Our Guide To Garden Parasols

Everyone enjoys a certain amount of sunshine, but there comes a time when some shade is preferable, and that's when a parasol comes in handy.

Perhaps when you're dining outside with friends or if the sun becomes just too intense to sunbathe, you need the cool shade that a parasol provides.

Many of the top manufacturers, for example Alexander Rose and Barlow Tyrie, offer parasols to complement their ranges of outdoor furniture. There are also specialist makers such as Glatz, Westminster and Garden Must Haves, so there are numerous options for your patio, decking, lawn or pool side.

Poles can be wood, stainless steel or aluminium, and the most popular canopy material is polyester due to its durability and waterproof qualities. UV resistance and weatherproof qualities varies with the fabric used for the canopy that can be square, rectangular, round or circular in shape.

As well as being adjustable in height, many parasols can be tilted at an angle and rotated to create shade throughout the day.

Perhaps the most comprehensive range taking into account size, shape and colour is offered by Alexander Rose in their accessories collection. As you might expect all their products are of the highest quality and include cantilever parasols in addition to those made specifically to fit their outdoor furniture.

Barlow Tyrie parasols can shade their furniture or be freestanding in any open space. Their collection also includes 'Sail' sunshades with a Sunbrella acrylic canvas canopy attached to two poles with an optional rear curtain.

Glatz have the largest range from an independent maker, their offering is very diverse and there must be one that suits your taste and requirements. The material used for their parasol canvas is protected by Teflon and Scotchgard and, with a UPF 50+ rating, is particularly effective in filtering out harmful UV rays.

The AluSmart which slides into position and AluTwist Parasol with a crank handle are their most accessible models with either a rectangular or circular canopy that can be tilted at an angle of 45º. With a maximum diameter of nearly 11ft you'll need a substantial base which is sold separately or ground socket and there are up to five colours to choose from.

Both of these styles are designed to be centrally located, probably utilizing a parasol hole in the middle of a table. However, the Sunwing and Sombrano square and circular parasols, both of which can be tilted and rotated, are supported by a very strong offset pole. A huge area of shade can therefore be created with no obstruction.

A wall mounted parasol is available from Garden Must Haves who also manufacture a beautiful range of oriental inspired parasols, the colourful Geisha and Blossom models with matching bases have multiple ribs and reference those carried to protect the delicate complexion of the eponymous geisha girls.

Cantilever parasols that tilt and rotate are also made by Westminster but this is a company most well known for the Sunrise and Sunset ranges that feature LEDs, these ensure your summer's evening doesn't end when the sun disappears below the horizon as bright illumination then takes over.

Thoughtful innovation is also shown by Charles Bentley, another independent maker whose elegant range includes the Balcony Half Parasol, semi-circular in shape, it's perfect for restricted areas that can't accommodate a full size parasol.