Articles and Ideas for your outdoor space from our outdoor experts

Your Guide to Backyard Summer Safe Shade

Posted by Jonathan Blampied on Feb 13, 2020 12:55:16 PM

Seeking respite from the sun is part of the human condition. Shade is a practical form of sun protection that has helped humans thrive throughout our history and when coupled with SunSmart initiatives, form a strong foundation of outdoor enjoyment. There’s no need to fear the sun, just respect it.

Institutions such as the Cancer Council of Australia actively promote sun safety and being sun smart. The 5 core steps of being SunSmart are well known:


  • Slip-on covering clothing
  • Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen
  • Slap on a hat
  • Seek shade
  • Slide on sunglasses


Each of these SunSmart pillars is essential to look after your friends and family. We are in the business of shade and we’re passionate about sun protection.


What is the best shade for my home?

UV Radiation (UVR) exposure is the root cause of harmful effects on humans and is what we’re aiming to prevent. Well-designed and positioned shade can reduce UVR exposure from the sun and is a great preventative measure to help reduce the risk. We suggest installing a shade system over your outdoor area to make sure you can enjoy the great Australian outdoors without undue risk.

You should choose an outdoor shade product with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor above 35. At this level, the product can provide all-day protection from UVR.

Quality outdoor shade products such as our umbrella range feature canvas coverings.


When do we need to seek shade?

Sun protection is advised at all times throughout the year (not just summer) when the UV index sits above 3. In Australia, this can be all year round with only Hobart and Melbourne sitting below 3 in winter.

We’ve known for a while now that you can still get sunburn when it’s cloudy so make sure you’re looking to shade for your family gatherings to ensure everyone is looked after. The best shade provides protection from direct sunlight with excellent coverage from above and the side to account for UVR reflection from surfaces. It’s also important to factor in the suns position throughout the day.

Our Shade Recommendations for Australian Summer

The best thing for outdoor enjoyment is a shade solution that you can be sure will protect your friends and family from damage.

  • High UPF rating on shade fabric or canvas
  • Movable to allow for all-day shade
  • Remember the other 4 pillars, you need them all to stay safe

Most of all, have a great time bringing your friends and family together and enjoy all that the Australian summer has to offer you. Don’t forget to have a quintessential BBQ with your loved ones and relish the company they provide.

For more information on our shade solutions have a look at our product range or get in touch with a shade specialist for expert advice.

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Topics: Sun Protection, Outdoor Shade, outdoor living

The Great Australian Backyard BBQ Guide

Posted by Jonathan Blampied on Feb 4, 2020 2:42:46 PM

Barbecue is the great Australian tradition where food is bestowed upon your guests and enjoyed with friends and family all summer long. Gather your people and put on a sizzling show with summer plates and excellent flipping techniques.

We all know the basics to a good grilling: stereotypical shrimp on the barbie, Veggie Sausages for your mate’s new fling and perfect flame-licked steak, just like you were taught.

Let’s cook up a plan to take your BBQ game to the next level.


How to get the perfect BBQ Steak

Steak is a bbq delicacy, your guests will be thrilled when they see and smell a fresh beef cut on the grill. Make sure you get the right cut of meat and cook it to perfection.

Give your chosen cut a good sprinkling of salt on both sides, set them on a hot grill until they’re nicely seared - check for firmness and then let them rest. This will let the juices and flavour reset throughout the cut.

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Flawless burgers every time

Slapping burgers on the grill is a superb way to feed a larger group. The most important piece of advice I can give you is to: Leave them alone. Only flip them once and let your burger filler cook through. Don’t push down with your spatula, I know it’s a habit but all that happens is the juice (flavour) squeezes out leaving your patties dried up and bland. Also, don’t cook medium rare patties, it’s not a steak! (see above)


How to not poison your entire social group with BBQ Chicken

Chicken is always a contentious issue when you BBQ - you don’t want to undercook a chicken, ever, but, it’s also suboptimal to serve up a dry piece of meat on a bone because that’s gross.

