The best garden parasols offer shade when the sun is at its peak, letting you enjoy outdoor gatherings and al fresco dining that little bit longer. They also allow you to move your WFH set-up into the garden when the weather is good by cutting out the glare.
Plus, once you've bagged some of the best garden furniture for your outside space, a patio umbrella is the practical (and stylish) addition that will ensure you can enjoy your outdoor living area to the max.
However, once you begin shopping for a parasol for the garden it's easy to get a little overwhelmed by all of the options, which is why we're here to help break down your choices, including helping you to narrow down which of the three most popular options is most suitable for you:
– A classic patio umbrella has a central pole that can slot through the centre of an appropriate garden table and be attached to a weighted base. (You'll usually need to purchase the base separately, so check the details before you buy). Look out for a parasol with a tilting canopy that allows you to angle it better against the sun, and a wind-up crank mechanism that lets you open and close the canopy without any heavy lifting.
– A cantilever parasol or banana parasol has an offset base to allow greater flexibility in where you position it. These parasols are great for over a play area, to add shelter to the best hot tubs or over an outdoor sofa. Look for options that have a tilt and crank mechanism and offer a 360° rotating arm so the canopy can be swivelled to any position, plus a locking mechanism to keep it in your desired location.
– And lastly, if you're adding shade to a balcony, a small courtyard, or awkwardly shaped patio, then a half-moon patio umbrellas that sit flush against the wall offering a space-saving solution.
Whatever style you opt for, we’ve got you covered with our round-up of the best garden parasols for every outdoor space, so read on to find the best design for you.
The best garden parasols 2023
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This affordable garden parasol offers great value for money, with a durable aluminium construction that will resist rusting, a crank handle for easy opening, and a useful tilt function for adjusting the angle of the canopy to get the best coverage of shade, all for less than £40 (excluding the base weights).
In our tests, the crank handle was easy to operate and did a smooth job of raising and lowering the canopy, and the tilt button was easy to depress to achieve optimum shade coverage, something that can often be a struggle with non-tilting patio umbrellas. We also found the assembly to be fast and easy, with the two poles quickly slotting together via depressing a push-button that then locks the upper pole into place; all our testers agreed that this was an easier option than a screw-fit assembly where you're left supporting the parasol's weight for longer.
There is also a great range of canopy colour options to choose from, whether you opt for the neutral cream canopy that will resist fading, or the darker grey or black options to create a smart look. The only slight disappointment is the canopy UV protection, which although decent at a UV30+ protection rating, falls a little short of the highest UV50+ rating. And, there's no canopy tie sewn into this model for keeping the canopy neat and secured when it's not in use; not a dealbreaker for us, but might frustrate some.
Overall this garden parasol offers a great mix of style, practicality, and ease of use though, and all at a very reasonable price.
If you're looking for a small garden parasol, and one that won't break the bank, then SONGMICS 2m canopy umbrella offers some great features at a budget price point.
As well as fitting neatly into smaller gardens, the compact canopy offers the maximum UV50+ protection, blocking 98% of UV rays, and has the highly useful tilting canopy feature that makes angling that sun protection where it will do the most good an easy task.
Just like Christow's similar offering, we found the crank handle easy to operate to wind the canopy up and down with zero heavy lifting, and the tilt button was easy to depress. We also like the addition of a sewn-on velcro fastening tie to keep the canopy neat when it's not in use.
Our only gripe was that this parasol comes with screw-fit assembly to connect the lower and upper pole, and whilst it's simple enough for a fit and healthy person to attach the two singlehandedly, the design means you're left supporting the weight of the canopy for a while whilst you twist the poles into position, and you need to be wary of ensuring you screw the poles together in perfect alignment to prevent any damage to the thread.
At this price, and with such high-factor UV-protection, we still think this is a worthy contender on the patio umbrella playing field though.
If you have the budget to invest in a patio umbrella with some wow factor, then this stylish and practical cantilever parasol certainly delivers all of the bells and whistles to impress visitors. Just make sure you have the space for its generous canopy.
