If you’re not particularly green fingered and barbecues are as close to ‘outdoor activity’ as you get, don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone. According to the Sunday Times, recent research from garden furniture retailer Alfresia.co.uk found that 40 per cent of people devote more time in the garden to lounging and lunching than preening and planting with the percentage rising to two thirds among the 18-29 age bracket. A separate survey from Lloyds TSB suggests that 57 per cent of see the garden as a place to relax by than a prime spot for plant cultivation. That said, if you want to make the most of your yard or garden, however big or small, you may need to do a little prep work. Here’s how to get your space barbecue ready…
Do some groundwork
If you’ve got a lawn it might be as simple as running the mower over and pulling a few weeds and perhaps trimming your hedge. Yard owners might find they have even less to do – pull some weeds, clear away rubbish (like those glass bottles that are lurking in the corner waiting to go to the bottle bank), if you’re feeling particularly enthusiastic you might reach for some paint and a brush to freshen up walls or fences. Prepare the area for habitation and you’ll find a little effort goes a long way.
Set the scene
Unless you’re one of those people who is perfectly happy sitting on the lawn on top of a picnic blanket, you’ll need a decent patio table and chairs. Preferably ones that are well-matched height wise if they’re not part of an actual set. Let stability and longevity guide your choices; though an integrated umbrella will most certainly be a welcome addition should you experience a rain shower mid barbecue. Unfortunately the UK is subject to rather changeable weather, so if you’re a barbecue devotee and really want to eek out the season for all it is worth, some permanent changes to your property may be the way to go to allow you to barbecue whatever weather comes along. If you don’t want to sacrifice outdoor space to a conservatory or summerhouse, some well-placed doors are a friendlier option. For country-style kitchens that back directly onto outdoor space, choose wooden bi-fold doors (and they don’t have to cost a fortune), they’ll help you retain that cute cottage feel while also giving easy access in and out of the house. Oh, and they should stop as much smoke drifting inside too.
Let there be warmth, and light
If your barbecue events tend to go on into the early evening and beyond, providing a little extra light and warmth is wise. Patio heaters can be expensive but a bonfire can be unwieldy, which is exactly what has been fuelling the renaissance of firepits and chimineas of late. They provide a perfect focal point for gathering round as well as warmth, though you might want to employ some additional help when it comes to lighting. Lanterns, solar fairy light trails and hanging jar light are all very much in vogue right now. For help deciding what combination is right for your outdoor space, Pinterest is very much your friend. Search ‘outdoor lighting’ and be prepared to be blown away by sparkles!
If you want to take your outdoor entertaining to the next level, you might want to join the growing number of Brits who boast a hot tub in their backyard. Ten per cent of respondents in the Lloyds TSB Insurance survey said they were hot tub owners and the British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association has just launched its ‘Happiness is a Hot Tub Campaign’, hoping to add more to the number. If you don’t want to commit to a full time tub, consider renting a tub from one of the growing number of hot tub let companies – most will deliver direct to your home. The addition of a tub will certainly make your barbecue stand out from the rest but don’t get too boozy, it could end badly!
Are you a barbecue aficionado? Are you prepping your garden for the season ahead or do you merely need to wash off your grill and get going?