How to Choose the Best Garden Awning
Garden awnings are extremely versatile and make a great addition to the garden.
I’m sure we can all remember a time when we were having a lovely afternoon on the patio, but eventually had to retreat to the house either because the sun got too much (or a rogue shower struck!).
It’s easy just to give up on sitting outdoors when the weather gets too much. However, with an awning, you can feel confident that you’ll be protected from the sun (or rain) when necessary, and able to relax outside for hours.
There are a few things to look out for when choosing the best garden awning for your situation, so here are a few pointers to help you make an informed decision:
The width of the awning will dictate how wide the bar is that will attach to the wall, and this will depend on the space you have available. Measure the space carefully because it can be very time consuming (and expensive) to have to return an awning after purchasing it. Brackets can be purchased to go in front of any gutters.
The awnings I’ve recommended range from 2.5 – 4 m wide. These are the most suitable sizes for domestic use. Wider awnings (up to around 7 m) are also available, these are usually used for commercial purposes. If you have an especially large patio, you may want to think about pairing smaller awnings together.
If you’ve got a very small patio or decking, a narrower awning is a better choice. You’ll want to leave some clearance on either side, so leave space between the awning and the corner of the house/light fittings/windows etc. For aesthetic balance, I recommend installing an awning that’s approximately 50 cm narrower than the width of your patio or decking.
Similarly, the projection of the awning – how much it extends outwards – will dictate how much shade is available to sit under. Depending on the direction of your garden, and how the sun crosses it, you may prefer to have a smaller awning, or you might want a larger one.
The awnings I’ve recommended have a protection ranging from 2 – 3 m. The projection will be limited depending on the width of the awning you have purchased. For balance, the projection is usually around 0.5 m shorter than the width.
Remember that you don’t need to have your awning fully extended every time you use it.
It’s worth noting that the projection measurement doesn’t take the angle of the awning into consideration, so this number refers to the size of the awning when it’s laying flat. Of course, it will appear shorter once installed, as the awning is angled downwards.
If you’re fitting the awning over a patio door, you will need to make sure to fit the canopy sufficiently high up so that it doesn’t interfere with the doors when they open.
Awning Size for South Facing Gardens
The size of your awning can also come down to the direction your garden is facing. In the summer months, south facing gardens can get very hot. It can also get hot inside the home, as the sun shines in, so an awning can stop the patio doors from letting in too much sunshine.
A retractable awning is a great option for a south facing garden, but you’ll want to ensure it offers enough shade. For south facing gardens on hot days, a longer projection and a steeper angle is key to ensuring you’ve got enough shade.
Most awnings allow you to adjust the canopy angle, which is a good feature to look out for. This adjustability allows you to maintain the same amount of shade no matter where the sun is in the sky.
The degree of angle adjustment can vary. Most can be altered from 5° to around 30° or 40°. When the sun gets lower, you may find the awning provides less shade; however, those with greater angle adjustments should offer you a good amount of shade for the majority of the day.
Awning Strength and Durability
Awnings with a torsion bar are going to be stronger than those without. This bar becomes the backbone of the awning, absorbing movement and tension. It makes them less susceptible to damage from the wind.
If your awning has a full cassette, meaning it’s completely covered when it is retracted, it is going to be better protected from the elements when not in use. A half cassette, on the other hand, will protect the awning from dust and light rain, but it won’t be fully weather resistant. When the weather turns, you may want to take it down.
To improve the longevity of your awning, you should retract it when the weather gets too windy. If a newspaper cannot be left on the table unweighted, it is generally considered too windy to have the awning out. Leaving it out in windy weather will likely cause it to become damaged.
Awnings should always be retracted when there’s no-one outside to keep an eye on it. Although it can be tempting to leave it extended, if it’s only going to be unattended for a few hours, if the wind suddenly picks up it can cause a lot of problems.
UV and Rain Protection
Awnings are primarily designed to provide shade. As a result, you want to look for one which provides UV protection. A UPF rating of 50+ will mean that your awning will be able to block around 98% of the sun’s UV rays.
If your awning doesn’t have UV protection, you might be surprised to find that you can still get burnt through the canopy fabric. A UPF rating is one of the only ways to be sure about how much protection the awning offers from the sun.
Another thing to note is that the fabric itself should be UV resistant. This means the sun’s rays won’t affect the colour. We all know the bleaching effects of strong sunlight. Purchasing a bright red awning only to have it fade by the end of the season will be very frustrating.
Try to look for an awning with waterproof canopy fabric. Although awnings shouldn’t be used in really heavy showers (large puddles form on the awning and cause damage), they can generally protect you from lighter rain. Knowing our UK summers, it’s always a good idea to have this protection so that you don’t get disturbed by a fleeting shower.
Water-resistant canopies won’t offer quite as much protection from wet weather as waterproof canopies. Nevertheless, whether your awning is waterproof or water resistant, it’s best to retract it during longer periods of rain.
Having the awning at a 14-degree angle will help water run off the canopy and avoid puddles forming. This is good to bear in mind if it does start to rain.
Garden Awning FAQs
Yes, but keep a few things in mind – a retractable awning will protect against light rain. However, due to its retractable nature, the structure isn’t quite as strong as a static awning. As a result, you should avoid allowing rain (or even snow!) to pool on top of the awning. It will weigh down the canopy and put too much pressure on the awning’s arms.
Patio awnings should be at least 230 cm from the ground. This is a good height to allow headroom under the canopy.
If you want to use your awning with a more severely angled valance, you may which to position the awning higher on the wall. This is to ensure that the extended edge of the canopy is still high enough to allow people to walk under it.
No. You should have help fitting a garden awning and fit it with at least two people. Firstly, the structure is heavy to manage alone, secondly, it’s impossible to fit it to the wall with one person.