The most reliable way to look after the chicken lovers at your party is to salt the chicken all over, sear the outside and then move the chicken to an unheated part of the BBQ. A rack or empty bit of the grill is best, this way the heat of the grill will continue to cook the inside of the chicken without drying it out or burning the skin. Always check the meat once it firms up to ensure it’s cooked all the way through, it’s not a steak! (see above)

Is it really a BBQ if a snag doesn’t hit the grill?

Sausages on the barbie are quintessential. It’s the 20’s now so it’s time to step up your grill game and introduce a variety of sausages to the palette - other than the classic Aussie banger you could try a German bratwurst or mayhap a Traditional South African boerewors? You can even go with an American styled hotdog on the barbie just to mix up the expectations. As with any meat ensure you know what it’s made of. Some sausages are smoked or pre-cooked and can be quickly heated up on the BBQ whereas a fresh sausage will need to be cooked through.


One of our new favourites for BBQ season is to set up a dedicated condiment station. Give your guests the unbridled power to construct their own hotdog or sausage in bread combination. Get creative with the toppings you supply, don’t stray too far away from onions, tomato sauce and barrel-aged bbq sauce but try offering salsa, hot sauce, barbecued tomato or even a blue cheese sauce. Don’t forget fresh buns or bread to hold it!



Vegetables are for everyone, even kids

Corn is a great bbq food and takes very little effort. You can throw a corn cob on the BBQ pre-husking. This gives the corn itself a little bit of protection whilst serving as natural tinfoil. You’ll get a great smokey flavour and a well-cooked vegetable. Don’t forget to incorporate capsicums and tomatoes in your plan. Whole tomatoes and capsicums are best grilled by slicing in half and placing the open face on your grill. When the veggies are warm and have a bit of colour, flip them over and get a bit of caramelisation on the other side to finish. If you’ve got some smaller tomatoes still on the vine, place the whole bunch on the grill, still attached - they’ll be perfect (note: this doesn’t work as well with grapes).


Fill up the esky, it’s beverage time

Some would say hydration is the most important thing on the menu for your next bbq. Fill up the esky with some beer, have a few bottles, or boxes, of wine and be a good host by offering a variety of delicious non-alcoholic beverages such as iced tea, homemade lemonade and perhaps a nice fruity punch.

Sangria is a great way to get through a hot summer day, it’s easy to make and can quench a large group of people. A bottle of wine (red or white or both) combined with lemon, orange, lime and your choice of berries and mixer (lemonade or ginger ale are best, don’t use cola).

As always, have plenty of ice-cold water to go along with your alcoholic drinks and make sure you look after your guests - all that BBQ food will help.


Do you have room for dessert?

The best advice we can make is suggesting your guests bring a dessert - that way you don’t have to think about it! If they ask you for ideas, however, a homemade apple or berry pie with a dollop of ice cream is a wonderful palette cleanser. Perhaps you could even splash out and grill some fruit such as peaches on the bbq and serve them with ice cream. You can’t go past a good traditional Aussie pavlova if you’re looking for a crowd-pleaser.


Enjoy your summer

As always, look after yourself, your friends and your family - use sunscreen, remember to cover up with shade and stay hydrated (with water as well) and of course have a great time.

Looking for the best outdoor shade solution for summer BBQs? Try the Shadowspec Serenity™

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Topics: Australian Sun, Sun Protection, outdoor living, BBQ

Enjoy the pool this summer

Posted by Jonathan Blampied on Jan 6, 2020 9:49:36 AM

Ready to take the plunge? Swimming pools are swell, they provide a centerpiece for any outdoor space, give you something to point your outdoor furniture at and have great health benefits for you and your family.



There’s a pool out there for every outdoor space. Above-ground pools for a pop-up solution, lap pools for fitness or the ever popular in-ground family pool with crafted-curves to fit your backyard.

There are so many options, so to help find the best backyard pool we’ve pulled together a few that suit different budgets, yard sizes and quality to get you back into the swim of things.

