Pergolas and Sails in Ann Arbor MI: How to Choose The Right Shade Solution

Posted on May 1, 2021

As the weather warms up in Ann Arbor MI, we’re all looking forward to enjoying the benefits of spending time in our outdoor spaces. Few things are as relaxing or rejuvenating as a sunny afternoon in your own backyard, whether you’re entertaining friends, playing with the kids, or simply taking some “me-time”. 

But while we appreciate the freedom that summer brings, the Michigan sun can be overwhelming. Nobody wants their outdoor plans scuppered by weather, which is why more and more people are investing in shade and pergola structures for their Ann Arbor backyards. 

These shade structures range from small, unassuming shelters to elaborate outdoor rooms, and can be designed according to a homeowner’s budget, goals, and taste. Elements like outdoor lighting, climbing plants, built-in seating, and firepits or cooking stations can easily be incorporated into the design, for unique and functional shaded sanctuaries that work for your Sanctuary.  

The following structures are ideal for your outdoor space.


Pergolas are freestanding wooden structures that usually consist of a set of posts, an open trelliswork roof, and sometimes side features for seating, storage or privacy. They’re the perfect combination of outdoor and indoor living, providing both shade and natural light, as well as fresh air and protection from the elements. 

Pergolas are easy to accessorize with additions like outdoor lighting, heaters, and curtains all popular choices. Often, people will train creeping plants to climb the top and sides of the structure, creating a living sanctuary for relaxation and sheltering from the sun. 

For a four-season experience, retractable canopies are an excellent option. These convenient covers can be extended to provide shelter from the rain, then folded away quickly and effortlessly when the clouds have cleared.


Much like a pergola, a trellis is a freestanding, typically wooden structure, constructed from columns and lattice panels. The key difference is that, unlike a pergola, trellises do not have roofs, and often feature tighter weaving throughout. 

The addition of climbing plants to trellises can enhance their appeal, creating an attractive and creative way to split a patio or deck into distinct areas.


Cabanas are outdoor structures consisting of three light-weight walls, curtains, or panels, with one open side. They are often found on beaches and poolside at luxury resorts, providing a private place to change or relax and shelter from the sun. 

The versatility of these structures has gained them increasing popularity among homeowners thanks to their multiple uses like yoga studios, dining areas, games rooms, and alfresco home movie theaters.

Premium Pergolas and Shades in Ann Arbor MI

When it comes to choosing the right pergola or shade sail for your Ann Arbor backyard, it’s essential to opt for a high-quality structure designed to stand the test of time. By choosing a premium product with proper warranties, you can rest easy knowing that your investment was worthwhile. 

A well-designed shade structure will pay equal attention to its looks and function. It should work alongside the existing features of your landscape and offer a seamless experience that serves your lifestyle. The materials, size, and added features should all be considered within the context of how you intend to use the structure, as well as what looks best in your outdoor space. A pergola that seats two isn’t much good if you have a family of five to accommodate!

For this reason, we always recommend working with a dedicated design-build company, rather than purchasing a ready-made structure online. Not only does this ensure quality materials and installation, but it also means the final product will be made to fit your exact specifications. A designer will be able to point out things you might not have considered, and guide you through the process as your ideas develop.

Custom Shades in Ann Arbor

Lotus Gardenscapes has been creating beautiful, functional outdoor spaces in the Ann Arbor area for more than a decade. Our team of landscape designers and architects is made up of experienced professionals, each with their own portfolio of custom-made shade structures. From pergolas and cabanas to trellises and shade sails, Lotus is committed to creating outdoor sanctuaries that bring a touch of luxury to your space. 

As an authorized Struxure vendor, we can install the company’s renowned pergolas and cabanas, giving our customers a choice of some of the best quality structures in the country. With a wide range of designs, colorways, and technical add-ons, Struxure’s product line offers a flexible solution without compromising on style. 

Lotus Gardenscapes, Inc is a nationally recognized design/build landscape company located in Ann Arbor, MI. We have been widely acknowledged for our customer-focused and effective custom designs, as well as our attention to detail and artistry. The team at Lotus takes pride in bringing the highest standards in construction to our clients and specializes in creating “wow” moments for homeowners in Ann Arbor. 

If you’re interested in a high-quality pergola or shade sail, then fill out our Design Survey to get started.