As you can see, I got a shade umbrella. It will make a nice addition to the backyard, and will be a nice gathering place for my visitors. But the real function of this is to shade the area you see here. It's 7:30 am on March 22nd so I think, hopefully, I am on the right track.
Morning sun for most of the year is the best thing that these plants can get. But through May and August, the morning sun here in the Phoenix area can be brutal. I've seen people put up elaborate shade structures, but that's not for me. This is my backyard, not a greenhouse!
The plant that I am most interested in protecting from the sun this summer is the dioon spinulosum cycad. The sun won't kill it, but it will sunburn the tips, which is not very attractive.
And having a nice shady place outside to drink my coffee in the morning is a bonus! I will let you know how it goes. I'm experimenting, mostly.
The idea here is to protect the cycad from sunburn. And if I do this right, the additional shade will make the fronds longer and more elegant. The "stubby" fronds on this spinulosum are caused by the fact that it has gotten way too much sun in the last couple of years.