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The size of your umbrella will determine how much shade your space will receive. Think about how much shade you want and how much room you have. Overcrowding your patio with a too-large umbrella won't look or feel good.
Designer tip: Landscape designer John D’Urso says umbrellas ideally should be table width plus an extra 2 feet per side if possible. For example, if you have a 4-foot round table, look for an umbrella that's 8 feet in diameter.
The height of your umbrella pole is also important — you want it high enough to be out of the way, but not so high that it loses its function. Poles that are 8 feet high are the average, but there are other options. “Consider head height,” says D’Urso. “Seven-foot umbrellas are the recommended minimum.”
Table vs. Freestanding Umbrellas
Both table and freestanding umbrellas have their advantages. If you plan to serve and entertain often at the patio table, the former may be the best option.“Table umbrellas are much cheaper, and you can change it out every few years for a new look without spending a lot of money,” says D’Urso.
However, if you want the umbrella to provide shade on a separate part of your patio — like over poolside lounge chairs — a freestanding design may be best. You could also just not want a pole to interrupt your patio table. “Freestanding umbrellas allow you to use a table completely for food space or game playing,” says D’Urso.