The cantilever design allows for easier positioning around a seating or dining area (without a central pole to negotiate), and the 3m diameter canopy that comes with UV 50+ protection offers a great amount of shade. Plus, you have a tilt function to angle the canopy into the sun, and a crank winding mechanism for easier opening of the weighty canopy.
The build feels robust and although there's only one colour option, the anthracite grey canopy makes a super stylish addition to any patio space, plus, there's a hidden surprise once dusk falls... the canopy spokes are fitted with solar-powered LED lights, creating the perfect ambiance for alfresco dining and late evening sundowners.
For the classic English country garden look, you just can't beat a wooden garden parasol, and this compact option certainly delivers in the style and affordability stakes.
The FSC-certified eucalyptus wood pole is contrasted by a cream canopy, making it the perfect garden parasol for adding a timeless and traditional touch to your outside space.
Functionality-wise it is fairly no-frills, lacking any UV protection and not offering a tilted canopy or wind-up crankshaft for easier opening. However, you do get a choice of sizes, with a larger 2.7m canopy version also available, the option of a green canopy to blend better into the garden foliage.
This reasonably priced rust-resistant aluminium cantilever parasol offers 360° free-arm rotation operated by a foot pedal to enable you to easily swing the canopy around as the sun moves without moving the base, and the ability to lock the canopy into position once you've found just the right position. The canopy also tilts, offering even more ability to fine-tune your shade.
And, if you're looking for a cantilever garden parasol but are working with a smaller garden, the 2.5m diameter canopy is a useful alternative to the usual 3m diameter options.
The build feels a little less robust than models three times the price (as is to be expected) although it's still pretty hefty to set up, so we definitely recommend it as a two-person job. And, as with all the models on our list, you'll need to buy base weights separately to secure it in place.
The canopy itself is water-resistant but offers a little less sun protection than some with a mid-range UV30+ rating. You also don't get the LED lights with this option, although with a significant cost saving we'd be happy to sacrifice the built-in option and consider some different outdoor lighting ideas instead.
If you want your garden parasol to add a little extra wow-factor on a balmy summer evening, then this option comes well-equipped with twinkle, featuring 32 LED lights dotted along its spokes. Powered by a compact solar panel that screws into the top of the parasol pole, the gentle illumination is perfect for adding a little romance to an evening soiree; a generous 6-8 hours worth of illumination in fact.
And this parasol doesn't disappoint in the daytime either, with a 2.7m canopy that offers UV50+ sun protection alongside a tilt mechanism to angle your shade, and a crank handle for easy lifting and lowering of the parasol. We also like the addition of a sewn-on velcro fastening tie to keep the canopy neat when it's not in use.
As mentioned previously, we personally find a push-fit pole assembly slightly easier to operate than this screw-fit design, but considering the features this parasol delivers at a great value price point, it's a preference we're more than happy to overlook.
If you want flexibility at a great price, then this super useful portable beach umbrella can bring some handy shade to the lawn, beach, or park thanks to its ground spike that secures it into soft earth, or – if you buy a base to secure it – it can be used to add shade to a smaller patio.
The collapsible design also comes with a handy carry bag, so you can easily pack it up and take it with you on a day out or just store it away easily when it's not in use.
Considering the price, this option also has some good features, including the useful tilting function that allows you to angle the canopy into the sun to create a greater area of shade, and UV 50+ sun protection to help reduce the risk of burning.
There's also a push-button for easier opening, and the pole is height adjustable, to better enable you to get the shade where you want it when you're lying down.
How to choose the best garden parasol for your outdoor space
When it comes to finding the best outdoor parasol to suit your needs, there are a few factors we'd recommend taking into account. These include:
Most commonly garden parasols come in 2m, 2.4m, 2.7m, 3m and 4m diameter canopy sizes, and it's well worth measuring this out on your patio before you shop, as the circular design can often take up a lot more space than you think!
Also take into account the umbrellas pole height to ensure the canopy will have enough clearance around any roof overhangs or awnings, and most crucially, that it’s not in danger of spontaneous combustion courtesy of a too-close barbecue.
