Summer is the perfect time to spend time in your yard, but sometimes it's too hot and sunny to enjoy it for very long. An outdoor umbrella provides you with some much-needed shade so you can sit out in your garden without overheating or worrying about the risk of sunburn.
When selecting the best outdoor umbrellas, you should consider the umbrella type, its shape and size, and any additional features you might require, such as lighting. Our top outdoor umbrella is made by Abba Patio; we like its durability and generous size.
Considerations when choosing outdoor umbrellas
Types of outdoor umbrellas
When choosing an outdoor umbrella, decide what's required to fit your needs, what you want from an umbrella, and what kind would suit your outdoor space best.
Freestanding or table umbrellas are straight outdoor umbrellas that can either stand alone or fit in the middle of a table that has an umbrella hole in it. They're basic and tend to be inexpensive.
Tilting outdoor umbrellas look like freestanding models at first glance but have a tilting portion at the top so you can tilt the canopy as the sun moves to stay shaded.
Offset outdoor umbrellas (also known as cantilever umbrellas) have an arched design so the stand sits to one side of the canopy. This means you don't need to have a pole in the middle of your shaded area. It's a good option for tables that don't have an umbrella hole.
The majority of outdoor umbrellas are roughly octagonal in shape, much like a standard umbrella you use in the rain. However, some are square or rectangular. A square umbrella that has the same width as an octagonal model produces a slightly larger shaded area. Some people prefer to match the shape of the umbrella to the shape of their patio table.
The size of umbrella you choose depends on the size of the area you want to shade. If you plan to put a table under your chosen umbrella, make sure the umbrella is large enough to cover it, then add two to three feet to each side to accommodate the chairs.
You can find outdoor umbrellas with LED lights set into them. This provides some illumination for use after dark.
Vents provide ventilation to keep you cool and they allow air to pass through, decreasing wind resistance and making the umbrella less likely to blow away in windy weather.
Push-up or pulley lift systems are generally found on inexpensive umbrellas, whereas crank lifts are a high-end choice.
Outdoor umbrella prices
If you want an inexpensive outdoor umbrella, you can find some basic models for between $40 and $60, but they're not the sturdiest options out there. Mid-range outdoor umbrellas priced from $60 to $90 tend to be more rugged. If you're looking for one of the best outdoor umbrellas on the market, expect to pay between $100 and $200.
Q. Can I keep my outdoor umbrella out in all kinds of weather?
A. We're not saying you should rush indoors with your umbrella at the first sign of rain, but it lasts longer if you store it in a shed or garage during the winter to protect it from snow and excessive wet weather.
Q. Are outdoor umbrellas waterproof?
A. Outdoor umbrellas are generally designed to provide shade rather than protect from the rain. However, you can find some models that are waterproof -- convenient for use in areas prone to summer showers.
Outdoor umbrellas we recommend
Best of the best: Abba Patio Rectangular Patio Umbrella
Our take: If you have a large patio area you want to shade, this 9' x 7' umbrella is big enough to do the job.
What we like: Solar-powered LED lights provide illumination for after-dark use. Can be tilted to maintain optimal shade position as the sun moves. UV-resistant and waterproof.
What we dislike: Not much in the way of color choice.
Best bang for your buck: Abba Patio Market Outdoor Table Umbrella
Our take: A basic table umbrella that's reasonably priced. Rugged with a range of excellent features.
What we like: Quick and easy to tilt with a sturdy crank lift system. The eight color choices make it easy to find one that goes with your garden décor.
What we dislike: The colors are not the same as in the photos.
Our take: If you're a fan of bold colors, these outdoor umbrellas make a great statement piece, although you can find a couple of more neutral hues, too.
What we like: Made from a sturdy polyester material. Fitted with 32 solar lights that run for up to 12 hours.
What we dislike: The vent isn't large enough to offer much wind resistance.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.