An Above-ground Pool

Often seen as an entry level pool option for Australian families looking to get through the summer in a cool way. The lower price tag of an above ground pool is a carrot for a lot of families but, there’s other additional benefits to be had:

  • You can take the pool with you, or move it to another spot in your yard
  • You can build a patio and seating area around it as a long term project
  • Some land types can’t be excavated with ease
  • You can grab one last minute for an instant cool-off.

A modern take on this classic is the container pool - a drop in solution built from a shipping container. Containers are modular and very on trend in 2020. Some designs even come with a divider to create a spa pool at your leisure.

An Architectural Pool

Structured with clean lines that blend with your high end home. These pools are crafted as an extension of your home, using the same materials and thought-processes to build a cohesive, consistent look and feel. Geometric, sophisticated and functional, these pools are impressive and comfortable. If you’re working through a new build it’s the perfect time to plan for a pool to be designed at the same time.

It'll be important to involve your landscape architect in your pool plans so your garden and landscaping can be consistent and clean.

An Indoor Pool

These pools are, well, indoors (not in the backyard, sorry). Indoor pools are great for year round swimming or training and are popular in cold climates or mayhap, for athletic pursuits.

An indoor swimming pool is pretty straightforward—it's inside, under a roof and insulated by at least three walls. Indoor pools are usually simple, geometric shapes and are built for swimming or training throughout the year, especially in cold climates.




A lap pool

A lap pool is built for health and fitness purposes. Long and narrow, built for one or two people to swim continuous laps. Lap pools make a great feature of back yards with a long, narrow nook or can be added on to the end, or side, of your existing pool build should you require a mix of styles. For high end properties and budgets you could even look at an endless pool system if you need to just keep swimming.

An In-ground Swimming Pool

Perhaps the most popular of backyard pool, nothing quite evokes the feeling of a BBQ party like a relaxing float, beverage in hand and kids laughing and playing in the pool. This style of pool has soft curves that blend well with the natural layout of your garden and yard. In-ground pools should be your first port of call, they can be concrete based or even pre-built from fiberglass.



Pool considerations

No matter which direction you go with your pool, remember to consider the surrounds. You’ll need a great patio with seating, shade and safety features.

Remember to include a pool fence in your budget it's often legislated and is important to protect children from the pool. Pool fences can be stylish, match your home and provide the protection you need. Remember to purchase seating and dining options that match the overall design of your space and don’t forget a premium outdoor pool umbrella from Shadowspec.




Shadowspec's Outdoor cantilever umbrellas are the perfect pool umbrella for Australia. Check out the SU7 with it's built-in rotation. Cover your poolside lounger whilst you're relaxing and rotate it over your pool when it's time for a dip. 


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Topics: Swimming Pools

Shadowspec Umbrella Case Study - Stand out from  the rest

Posted by Jonathan Blampied on Nov 16, 2017 1:00:00 PM

Nothing explains a customer’s buying experience better than a first hand account. Derek from Western Australia was over the moon with his selection of Shadowspec SU4 Tilting Offset Umbrellas. 

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Which Shadowspec Umbrella did you purchase?

We bought four Shadowspec SU4 cantilever umbrellas for our community resource centre courtyard. 

What do you like about the Shadowspec SU4 Tilting Offset Umbrella?

Apart from being very easy to handle, we found them to be very adaptable to our needs. We can roll them around on our concrete surface, we can put them up at any angle, and we can keep them closed down under their cover when they are not needed, and they handle the winds in this area very well (which can sometimes be near cyclonic!).

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How would you describe the value of your Shadowspec Umbrellas?

The true value of these umbrellas comes from the fact that it has actually increased the usability of our outdoor space. Our biggest resource in this town is people and tourists, and a lot more people have actually been utilising the space because of the comfort and shade that the umbrellas bring.

Were you worried about buying the umbrellas online and whether they would arrive undamaged?

Yes absolutely. To be honest, we were very dubious when it came to ordering online, and especially as to what state the umbrellas would arrive in. I have to say, there was absolutely no damage, we had no problems at all. On top of that, the fabric used by the manufacturer is exactly as described. The umbrellas are perfect for our needs and also for the climatic changes that we have here, especially factoring in the harsh sun and the flying sand (we are located directly across from a beach).

