels mean I can move the umbrella around as the sun moves. A trigger grip handle allows me to tilt the umbrella into 5 different positions. If it gets windy the base, which I filled with water from the hose, is very sturdy and stable. The frame is powder-coated aluminum and the canopy is Sunbrella® fabric. It tucks away nicely when not in use, too.
Ok, humid Washington summer. I am ready for you. And so are my flowers, which you crushed last year!
(Images: Catrin Morris)