Made in the Shade

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For most people, Memorial Day marks the official start of summer. My family and I usually spend the weekend celebrating carnival in Atlanta, but this year, we’ll have some family over, and with a few little ones in tow, we’ll more likely spend that time at home enjoying their company and avoiding the crowds. And if we’re going to be at home, we absolutely do not want to spend all our time inside the house. That, however, presents a challenge. You see, beautiful though it is, our house has zero shaded outdoor spaces. Not even at the front door. So when Walmart asked me to share a story for Memorial Day, we decided to finally tackle the shade issue so we can spend Memorial Day enjoying the warm weather without overheating.

So you’ll understand what we’re working with, this is the front of our house:

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And this is the back:

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Not a shred of shade in sight. Sitting on the back patio before 5 p.m. meant subjecting ourselves to scorching direct sun, which meant that we almost never used the patio. We even took the patio chairs in the garage, since it’s cooler to sit in there with the door open.

Thankfully, Walmart has some reasonably priced shade solutions. We thought about getting a fancy metal gazebo or one of those awesome offset patio umbrellas with fancy solar lights underneath. But at the end of the day, we are still renting, and we didn’t want to invest too much in something that may only get temporary use. Plus, we wanted something easy to put up and take down, and we know from experience that the fancy gazebos are not fun to take apart. We opted for this great 13′ x 13′ instant canopy by Chapter for $129.

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We chose it mostly based on size and looks. Some of the other instant tents looked — well — instant. This one had a bit more style, and it matched the exterior colors of our house. Plus, the packaging boasted that it could be set up in 3 minutes. Sounds like a win!

Well, setting it up took us considerably longer than that, but mostly because it was our first time ever using one of these. The frame first has to be unfolded so the canopy can be attached while it’s still relatively compact.

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The rest is just a matter of straightening out the frame so the canopy can be fully secured via some plastic hooks, corner pegs and velcro straps. The canopy can be raised to three heights, based on your preference.

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The last step was to stake it all to the ground so we won’t lose it on a windy day.

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Not rocket science, but it took us a minute to figure everything out. I imagine it will go a lot faster the next time we set it up now that we know what we’re working with. Still not 3 minutes, but a lot faster. The result, though? Completely worth the extra time spent.

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Now we have an awesome covered patio space where we can relax and enjoy the summer. The hubby can wheel the grill over onto the grass while the rest of the family relaxes nearby. Plus, every single time I step out the back door, even to go to the trash or recycling bin, I have an audience:

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Juliza is always asking to go outside, and now I finally have a cool place to observe while she plays.

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Next step: Add a few more patio chairs and maybe even a table so everyone has somewhere to sit and we could even have meals out there. It’s amazing how something so simple and relatively inexpensive can completely change the way we use our back yard. Memorial Day, here we come!

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Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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