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Could you put a dollar value on what you think the Shadowspec umbrellas are actually worth over a period of 10 years?

Undoubtedly, I believe that the umbrellas are worth in excess of $10,000. The product itself is very stable, we are so pleased with it. Especially as we know we won’t have to think of something else to replace these umbrellas anytime soon! We thought we might just use one or two each day, but we actually use all four on a daily basis. I can’t emphasize their value enough, we have people coming to us on the regular and commenting on how magnificent they are.

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What was your buying experience with Shadowspec like?

It was extraordinarily simple. I was tasked with the job of finding an appropriate solution for our problem here - high winds, glaring sun and very light coloured concrete, adding to the harsh glare of the sun.

I narrowed the choice down to one of three or four outlets to find which would be the best value for money. Yes there are of course cheaper umbrellas available, but I’m quite certain they would be blown to bits by now. I took the suggestion of Shadowspec back to the rest of the committee, we studied it in depth, and within a day of making contact with Shadowspec via their provided phone number, we had all the information needed to make an informed decision.

Initially we were going to order just one umbrella to test the quality first, but we decided to actually go ahead with all four and I could not believe how quickly they arrived! They arrived from the other side of the country, to our door within five days, almost before we’d even paid for it!

What made you decide to go with Shadowspec for your outdoor umbrella?

After closely looking at the specifications and taking into consideration that Shadowspec were actually located very far away from us (which logically worked against our decision), we decided to trust our gut instinct on this one. We went with the salesperson’s recommendation on which umbrella model would best suit the space, and it worked out absolutely perfectly. We couldn’t be more delighted with our decision.

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Has anyone commented on your Shadowspec umbrellas?

Absolutely. The umbrellas were actually the talk of the town when they first arrived! The resource centre is very widely used, and the umbrellas offer the perfect resting spot for people between their jobs and travels. We’re so pleased with how enjoyable and usable they have made our outdoor space, and we couldn’t recommend them highly enough.


Thanks for the wonderful testimonial Derek. Unsure which umbrella would be right for your shade requirements? We can help! Request your free shade layout plan below and we'll be in touch shortly to discuss your best option.

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Topics: Australian Sun, cantilever umbrella, Outdoor Shade, Quality, Patio Umbrella, Outdoor Area Ideas, wind resistant umbrella

5 post-winter upgrades to enhance your outdoor space design

Posted by Jonathan Blampied on Sep 4, 2017 2:48:56 PM

Seasons are changing and it's time to get back outside.  After a long winter is your outdoor area looking a little worse for wear? If it's anything like ours, it hasn't had much use in the past 4 months and could do with a bit of a tidy up! how-to-clean-up-outdoor-area.jpg

Image source: CC0 Public Domain

Here in Australia we have gorgeous summer weather and long evenings, encouraging us to enjoy our backyard, patio, courtyard and verandahs (or decks). These places, sometimes referred to as "al fresco" areas, are such an important part of our home, we should give them just as much thought and attention as the interior. 

Here are some design ideas to consider and pit-falls that you should avoid if you're thinking about making some renovations to your outdoor space this summer. 


1. Lack of Shade 

The hot sun can be unrelenting anywhere in Australia - especially if you don't have shade! No one can handle being out too long in the heat of the day, so paying attention to shade covering for your outdoor area is a must. There are many different types of shade, read more on our blog for information on how to make the best choice for you. Giving careful thought to the shade layout can add a lot of value to your home. Get the free service of a shade layout plan from Shadowspec using our shade umbrella and awning systems. 

Request your free shade payout plan


2. Balance

The balance of your outdoor area is important. Too much paving or concrete can make the space seem uninviting or cold - and all outdoor spaces need a touch of nature! It's important to get the ratio of greenery right so your al fresco area is a comfortable place to be. There are a number of ways to add these touches, from floor planters to hanging herbs and flowers. Be mindful to research the type of plants you can use, thinking about what will grow in your soil or with the correct amount of sunlight.