If you're looking for a patio umbrella to shade a seating or dining area, the following guidelines offer a rough rule of thumb; consider a 2 metre canopy for two seats; 2.4 metres for four to six seats; 2.7 to 3 metres for six to eight; and 4 metres for 10 seats.
You can also find half parasols that are perfect for smaller patios and balcony spaces.
Generally the more patio umbrella functionality you opt for then the more you'll pay, but it can be well worth it to score a patio umbrella that actually delivers useful shade when and where you need it.
We think the most important feature to invest in is a tilt function, because, as you soon learn when you put up a patio umbrella without this functionality, the sun rarely tends to be directly above. A tilt adjustment allows you to angle the canopy to create shade when the sun is a little lower in the sky, and it helps to create a shaded area where you need it, without having to drag the umbrella around.
If you're not blessed with Herculean muscles or great height then it's useful to add a winding crank mechanism to your wishlist. This means you get a handle at a (generally) more accessible height that's attached to a pulley mechanism that opens the canopy as you wind. All that canopy fabric can be heavier than you think, so it's a useful feature to look out for.
If you opt for a cantilever parasol, and have a large patio area that you want to shade, then it can be worth looking for an option with a 360° rotating arm that will again help you to get the shade where you need it. Cantilever parasols tend to be very heavy, so this is an option you won't want to be dragging around. A parasol that has free-arm rotation is best when it also has a locking mechanism added to the mix so that the canopy doesn't blow around if there's a bit of a breeze.
Although it can still be wise to wear sunscreen no matter which garden parasol you pick, some offer much more sun protection than others. The highest protection tends to be a UV50+ rating, with the next best the mid-range UV30+, and many patio umbrellas not offering any protection at all, despite lulling you into a false sense of security with the shade. Check the specifications to make sure you know what you're getting.
Look for a parasol pole made of rust-resistant aluminium for the best weather-resistance outdoors. They'll also be lighter to move than a powder-coated steel or iron alternative.
Where to buy garden parasol bases
Very few garden parasols come with a base included, although, unless you opt for an umbrella with a ground spike, you'll definitely need base weights to make your parasol safe and secure and to stop it from taking flight in a breeze.
However, pretty much anywhere that sells garden parasols will also offer a selection of base weights, so it's easy to find an option to suit. Just make sure to check the base will fit the diameter of your parasol pole – many bases come with adapters to fit a range of the most common pole sizes, but it pays to check first before you buy – and that you're buying a base heavy enough for your parasol; the ideal weight should be specified by the parasol manufacturer.
Parasol bases can either be one solid piece, that's either square or round (round options may be easier to roll into place across the patio if you're not keen on heavy lifting), or larger patio umbrellas tend to come with crossbars included and require bases that are built from segments. These segments can either be concrete or hollow plastic containers that you fill with sand or water to add weight in situ.
- Shop garden parasol bases at Amazon
- Shop garden parasol bases at Argos
- Shop garden parasol bases at Christow
- Shop garden parasol bases at Homebase
- Shop garden parasol bases at John Lewis & Partners
How we chose the best garden parasols
As well as judging by aesthetics, to find the best garden parasols for this list we dived into the specifications to sort the wheat from the chaff, tried and tested bestsellers, grilled the Real Homes team for their expert knowledge, asked friends and family for their top-rated products, and took into account third party reviews on retailer websites. Click here to find out more about how we review products on Real Homes
In-stock garden parasols
As the sun gets stronger garden parasols tend to fly out of stock fast, so if our top picks aren't available when you come to shop, and you don't want to wait for a re-stock, then you can use our handy shopping tool below to browse in-stock garden parasols that are available to buy right now.
Simply scroll to the right to see more options at a gradually increasing price point, and click to go through to the retailer to shop.
Looking for more garden inspiration?
Garden furniture looking a bit shabby now you have a brand new garden parasol to keep them shady? Find the latest looks in our guides to the best sun loungers, the best rattan garden furniture, and our ultimate edit of the best garden benches.
Or find out the easiest ways to transform your outdoor space with the help of our stylish garden ideas.