It’s not officially summer until you’ve had your first whiff of a delicious barbecue – and it’s not a good summer until you’ve stood over the grill yourself. The trouble is, by the time you’ve pulled your grill out from the back of the shed, the sun has usually gone in – so it pays to be prepared! If you’re serious about getting your grill on, get your tongs ready and check out our list of garden BBQ area ideas and tips.
We’re all about having a section of your garden that’s dedicated to cooking. That’s not necessarily a whole outdoor kitchen (although we’ve got some tips coming up in another post if you want to build one), but a clean, comfortable space outside where you can light your barbecue at a moment’s notice.
Garden BBQ Area Ideas: The Grill
The most essential component for any barbecue area is, of course, the grill itself. Having a grill that you’re comfortable cooking on and actually enjoy using is going to make a huge difference to your barbecue life.
Key considerations are going to be how much you’re prepared to spend on a new appliance, and where exactly you’re going to position it in your garden. Are you planning to give your barbecue a permanent home on your patio, or will you still be putting it away once the weather gets colder?
Portable vs. In-Built BBQ
There is no “right” answer when it comes to choosing between a portable, or freestanding, barbecue and one that’s a permanent fixture in your garden – it’s down to whatever works best for your household.
Portable grills are generally better for small gardens; they have the advantage of being compact and easy to move around if you need the space for something else. However, they don’t come with the same safety features as in-built grills, and you’ll need to be careful not to set it up near anything flammable or heat-sensitive every time you get it going.
On the flip side, in-built grills are usually designed with better safety features that minimise excessive heat. Once they’re safely installed somewhere, you won’t need to worry so much every time you get them going. Plus, they’re typically much bigger than portable grills, so you can cook more food at once – perfect if you generally cook for several people.
Charcoal vs. Gas BBQs
If you’ve only ever used portable barbecues before, you’ll now be faced with a choice between cooking with charcoal or gas. Do you know the difference?
Charcoal is the traditional BBQ technique, and there are plenty of people that can’t conceive of cooking with anything else. Although it takes longer to heat up, lots of cooks like taking that time to prep their food – and charcoal’s smokiness gives everything you eat that classic barbecue flavour.
On the other hand, cooking with gas is for anyone that likes to be able to grill at a moment’s notice. Gas gets up to temperature much faster, and makes it easier to control the heat.
When you plan your garden BBQ area ideas, remember that eating outside should be just as comfortable as eating inside.
You don’t need to go overboard with furnishings; a sturdy table and enough seats for everyone you’re feeding is really all that’s essential. Of course, there’s plenty of ways you can go overboard, if you feel like it. A comfortable lounge area gives you somewhere to sit while the food is cooking, and an excuse to hang out in your garden all summer long.
Preparing Your Patio
Splashing out on a new barbecue? Do it some justice by freshening up the space you’re going to put it in first. If you reckon it’s time for a total patio overhaul, take a look at some of our inspiring patio ideas.
At the very least give your patio floor and walls and fences a clean. Soap and warm water is all that’s needed – although a power washer will make the job much quicker if the surfaces are made from something sturdy. I guarantee that a thorough clean will make you patio look a million times better without doing anything else at all!
Fed up of going back and forth between your kitchen and the garden? Having a dedicated outdoor kitchen area lets you have everything you need nearby, perfect for parties and entertaining guests.
While the good stuff gets grilling, you can be more efficiently prepping the extra bits – and means you won’t run the risk of burning whatever you’re cooking on the grill while you’re running inside to grab the salad for your guests. Plus, it’ll be easier to set up an assembly area for people to add their own burger or hot dog toppings.
Garden BBQ Area Ideas: Extra Touches
Ready to turn up the heat? Add a little variety to your garden barbecue area with some of these fun additions.
Add some variety to your barbecue nights with the addition of a brick oven. Not only are wood-fired ovens generally quite attractive, they’re multi-purpose, too. Yes, you can cook pizza in mere moments, but you can use the indirect heat to cook steaks or seafood at the same time.
There’s just something classy about brick ovens, and they add a charming, rustic vibe to any garden.
Garden barbecue parties are fantastic daytime events, but it can get a bit chilly once the grill cools down. Keep the party going by buying (or building) a fire pit as the centrepiece of your seating area. Fire pits generally make a great garden focal point, and can help you use your garden as a social space even in colder months.
You can even use your fire pit as a grill, if you have somewhere to safely place a cooking rack. If you like the idea of a campfire at home, try using a fire pit to cook meat, roast marshmallows and stay warm.
If you don’t fancy a fire pit, make sure you’ve got some alternative garden lighting to help your party last after dusk. From delicate fairy lights to bright, practical task lighting: check out our post that’s all about garden lighting ideas for inspiration.
You can never be too sure about when rain will hit. Even if you intend to keep your barbecuing to the summer months, you might still find yourself cooking under an umbrella! Build some kind of shelter – for the chef, for the diners, or for both – and there won’t be anything to worry about.
A simple parasol or gazebo would do the trick, but if you’re committing to a barbecue area upgrade, it might be worth building something more permanent. A pergola or lean-to attached to your house will give you shade and shelter year-round. Adding trellis, mesh or canvas to otherwise open sides will add a bit more protection from the elements, but don’t forget that you’ll want the heat and smoke to escape the immediate barbecue area.
Tips for Cleaning a BBQ
Keeping your grill clean will both make it more pleasant to use and extend its life considerably. Unfortunately, between the grease, oils and burned-on food, that’s not always the easiest task.
For the best results, you want to use a damp sponge and a specific BBQ cleaning solution. Try and start wiping it down while the parts are still warm – the heat helps the grease and burned-on bits slide off (you can always soak it if it’s cooled down by the time you start cleaning).
A couple of ways to make your job easier:
- Oil your grill rack before you cook, and keep it oiled as you go. This should prevent food from getting stuck to it (and will give your food those grill marks you always see in adverts).
- Noticing some rust spots on your grill? You can use a wire brush to scrub off the rust patches so you can start cooking again.
- A more unconventional hack is to slice an onion in half, and rub it over the grill rack while it’s still warm to dissolve and dislodge stuck-on food.
- Apparently, pouring beer over the grill rack and using newspaper to scrub it clean is another good method. Personally, I would rather drink the beer!
- Take the time to properly dry your grill after you clean it to prevent rust developing between uses.
Looking for more ways to use your garden? We’ve got fun ideas for the whole family! Take a look at ways to make your garden more dog-friendly, how to set up a garden cinema, or tips for creating the ultimate sunbathing space.