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9 best garden parasols: Stay cool in the summer heat with these shades

Transform your patio space with a brolly that’s pretty and practical

Ali Howard
Tuesday 01 June 2021 14:35
<p>Giving you both shade and a stylish focal point, no patio set-up is complete without a garden brolly</p>

Giving you both shade and a stylish focal point, no patio set-up is complete without a garden brolly

It won’t be long before we’re ditching the umbrella in favour of a garden parasol, swapping the rain for summer rays. Indeed, there’s glorious sunshine ahead so be prepared for the best.

Giving you both shade and a stylish focal point, no patio set-up is complete without a garden brolly, whether you’re lunching al fresco or screening from the sun on your luxury lounger.  With some high street names getting in on the act, the garden centre is no longer the only outlet for purchasing a parasol – and this is pushing prices down.

That said, the luxury end of the market has opened up, too, with some dedicated parasol brands offering beautiful pieces complete with hand-crafted wooden poles and chic block-printed fabrics.

You’ll find the larger parasols come with a user-friendly crank mechanism to save you from struggling under the heavy canopy, as well as a handy tilt function that gives you extra control of your shade when the sun moves around. Almost all parasols are sold without a base, so factor that into your budget. It’s wise to invest in one that’s heavy duty, keeping your parasol firmly grounded and steady in the summer breeze.

As pretty as a parasol looks 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 for parasols with a UV protective coating to give you that extra peace of mind.

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We put our top garden parasols to the test, looking for design and functionality and making sure they hold up aesthetically, as well as physically.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

These are the best parasols for 2021:

  • Best overall – Dunelm Shanghai coral crank parasol: £39,
  • Best for laid back glamour – Oliver Bonas blue & white fan print parasol: £235,
  • Best for contemporary statement – Fatboy striped woven and aluminium parasol, 200cm: £290,
  • Best for pole-free tablescaping – Outsunny 3m banana parasol sunshade garden umbrella: £85.99,
  • Best for understated elegance – Hayes Garden World 2.2m round aluminium crank deluxe parasol: £64.99,
  • Best bang for your buck – Argos Home 1.6m garden parasol, seagull: £20,
  • Best for complete coverage – Dakota Fields Rosenda rectangular traditional parasol: £49.99,
  • Best for special occasions – East London Parasol Company grey Aretha octagonal parasol: From £965,

Dunelm Shanghai coral crank parasol

Best: Overall

This pretty garden brolly takes its inspiration from east Asia with its numerous spokes that allow for a perfectly rounded form. The Shanghai parasol may boast delicate shaping but don’t be fooled: it is a solid and well-made product with a strong metal pole, reliable crank handle and user-friendly push-button tilt; while its hardy, weatherproof canopy in coral brings a vibrant, contemporary colour pop to the garden. At under £40, this one’s also enticingly affordable.

Oliver Bonas blue and white fan print parasol

Best: For laid back glamour

We were very excited to learn that Oliver Bonas has expanded its outdoor offering with a bijou collection (read just two products) of garden parasols. Unsurprisingly, these are on the luxury end of both the design and price scale.

This one is a summery beauty with its geometric fan print in blue and white, and its decorative pole in a mid-toned sal wood. The canopy is made from 100 per cent cotton and boasts shower-resistant properties – although you wouldn’t want to leave it out in the rain. Proving both pretty and strong, it is a statement patio piece and we loved the French Riviera-inspired fringing.

Fatboy striped woven and aluminium parasol, 200cm

Best: For a contemporary statement

Perfectly placed between preppy and nautical, Dutch brand Fatboy’s striped parasol brings an entirely fresh look to our patio space this summer. This one boasts a sturdy pole in aluminium, while its woven canopy is designed for standing up to the wind.

We loved its wide stripes in soft black (or anthracite) and white. The parasol also stands out for its sharp angular shaping; its sailboat-like red cord, and its cute finishing touch: a branded flag at the top. It’s not cheap for a practical garden brolly but it is a design-led beauty.

Outsunny 3m banana parasol sunshade garden umbrella

Best: For pole-free tablescaping

A cantilever-style parasol is a great choice if you have a treasured outdoor dining table that you don’t want to ruin by drilling a hole through the centre, or indeed if you don’t want your sightline interrupted over dinner with an imposing pole. Outsunny’s banana umbrella sits at the end of the table yet it offers ample shade. It’s strong and sturdy with a crank winding mechanism and features a black powder-coated iron frame, reinforced steel ribs and a cross-shaped base for extra balance and support. The polyester canopy is reliably weather-proof. We loved the red wine colourway: perfect for evening drinks.

Hayes Garden World 2.2m round aluminium crank deluxe parasol

Best: For understated elegance

If you’re after a classic look, this hexagonal garden umbrella offers modern elegance, bringing hotel-style luxury to our patio spaces. The parasol boasts a smooth crank action while its easy tilt is a nifty feature, allowing us to adjust the weatherproof canopy to suit our position in the sun.

This one comes in a range of hues including lavender and lime green, which we found to be unusual but refreshing choices for a parasol. Hayes Garden World allows you to have a super sturdy concrete base in either 15kg or 25kg to keep it firmly in place.

Argos Home 1.6m garden parasol, seagull

Best: Bang for your buck

You don’t have to own a beach-front abode to enjoy the sight of seagulls in your back garden. We loved this quirky parasol for its coastal bird illustrations on a pretty sky blue background. Retro in design, the garden umbrella is a classic with its round shaping and its scalloped overhang. This one goes up manually and boasts a tilt mechanism for when the sun moves around.

At 160cm in diameter, it’s on the smaller – and lighter – end of the scale but at just £20, it offers incredible value for money. An affordable way to add a fresh look to the terrace.

Dakota Fields Rosenda rectangular traditional parasol

Best: For complete coverage

This retro-styled parasol is as practical as it is nostalgic. The look recalls oldschool camping holidays while the rectangular shaping offers full coverage from the sun when used for outdoor dining.

The polyester canopy, with its generous flounce, boasts water-repellent and UV-resistant properties, while the elongated sun shade is held up with reliably strong powder-coated aluminium struts. The brolly is height adjustable and has a nifty tilt mechanism, too. It’s also ideal for keeping a rectangular balcony space cool and covered.

East London Parasol Company grey Aretha octagonal parasol

Best: For special occasions

This eco-conscious brand offers high-end, hand-crafted garden brollies in striking block-printed fabrics. The chevron-striped grey Aretha is one standout patio piece, not least for its sunshiny primrose yellow interior that continues to glow when the sky clouds over.

We loved its Arabian-inspired flounce and its thick cotton tassels. Beautiful inside and out, you’ll find a pale wood frame with quality brass fittings, while the canopy is easily removable for cleaning. Just shy of £1,000, this is one heck of a pricey parasol, but it guarantees to induce awe in garden guests.

The verdict: Garden parasols

Dunelm’s Shanghai coral crank parasol is an impressive buy for quality versus affordability. It stands up (literally) amongst other, more expensive, products and it looks the part, too. We loved its pretty shaping and its vibrant colour.

On the pricier end, Oliver Bonas’ blue and white fan print parasol is a beautiful, craft-driven piece that proves a real showstopper on the patio.

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