Whether a public park or a private home garden,there is no doubt that a garden will be a more valuable place when it has more uses. One way that gardens can be made more useful is by adding a bbq; but big questions need to first be answered. Consider what type of bbq, and where to locate it?
DECIDING WHAT YOU NEED
Fixed or portable?
Portable bbq's on wheels can be moved about your garden. They can me a big advantage for private home gardens; but obviously less appropriate for public landscapes.
They allow you to change location of where you cook; to seek shelter on a hot or windy day, or to move to the sunniest spot in cooler parts of the year. You do need decent pathways to wheel them over though (a heavy portable bbq can be difficult to maneuver over a wet lawn). Some portable bbq's are designed to use out of doors, but store under cover. If you don't have a suitable shed or verandah, you may be better with a fixed bbq.
How much cooking area do you need
Remember your family will eat a lot more meals from the bbq than guests will. Extra capacity is certainly used when you have a 21st birthday party, but you don't do that every day.
A family of four will generally find 0.5 to 1 sq metre of cooking area will
be more than ample for their own needs and adequate when entertaining a couple of other families.
CHOOSE A STYLE
Cart style These are units built into a moveable trolley. They are self contained and usually run on bottle gas.
Ovens or Kettle BBQ's The Webber is our most commonly used oven bbq. This bbq burns heat beads or gas inside an enclosed chamber; in effect an outdoor oven. It can be used to cook anything you would normally cook on a bbq as well as anything you might normally cook in an oven (such as roast meat).
Brick or Stone (Masonry) BBQ's These are fixed bbq's built with masonry; with a gas or wood fired hot plate. In public places, the gas source (bottle or pipe) may be locked away for security and safety.
Parts of a BBQ
This is the shelf below the bbq which the fire burns on. It can be made from brick or metal. Brick lasts longer, but metal grates are popular, provided they are reasonably heavy duty. Cast iron is perhaps the best it resists heat, but is brittle, and doesn't withstand moving about frequently. Cast iron grates, hot plates and grills are excellent in fixed bbq's.
These are cooking surfaces which are not solid ie: bars, slats or grid surfaces which allow heat from underneath to penetrate direct both through the gaps as well as heating via the hot metal parts. Excess fat fall through gaps.
Hot Plates solid metal surface needs facility to drain off excess fat
Spits rotating arm driven by a motor
The fuel may be either solid fuel or gas. Solid alternatives may be wood, coal or heat beads
A bbq area needs more than just the bbq though. Non cooking requirements might include shelves, tool holders, table tops, wind breaks/shelter
It is also important to consider facilities for cleaning, including a rubbish bin and access to water.
Some bbq's are easier to maintain than others as well. Some metals will rust. Some types of masonry and metal can be more easily damaged by heat of the bbq; or by weathering if in a more exposed location.
Locating the BBQ
BBQ's need to have reasonable access to a kitchen where food is prepared, or at least water and a table or bench to work off.
Uneaten food may need to be returned to the kitchen or a cooler/ storage afterwards. The place where the food is to be eaten should be near to the barbeque (so you can get an extra chop easily), but not so close that you are affected by smoke when trying to eat.
The bbq can actually be used as a piece of garden furniture, to provide a focal point to an outdoor living area (which everything else relates to, or placed in a position where it provides a physical barrier to an undesirable view.
PROPER USE OF A BBQ
A new masonry bbq should be left 2 3 weeks before using to avoid cracking of the stone or brick work. Burn a slow fire for 4 5 hours the first time you use it.
Covering the hot plates and the top of a chimney when not in use will prolong the life of a fixed bbq.
Store portable bbq's under cover in wet weather and in the shade during very hot weather.
Never start a fire in a bbq when it is wet (this can lead to damage).
Don't put heavy kettles on an overheated grill, the weight can cause cracks.
Oil metal parts (eg: grill, hot plate, grate etc) frequently to prevent rust. Remove any rust which occurs with steel wool, then coat with oil to prevent further rusting.
Don't leave ashes on metal surfaces outside. Ashes and water together will corrode metal.