Sunshine: winter soaking, summer shading

Winter sun and summer shade are the keys to year-round comfort in the Canberra climate. The best time to think about this is during design... not after construction. However, even once built you can often improve things greatly, particularly over summer - see our previous post for tips).

Deciduous plants such as ornamental grapes are fabulous on pergolas - not only do they let the sun in during winter and block the sun in summer, they also transpire water vapour which gives a lovely bonus cooling effect. Nature's own evaporative cooler! Plus, they provide a beautiful, colourful spectacle in autumn.

Don't just take our word for it! Read some recent client feedback below.

Summer 2017 - ornamental grapevines 4 years old.

Summer 2017 - ornamental grapevines 4 years old.

"The recent hot weather was no big deal, with ceiling fans and opening up overnight. The thick grapevine is very effective and the deck is very much another room... unless it's really raining! In winter the living areas capture the northerly sunshine beautifully." Read more about this house here.

Winter 2014 - suns soaked  & Summer 2017 - sun shaded

Winter 2014 - suns soaked  & Summer 2017 - sun shaded

"In winter I draw up an easy chair to the double doors leading to deck and sit in the streaming sun, reading with a cuppa. The northern eave stops the sun coming in during summer and I love that the pergola is now densely covered with ornamental grapevine, keeping the sun off the deck and making that area nice and cool."

"You recommended I invest in solar panels and use small electric heaters instead of gas-fuelled water radiators  and it was a great decision. The panels mean I have a very small electricity bill, even though I do like my place to be warm in winter. In summer, I still manage well with shading the east/west windows with external pull-down blinds and ceiling fans in all rooms. You told me I would not need a reverse cycle airconditioner, and you were right." Read more about this house, here.

Of course. some patience is required for the first couple of years. During that time shade cloth or bamboo screens can be used as temporary and cost-effective shading options. Our Director Jenny and her partner David are enjoying watching their baby grapevines rapidly pump out leaves and increase in height at their new house.

Dufty before grapevine grows 2017.jpg

"I'm loving watching the vines grow up on either side of our outdoor areas. If they keep going at this rate we'll have oodles of shade by summer 2020, not to mention a spectacular show of colour in autumn!"