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How to create a great BBQ in your garden

By Rebecca Milligan

More of us are hosting barbecues than ever before. We reveal the best place to cook in your garden.

Everyone loves a BBQ – friends, family, a few drinks in the garden. Maybe it’s the British climate that makes us rush outside as soon as the sun comes out, and then stay out there doggedly even when it goes back in again.

You can buy small, disposable barbecues for just a few pounds. But if you want to make the most of outdoor cooking and entertaining, a larger BBQ or outdoor kitchen will enable you to make the most of BBQ opportunities and cater for a larger group. Barbecues are so popular that developers often incorporate patio areas and built-in BBQs into the gardens of new properties. But what if you don’t have a dedicated area in your garden?

Which? Trusted Traders endorses landscape designers, gardeners and landscapers who can help you create the perfect BBQ or outdoor kitchen. Find a Which? Trusted Trader gardener or landscape designer in your area.

Where to put your BBQ

Stay close to your kitchen: Unless you have an entirely self-sufficient outdoor kitchen, with its own running water and power, it’s wise to locate your BBQ as close to the indoor kitchen as possible. That way you can get to your fridge and sink quickly.

Think about flooring: You will need a level area, with an appropriate base. Avoid flooring that will be slippery when wet, or when spattered with food spills and grease, such as tiles or marble. 

A small portable BBQ should be fine on an existing patio, but if you are thinking of installing a large outdoor kitchen, a standard patio base may not be strong enough. Check with your Which? Trusted Trader before beginning the installation.

Stay safe: Find a spot that doesn’t pose a fire risk to your house, vegetation or outbuildings. Avoid locating your barbecue against flammable walls, underneath power lines or close to low-hanging trees.

Consider wind direction. How will the wind blow any smoke coming off the BBQ? You don’t want it going back into your house or over your guests.

Keep cool: Do you want your barbecue or outdoor kitchen situated in direct sun, partial sun or shade? You may need to provide shelter from sun and rain for your guests, as well as the chef.

Consider the night-time lighting: If you’re going to use your BBQ or outdoor kitchen at night, you will need enough lighting to see the grill surface and any preparation areas.

Build to last: If you choose a permanent barbecue installation, ensure you pick materials that won’t fade – particularly if you are including counter tops. You might also want to cover the cooking area, to avoid rust.

Zone your BBQ: Even the simplest BBQ will still need four functional areas where you cook, prepare, plate up and serve your food. Think about how you will prepare your food – inside or out; where and how you will plate up and serve it and make sure that you can move freely between these areas – even when the garden is full of guests.

Hiding the evidence

Unless you have a bespoke outdoor kitchen, BBQs can be a bit of an eyesore, spoiling the view when not in use. Clever landscaping can screen your BBQ area but it takes creativity because it still needs open space around it.

You don’t want to hide your BBQ from view entirely. Whoever wields the tongs on social occasions doesn’t want to be completely cut-off from their guests. Eye-catching plants next to the barbecue area can draw the gaze away from the BBQ itself and soften what can be an unattractive view.

Al fresco cuisine shows no sign of losing its appeal to UK consumers, with families having almost four times more BBQs each summer than 10 years ago. While sausages and burgers are always popular, many people are becoming more adventurous in their BBQ menus, as appliances have come on the market to allow you to roast, fry, boil or steam your food out of doors.

There are many different BBQ models on the market, both freestanding and permanent installations, charcoal and gas-powered. You can find out more about the pros and cons of different types of BBQ in the Which? barbecue buying guide

But whether you choose a budget BBQ or luxury outdoor kitchen, you still need to work out where to put it in your garden. If you would like to get grilling this summer, your Which? Trusted Trader gardener, landscaper or landscape designer will be able to help turn your garden into a great place for any type of barbecue. They can create an outdoor cookery set up that will work for you – whatever the weather.

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