With temperatures already creeping into the triple digits, there’s no time like the present to bring the thermometer down in your outside spaces and make your backyard a place to chill (literally). Whether that’s creating a landscape design that affords shade or adding water features, MySA has compiled a list of ways to avoid overheating this summer (and actually enjoy yourself).

Keep reading for a handful of clever ways to beat the heat in your own San Antonio backyard.

Make your backyard cool in summer with landscaping, trees and plants 

The plants you choose in your backyard can make a difference in the temperature and your comfort level — you can even strategically plant things to deter insects. Here are some of the best plants to grow in your backyard in San Antonio.

Utilize plants that produce shade

Trees are a great option to provide shade in your yard, but they also provide habitats for wildlife, benefit the ecosystem and add value to your property, according to San Antonio nursery Rainbow Gardens. Rainbow Gardens’ gardening expert Lisa Mulroy, recommends planting trees that are suited for San Antonio’s unique climate and notes that the city also has incentive programs for residents to plant trees and drought-resistant plants.

Suggested trees to provide shade in San Antonio include Mexican white/Monterrey oak, live oak, Texas red oak, lacey oak and chinquapin oak, bald and Montezuma cypress and Texas ash. These trees are best planted in the fall, and though they may not be fast-growing, they have a life expectancy of a century or more. Most oak trees will grow 12-15 feet in a 10- to 15-year period, reaching around 80 feet in height when mature.

Use plants to deter pests

There are numerous plants that aren’t only aesthetically pleasing to add to a garden but do double duty as a repellent for pests like mosquitoes and flies. Citronella grass and lemon grass are perennials that deter mosquitoes and grow well in San Antonio. Lemon thyme and lemon balm both deter fleas, flies and mosquitoes, but note that they are in the mint family so they need to be confined to containers. Lavender is another winner — it not only repels bugs, it’s also drought resistant and smells nice. Basil and rosemary deter pests and you can use them in your summer meals.

Planting lavender in your yard will help repel bugs with the added bonuses that it's drought resistant and fragrant.

Planting lavender in your yard will help repel bugs with the added bonuses that it’s drought resistant and fragrant.

Camille Wesser/Getty Images

Cool your yard naturally by growing trees and plants

A yard full of plants will act as a natural air conditioner. They evaporate water, cooling the air around them. According to the New York Times, certain full-size trees can dissipate as much heat as five 10,000-B.T.U. AC units. But trees aren’t the only way to cool a yard and home. Plants like English ivy, grass and pachysandra (a short-leafed ground cover) all cool the yard by about 10 degrees. 

Shrubs planted near the home can help keep walls cooler, says home improvement guru Bob Vila. Bamboo is another plant that creates both privacy and shade, but because it is considered invasive and thrives in the San Antonio climate, residents have a love-hate relationship with the plant. Because it spreads so aggressively, it must be planted in a contained space that can’t spread into a neighbor’s yard. 

Adding an umbrella to your backyard space will help block the sun and provide a shady spot to relax or enjoy an outdoor meal.

Adding an umbrella to your backyard space will help block the sun and provide a shady spot to relax or enjoy an outdoor meal.

olesiabilkei/Getty Images

Incorporate cooling features in your backyard

Adding cooling features like umbrellas, shades, pergolas and outdoor fans is another way to beat the heat in your yard.

Shade your space with umbrellas, pergolas and canopies

The main idea when it comes to patios, pergolas, canopies and umbrellas is to shade your yard from the sun and create a cooler space. The ‘gram is full of adorable (and affordable) DIY backyard ideas that range from freestanding or table umbrellas (consider super-sizing your umbrella if you want the option to move your shade), pergolas (similar to a canopy, only with a lattice top to let in light), and canopies, which offer total shade and are mobile and easy to assemble. Sun shade sails are another option, offering a more permanent solution without having to install a costly patio or porch roof setup. 

One other note about patio temperature: A wooden deck is much hotter than concrete. If you don’t already have concrete and want to avoid a costly project, consider pavers like the ones from Aspire, which come in different colors (light colors deflect heat) and snap together like Lego bricks.

Make a breeze in your backyard with outdoor fans

Outdoor fans are a great way to create a breeze outside. There are ceiling fans that can attach to a porch roof, wall mounted fans that won’t take up valuable space in smaller areas, standing fans and table fans, depending on your needs. Outdoor fans are designed to withstand humidity and outdoor weather conditions. Some come with phone-remote control and some even have a mister feature — it all depends on space, aesthetics and personal preference.

Block light and heat with outdoor shades and curtains

Shades and curtains are a trendy solution to block out the sun. Not only can you get noise and light-canceling curtains, but they can be attached to pergolas or patios to create a sophisticated and put-together look. Shades, by contrast, roll down to block out light and can even be remote operated for easier retraction. Either way, blocking out the sunlight will help control the temperature. One thing to note, be sure whatever you decide to use is made for outdoor use, so it holds up to the elements outside.

Keep your cool by taking a dip in the water. If you don't have a swimming pool, try a plunge pool, inflatable pool, stock tank, or even a vintage bathtub.

Keep your cool by taking a dip in the water. If you don’t have a swimming pool, try a plunge pool, inflatable pool, stock tank, or even a vintage bathtub.

Cavan Images/Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

Just add water to chill in your backyard

Water is the ultimate way to stay cool in the blazing summer months, whether that’s creating a pool of some kind to take a dip or using a misting system to spritz the area.

Enjoy plunge pools, inflatable pools, cowboy pools and vintage bathtubs

Submerging yourself in water to cool off is something people of all ages enjoy. A plunge pool is an in-ground pool that’s smaller and more affordable than a traditional-sized pool (and it’s having a moment). Some people love the look (and price) of stock tanks (aka cowboy pools) or putting a spin on vintage bathtubs. You can even opt for an inflatable pool — they aren’t all just for kids.

Install misters in your backyard for a cool mist

Once the stuff of posh resorts, now you can have a cool mist blowing on you in your own backyard and be as bougie as you want to be. Misters come in the fan variety (where a portable fan blows mist on you) or a more elaborate misting system, which involves attaching hoses to parts of your patio that have nozzles spaced apart to blow mist down on you. Either way, the mist makes being outdoors pleasant and cool.

This story was edited by Hearst Newspapers Managing Editor Kristina Moy; you can contact her at [email protected].

By Ellie