Get Your Garden BBQ Ready
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Nothing says summer has arrived quite like having a barbecue, and with lockdown rules easing to allow visitors to your garden (at a responsible distance!) why not follow our tips to make sure you're ready to host your first of many?
Choosing a BBQ
Looking for the best barbecue for your needs? Consider how many people you'll be catering for (both now and in the future), your budget, storage and features. The gas vs charcoal debate is still going strong, with purists claiming it has to be charcoal all the way to get that flavour in the food, but others prefer the gas for ease of use.
Gas - these reach maximum temperature more quickly and you can control how hot you want it. They're versatile, usually with lots of features, and easy to clean but can be more expensive (especially when you have to take the cost of gas canisters into consideration) and are larger and more difficult to store.
Charcoal - these are usually much smaller and easier to use and start at lower prices but take longer to reach temperature and can't be controlled.
Other types - kamados (Japanese ceramic 'stoves' which use lump charcoal), electric barbecues (ideal for small spaces or table-top cooking), smokers (great for expanding food options), pizza ovens (more specific) and disposable barbecues (convenient for small spaces or when you have no storage).
Cleaning your BBQ
Start by giving your barbecue a good clean both inside and out, especially if it's been sat unused for a while.
- Use soft materials and warm, soapy water to avoid scratching or damaging the paint and metal, but the grill racks may need something a little stronger. If there's any particularly stubborn dirt, use a barbecue specific cleaner as some household cleaners are too abrasive.
- Grease is easier to remove if you heat up the barbecue and allow it to bake into a hard layer before cooling everything down and scraping it off.
If you haven't got a grill brush for the racks, crumple some aluminium foil up into a ball and use that.
- Tip leftover ash out quickly as the minute it cools and starts to absorb moisture in the air it's harder to clean.
- Use a coating of sunflower oil before cooking to prevent further food sticking to surfaces.
Create a cooking space
Choose an area in your garden to place the barbecue - ideally a deck or patio so your barbecue is level. If you have enough room, choose somewhere away from where you'll be eating but still with a clear path to the house, as the smoke can sometimes be overwhelming and you can easily bring food and utensils from the kitchen.
Thinking about decking in your garden? Take a look at our blog post on wood vs composite decking.
Take the time to have a good clean up in your garden - even if it's just a quick mow and strim of the lawn and washing down the patio or decking - as it makes all the difference!
Now is also the perfect time to invest in some new garden furniture or just spruce up your old set! Give wooden furniture a good clean down and then paint with a wood sealer/preserver to maintain the colour and to prevent rot. For rattan and iron furniture a clean down with warm soapy water will bring it back as good as new.
Keeping your space lit
So you've got the family round and you want to keep the party going for as long as possible. Invest in lighting to maximise the use of your garden after the sun goes down. Use citronella candles to keep the insects away, and take a look at our guide to outdoor lighting to give you inspiration on other ways to give your space a little atmosphere.
If you're worried about it getting a little chilly, keep a pile of blankets nearby to tuck round your guest's shoulders, and consider a fire pit or a chimenea which gives you the benefit of both light and warmth.
When using a barbecue whether it be gas or coal always take care and be safe.
- Don't use if there is any sign of damage to the grill, gas bottle or pipes.
- Make sure the barbecue is level and away from anything flammable (sheds, overhanging trees, shrubs etc).
- Keep children and pets away from the barbecue (and any activities that may be going on in the garden).
- Make sure someone is attending to the barbecue at all times and keep some water or sand nearby just in case.
- If it's a charcoal unit, only use enough charcoal to cover about 2 inches at the base and only use enough fire-starting fluid to get it up and running (never use petrol!).
- Never tip away hot ashes and especially not into plastic bins.
- If it's a gas unit, always ensure the bottles are connected properly before turning on and connect and change the bottles in a well-ventilated area.
It is always worth keeping a gazebo or parasol on hand just in case (we know what the British weather is like) - we've even seen someone rig up a tarpaulin during a rain shower to keep their barbecue going!