3. Layout

Layout needs to be considered in order to make the most out of your space. Think about who will be using the area and what you will be doing with it. Will children use your backyard? Do you require fencing? Are you planning on using it for outdoor entertaining? Where will you find your shade? Ask yourself these types of questions to help ensure the space is laid out in a way that is functional for you. 




4. Messy and unkept

Repairing messy or stained areas with peeling paint and distressed wood is an easy job that can make all the difference to your house. Doing a tidy up come summer, whether it's just a new stain on any wooden areas or lick of paint, is a cost effective way to update your space and make it a more appealing area to use. Think about what you could do to give your outdoor area a mini-update for the summer months. Shadowspec shade umbrellas and awnings are a great way to add something extra to your space and are made using premium 'sunbrella' fabric, which resists fading and looks great for many years. 


5. Poor Lighting

If you are using your outdoor area during the evening or want some overflow space for dinner guests, lighting needs serious consideration. Poor lighting will discourage use of any outdoor area and make it an unwelcoming space to be in. Adding lighting is a very cost effective way to update your space, even simple strings of fairy lights can make a huge difference to the overall ambience! Alternatively you can get lighting options with your outdoor umbrella, feel free contact our team to discuss these.  

 Read more about how to maximise your outdoor area by clicking here.

At Shadowspec, we are your outdoor shade umbrella & awning specialists, helping you plan your outdoor area - no matter what your needs. 



Topics: Outdoor Shade, Patio Umbrella

Wind resistant umbrellas - A Case Study for an Australian hotel

Posted by Jonathan Blampied on Aug 18, 2017 2:12:52 PM

In 2017, a premium Australian Hotel had a got in touch with our team of shade specialists to help pan an upgrade to their outdoor space with umbrellas that could withstand significant wind. Our local Agent in the area rose to the challenge. 

The hotel had employed seven square umbrellas from a competitor brand on their roof. Due to the location atop the roof, it was not uncommon for them to experience winds around 60 kmp/h, putting the umbrellas under significant stress.

The Hotel’s previous umbrellas had failed in the wind - The flimsy nature of the original umbrellas were far too flimsy and not fit for purpose in a hospitality shade situation.

During a recent renovation of the property, waterproofed bases for standard market umbrellas had been installed under the deck - so any solution would need to adhere to these existing fixings. 

The requirement was that umbrellas were needed to both utilise the existing space as well as withstand the high winds for up to an hour whilst the staff were able to to retract the umbrellas.


Upon initial discussion, the Hotel Manager was adamant that the 4 metre SU10 would be an excellent solution. However, after our agent analysed the situation, he found the existing bases were not suitable and the hotel lift would not accommodate the size of the SU10. The SU2 was the perfect piece to the shade puzzle.

Shadowspec and our Agent were so confident that the SU2 would perform, it was agreed that a single SU2 wind resistant umbrella would be installed on a trial basis. The staff would then ensure they took their normal necessary measures to put the umbrella down in adverse conditions. 

After two weeks, the hotel were thrilled with the quality and performance of the SU2. With no hesitation, they ordered the required umbrellas - one a 4.0 metre octagonal size, and the rest as 3.0 metre square SU2 umbrellas. 

If you're concerned with high winds and want to discuss our durable, stylish and high-quality umbrella options, make contact and one of our friendly sales team will be happy to assist you.



To read more about how you can improve your exterior hotel spaces, click here

Topics: wind resistant umbrella

Australian Winery Grows with New Room

Posted by Jonathan Blampied on Jun 15, 2017 9:49:42 AM

The award winning winery and restaurant, Hollydene Estate, in the Hunter Valley, NSW, made the decision to increase their outdoor capacity by adding tables and shade for their customers. 

But how to do that with unpredictable northern NSW weather?

The Problem: Not enough space for a growing restaurant


Unhappy about turning people away due to capacity problems whilst in full service, Hollydene estate needed room to spill outside and make the most of their gorgeous outdoor scenery and space. 

