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   THE ULTIMATE UMBRELLA
 
 
 
2012 - Spring Issue
Casas Bonitas
Outdoor Living
 
Article: Jessica Muncrief
 
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In the Southwest, we love to spend time outdoors. The weather is good for it much of the year and enchanting natural landscapes are abundant. In order to make the most of your time in your outdoor living areas, a quality patio umbrella is an absolute must. It is an essential element in protecting you and your guests from the heat and glare of the desert sun. But if you think that purchasing a patio umbrella is a one-size-fits-all situation, then you have not yet explored all the options available on the market.

    Photo Captions

Photos courtesy of Caravita, West of the Wind Designs and Summer Classics.

   
  Resources

Las Cruces
Awning Company

575-541-9486
915-857-2201
lascrucesawning.com

Nash Patio and Garden
915-587-6000
nashgardens.com

The Patio
915-533-1198
thepatioelp.com

Southwestern
Home Products

915-771-0044
southwesternhomeproducts.com
To get a great umbrella, you do not need to have a patio table with a hole cut in the center. Offset umbrellas, or cantilever umbrellas, feature a base and pole that are on the side of the shaded area as opposed to extending from the umbrella's center. These versions do not obstruct the view within the shaded area and they can usually be tilted and rotated to a variety of angles, making them extremely versatile. Going beyond just the patio table, they can easily cover a seating area or a hot tub if so desired.

Beyond just providing shade and sun protection, umbrellas can be an important element of décor for your outdoor living areas. They can be quite eye-catching, so put some forethought into finding the perfect match for your exterior design. If your furniture is made of wood, you will probably want to find an umbrella with a matching pole and stand. Most market umbrellas come in either a darker, red-toned wood or a lighter, teak wood, but many manufacturers of aluminum patio umbrellas can make faux wood finishes that are the perfect match. Considering that aluminum versions are better for higher wind areas and require slightly less maintenance than wood, aluminum might be a better option for this area. If your furniture is not wooden, aluminum umbrellas come in a number of different finishes and colors, so matching should not be an issue. Umbrellas with fiberglass frames and ribs are also growing in popularity because of their superior resistance to wind.

The real focal point of your umbrella will of course be the canopy, so pick the right one. Choose a fabric that is durable, weather resistant, and fade proof. The industry leader in outdoor fabrics is Sunbrella, which not only has an impressive selection of colors and patterns, but is also recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation for its superior UV protection. Consider the shape of your umbrella also; the standard round umbrella is not your only option. A large, rectangular umbrella, for example, is probably a better option for covering a long dining table or an outdoor seating area with full-sized sofas.

Make sure you don't forget about the accessories without which your umbrella will not be complete. If your umbrella does not come with an attached base, you will need to get an umbrella stand. You can get a basic version or find a more detailed version that complements your overall décor scheme, but make sure that it is heavy enough to secure your umbrella, even in inclement weather. On that note, an umbrella cover is an important accessory if you truly want to preserve the quality and lifespan of your purchase. It is recommended that you cover your umbrella in bad weather and even consider folding it up and storing it indoors during extreme conditions. To complete the mood of your setting, also consider purchasing lights. Some patio umbrella lights wind around the pole and others can be easily attached to the edges of the canopy. Either version is great for ensuring optimal nighttime enjoyment of your patio area.

A patio umbrella is a great purchase because it not only enhances the décor of your outdoor living area, but it also increases usability and comfort by blocking the harsh rays of the sun and keeping the shaded area cool. Check out all your options before you purchase and you will be sure to get the best value for your money. ///
 
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