Shade Solutions for Small Gardens - Options and Costs


If you're planning to landscape your small outdoor space, it pays to give good thought to the type of shade solution you would like, and can fit into your budget, especially if you're going to make the most of your garden or courtyard all year-round.


When planning for a small garden design, one of the most challenging things is knowing what your options are and understanding how much they cost.


With the arrival of businesses like Trade Tested, which offer good value for money with their entry-level solutions, we now have access to a much more comprehensive range of solutions for every budget. For example, if you have $4500, you could install an all-weather louvre roof for around the same cost as a custom-made retractable awning (space permitting).


To help you with your small garden design and budgeting, we have outlined the most common shade solutions and provided cost indications for both entry-level and mid/high-range options. From here, you can work with a designer to select an alternative that fits both your lifestyle, space, and budget.


Moveable/Removeable Shade Options


Cantilever Umbrella


Approximate Cost*

- $500+ incl base for entry-level option at Mitre 10.

- $2000+ incl base for premium option Right:3.3m umbrella from Poynters.


Suspended from an arching or right-angled sidearm, these umbrellas can be cleverly positioned to maintain the shade over your outdoor area as the sun moves throughout the day, without having to drag a heavy base around. They can also provide some shelter from the rain but will need to be folded up in high winds. The downside is the broad, heavy base that can take up quite a lot of room and may not be suitable for small awkward spaces.

Wall-mounted Cantilever Umbrella

Approximate Cost*

- From $1,290

Right: This wall-mounted umbrella was the perfect solution for an awkward space in our Hobsonville Point garden redesign.


These umbrellas are cleverly designed to attach to a wall, fence, or post. They are ideal for providing shade in sheltered, low wind spaces where a conventional umbrella is impractical, like small patios and courtyards.


They can be tilted and adjusted to provide you with sunshade throughout the day.

Retractable Awnings


Approximate Cost*

- From $549 for 4 x 2m (hand crank). Add at least $300 for a motorized version (Trade Tested).

- Custom-made 4 x 2m motorized from $4,300 (approx).

These awnings offer a lot of flexibility in shading an area and can be retracted and extended to different lengths depending on the time of day. They are a good option for balconies as they do not take up any floor space, allow for more unrestricted use of the area beneath them, and are easily folded back when not in use.


However, if you need a customized option, they are certainly not the most affordable solution around, and we would recommend exploring other options before deciding on this one.

Permanent Built-in Shade Options


Permanent built-in options are stylish and allow you to maximize the use of your outdoor space, providing shade in the summer and rain protection in the winter.

The addition of a permanent structure is like adding a new room to a house and creates a seamless transition from indoors to out, making the outdoor space an integral part of the home. It can also add considerable value to the home.

📷 NZ Louvre Company

If you are considering a permanent shade solution, it's important to note that they need to be fixed to a deck or concrete/tile patio, so the cost of this will need to be factored into your design. There are also some council regulations that need to be adhered to and in some cases, resource consent might be required before construction can take place, which can cost approximately $4000. It's best to engage a professional to help with the design process of these structures, as they may be able to provide clever solutions to avoid such costly consent.


A basic pine deck will cost around $300/m2 incl labour and a hardwood deck around $450/m2.

Tiles/Pavers can vary, but somewhere between $250 - $350/m2

Opening Louvre Roofs


Approximate Cost*

- Freestanding entry-level kit-set options start from $2800 for a 3 x 3 m hand crank opening roof plus installation, which can vary depending on how these are to be anchored, but starts at around $1000.

Right: We recently installed a Trade Tested louvre roof in Hobsonville Point, Auckland.

- A custom-designed solution built to exact sizes, starts at around $20,000 incl installation.


If you want an all-year-round shade solution for your garden or courtyard that allows you to adjust for different light levels during the day, you can't go past a louvre roof. There are stand-alone or built-in options.

Transparent/Light Diffusing Roofing

Approximate Cost*

- A 3 x 3 m wall mounted entry-level option starts from $1700 + installation costs.

Right: Wall-mounted polycarbonate patio cover from Trade Tested.

- A custom-designed solution on a basic pine frame would be around $4000, but you would need to factor in resource consent, due to the fact the roof is fully encolosed.


If you want to let as much light in as possible but still protect against UV rays, Polycarbonate panels offer a glass-like appearance without the weight, requiring less structural support. They can also be tinted to create more diffuse lighting.


Timber Pergola

Approximate Cost*

- A simple open-frame 2.4 x 2.4 pine pergola will cost around $5000 + (incl labour costs)

- For a designer look, you can include a privacy screen on one or multiple sides of the the pergola, like this one (right) that we installed in Hobsonville Point, Auckland.


A pergola can provide the feeling of being in a covered area but still allow natural light and a breeze to pass through. They are very cost-effective compared to a louvre system. Climbers can be planted at the base of each post to create a lovely green canopy.


Our designers specialize in small urban gardens, terraced housing, balconies, and decks. If you are thinking about transforming your small outdoor space, don't hesitate to get in touch for a free, no-obligation consultation.



*The cost estimates provided in this article are intended as a rough guide only and are subject to change. For a cost estimate accurate to your specific requirements, please contact us directly.


Have you read the other blog posts in our Summer Series? Check them out here:

Outdoor Furniture for Small Spaces

Outdoor Rugs for Small Spaces




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