In order to give their customers the best dining experience, they had to overcome the problem of the weather and its elements. The brief was covering 40 extra seats in their outdoor, alfresco dining area. 

It was important to Hollydene that their eventual solution didn’t overrun the aesthetic of the venue, matched the shrubbery and earthy tones that are aligned with a prestigious winery. 


The Solution: A new outdoor room with Shadowspec Umbrellas

Shadowspec’s Outdoor Specialists worked with Hollydene to develop a variety of layout options, umbrella canopy colours and advice on how to make the most out of the beautiful location.

We recommended our Shadowspec Unity™ to cover the tables whilst keeping the masts to a minimum and providing full coverage of the tables to showcase the beautiful courtyard and the water feature in the centre. Take a look at our proposed layout which ensured that the umbrellas are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

The requirement to have shade when it is sunny, but is easy to dismantle during the colder months that are native to the Hunter Valley area meant that Shadowspec Umbrellas were the perfect solution. 


The Results: A great space & happy customers

Hollydene were very happy with the end result and these photographs illustrate how well the umbrellas work to increase the restaurant’s seating space and potential.

We are proud of our team of Shade Specialists who are great at working with customers to develop a shade solution for their outdoor space using Shadowspec's outdoor cantilever umbrellas

Are you interested in improving, creating or designing a new outdoor floor plan for your restaurant or cafe?  CONTACT A SHADE SPECIALIST >
Need help finding which umbrella is best for your product? Try our selector tool:


Topics: Outdoor Umbrellas, Cafe Umbrella, Outdoor Shade

The Summer Sun - Be Sun smart this Summer

Posted by Jonathan Blampied on Mar 24, 2017 11:52:47 AM

Sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes during the summer months in Australia & New Zealand. Some of the highest levels of UV radition in the world are experience in the antipodes this results in a dispropotionate amount of skin cancer in the area. approximately, two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70.

The best way to stop getting a sunburn is to stay out of the sun! But that’s not always practical, and when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest (between 10 am-2 pm) is when we are likely to be out and about with our friends and family, enjoying the summer. Here is a list of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from sunburn.


Use Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a must in the hot Aussie summer! It should be stored below 30°C and be sure not to use sunscreen that is past its expiry date. If you are swimming or near water you might want to consider a waterproof or water resistant sunscreen.

Choose the right SPF

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is a relative measure of how long a sunscreen will protect you from Ultraviolet Rays (UV Rays) – or the sun.  For example if it normally takes 30 minutes for your skin to redden, a product with SPF30 will prevent sunburn for 30 times longer.

Sensitive Skin or Allergic to Sunscreen?

If you have sensitive skin or young children it is recommended to use a natural sunscreen with an SPF30 or higher and re-apply every few hours. Additionally it is recommended to wear loose, lightweight, long-sleeved clothing and a wide brimmed hat with sun glasses to provide extra protection.  The more skin that your clothing covers – the better your protection will be!

Stay in the shade

This is one of the most effective forms of sun protection as it blocks most of the harmful UV rays and it’s easy! When you go outdoors find areas the sun doesn’t reach, like under a large mature tree or outdoor gazebo.  If you are in a place that doesn’t have natural shading (for example the beach, a sports field or a pool area), using an outdoor umbrella, a tent or shade canopy to keep you from getting sunburnt. 

Cover up!

Wearing the right clothes and covering as much of your body as possible will help block the sun. The more skin you cover the more protected from sun burn you will be. Some clothing fabric has built in sun protection, the label will indicate the UV protection rating.

Avoid the sun during peak hours

In Australia peak hours for UV radiation are between 10am and 2pm. Approximately 60% of the days total radiation is received during these hours.

If you are looking for high quality shade cover options that suit you, Shadowspec’s unparalleled range of pool umbrellas, pool shade systems, outdoor awnings and wind resistant sun shade options represent the finest in design and construction, and have been developed specifically for the harsh Australian sun.

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Topics: Australian Sun, Sun Protection, Shade systems

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