How do you satisfy customers who want full sun on their deck so it can be enjoyed in the cooler months, but are worried about the deck being too hot in the height of summer? Maybe offer them versatility with a retractable canopy that can quickly provide shade to even relatively large outdoor areas.

In ShadeTree's canopy products, 4- or 5-foot-wide fabric panels are supported by cross-members that ride on tracks attached to overhead supports. The panels, which can be rolled out or retracted, span as far as 21 feet from the house.

Because the system is modular, it can be adapted to different deck and patio sizes, and it allows homeowners to shade part of a deck while leaving the rest of it in direct sunlight.

A variety of fabrics are available, including AirFlow mesh fabric - which the company says blocks a good deal of sunlight while allowing wind to pass through - and solid and striped acrylic fabrics that block 100 percent of sunlight. In all, there are 40 fabrics to choose from.

Canopies can be taken down in cold-weather areas to prevent winter damage. Tracks can be left up all year.

In addition to custom-cut fabric panels and tracks that are installed on a site-built wood framework, the company offers an aluminum support structure called the Bungalow. It's made from 5 1/2-inch-square posts, with a choice of two sizes of decorative capitals. The framework can be freestanding or attached to the house.

Videos explaining how the canopies are installed and operate are available at the company's website. Prices vary; the company offers an online estimator that will approximate cost based on deck or patio dimensions, model, and fabric. - S.G.

ShadeTree, 800/894-3801,