9 best garden parasols: Seek shade during the heatwave and beyond

Get respite from the sun rays with one of these chic outdoor additions

Ali Howard
Wednesday 24 June 2020 09:30
We tested form and function, making sure they held up aesthetically, as well as physically
We tested form and function, making sure they held up aesthetically, as well as physically

The addition of a stylish parasol to your patio furniture set up ensures an outdoor oasis in an instant, such is its big impact appeal.

Not only offering shade to your outdoor dining table, a garden brolly can offer respite from the summer rays when used over a bistro set or luxury sun lounger.

You’ll find larger parasols come with a user-friendly crank mechanism to save you from struggling under the heavy canopy, and some also offer a handy tilt function that gives you extra control of your shade, rather than having to shift your garden chairs around to stay out of the sun.

Parasol bases are usually sold separately, allowing you the option to buy one that will complement your garden furniture. It’s wise to invest in a heavy-duty base that will keep your parasol firmly grounded and steady in the summer breeze.

If you’re looking to use your parasol as a standalone piece, as opposed to one that’s placed in the central hole in your garden table, go for the heaviest option available to avoid the whole thing toppling over – a 25kg concrete number will do the job.

As pretty as a parasol can look, it does, of course, come with important health benefits.

Beyond the obvious use as a physical sun shield, some canopy fabrics boast additional sun protection, so look out for parasols with a UV protective coating to give you that extra peace of mind.

We put our top parasols to the test looking for form and function – making sure they hold up aesthetically, as well as physically.

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Supremo 2.5m crank and tilt Riviera parasol and base

Modern and elegant, this hexagonal shaped garden umbrella brings hotel style luxury to our patio spaces at an affordable price. The parasol boasts a smooth crank action while its easy tilt is a nifty feature, allowing us to adjust the canopy to suit our position in the sun. This one comes in a range of calming, nature inspired colours including lavender and pacific blue, but we loved ours in the garden blending old green. Top marks too for including a super sturdy concrete base in either 15kg or the back breaking 25kg for added security.

All Things Brighton Beautiful garden umbrella

Some beach style parasols can be all too flimsy, but this nautical number strikes the perfect balance between quality and affordability. The black and white umbrella instantly upped the glamour in our garden, proving that simple monochrome stripes are never not chic (thank you, Coco Chanel). The parasol features a strong steel pole and a durable and weatherproof canopy that measures 1.8m in diameter. This one is sturdy enough for a patio feature, yet lightweight enough to pack up and take to the seaside.

Raj Tent Club Riviera parasol blue stripe

For a more luxurious take on chic coastal stripes, Raj Tent Club’s aptly named Riviera parasol is a must. It’s shaped like a traditional beach umbrella with its undulating edges. These are further emphasised with plush fringing in natural ecru cotton. Reliably sturdy and well made, this is an investment piece for the patio that will last for years. Top eco marks too for the timber pole that’s crafted from reclaimed wood. This one’s not to be left out in the rain.

Ella James garden parasol with green trim

We loved this large garden parasol for its understated elegance. Its simple wide stripe in a soft sage green makes a charming contrast to the taupe and awards it a fashionable edge over its plain, single colour counterparts. It’s also great value for money coming in at under £100 for a brolly that reaches a full 3m in diameter. The height adjustable parasol features a strong metal pole with an easy to use crank handle. Timeless, sophisticated, and a stylish addition to the modern patio.

Norfolk Leisure geisha parasol

This pretty garden brolly takes its inspiration from traditional Japanese geisha parasols with its numerous spokes that allow for a perfectly round shape. Unlike most garden parasols, this one boasts 24 fibreglass ribs awarding it its distinctive form. But the shaping is the only thing that’s delicate: It has a strong aluminium pole, reliable crank handle and user-friendly push button tilt; while its hardy, weatherproof canopy comes in a range of bold shades to add a contemporary colour pop to the garden.

East London Parasol Company Olivia, 2m bamboo

This is a sustainability conscious brand that reimagines the colourful parasols of India and Bali and brings them into our own back gardens. The Olivia is an ornate affair in scarlet and gold, featuring a hand carved pole with decorative gold detailing, as well as an intricate hand painted lotus pattern on the canopy. We loved the luxurious fringing that’s offset with hot pick tassels. At 1.9m in diameter, this is a pricey buy for a smaller parasol, but it is the height of bohemian luxe.

Bridgman 3.5m siesta round cantilever parasol, pistachio

Our most expensive pick of the parasols is, rightfully, also the largest, reaching a whopping 3.5m – this one will happily sit over a sprawling patio lounge set and feel appropriate for its size. The cantilever design neatly tucks the pole and base out of the way without the need for a central hole in our outdoor dining table. It’s also easily adjustable to different angles. We loved that we could keep the garden party going into the evening with the option to add an LED light with Bluetooth speakers.

Kingsleeve 3m sun parasol, half

With thoughtful design, even those with tight balcony spaces can enjoy some outdoor summer shade. We loved this ingenious half parasol that looks like it’s been split down the middle and sits flush against the wall. What it lacks in diameter it makes up for in width. At 3m, the polyester water repellent canopy stretches far, giving you ample sun protection as you enjoy your morning coffee. Fittingly, it’s half the price of typical garden parasol, too. Currently out of stock, so keep an eye out for when it’s back.

QVC innovators 1.8m embellished parasol

Not all parasols are designed to go over large outdoor dining tables. This diminutive number works best in between a pair of sun loungers, or over a smaller bistro set – perfect for those short on patio space. But what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in glamour with its pretty tassels. In elegant cream, it recalls the parasols of Victorian women taking a stroll along the beachfront in long dresses – and we loved this fun, vintage aesthetic. The metal pole is sturdy, and the canopy is showerproof, although you’ll want to store this one away in the shed when it rains.

The verdict: Garden parasols

The Supremo 2.5m crank and tilt Riviera parasol and base proved great value for money. The heavy-duty concrete base ensures the parasol is kept upright and secure, while the durable umbrella is a clean lined and contemporary addition to the patio space.

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