Planning The Barbecue Area And Built-in Seats

There are many ways in which built-in seats can be used in the garden, apart from alongside a barbecue, and they can often double up for other purposes. Walls for raised beds or surrounding pools make a perfect perch.

Integral timber seats are an obvious choice for framing the edge of timber decking, or for surrounding a raised planter. Wooden or metal seats around a tree can form a charming focal point, providing somewhere to pause in the shade of overhanging foliage. You can buy off-the-peg design in wood, but they all tend to look pretty similar, so why not build your own?

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Choose a tree of ample size and make the seat of generous proportions. A simple design might be rectangular and big enough to double as a table, lounger, or play surface. Use lots of cushions to brighten it up and make life a little more comfortable, as with movable garden seating. seats can also be built into the angles of walls. A generously broad flight of steps will offer instant seating as well as providing a pleasantly raised view of the lower level and whatever happens to be taking place on it.

You can include a large boulders set into the edge of a terrace, or huge fallen logs in a woodland setting. The real point is that the setting should inspire the design and that convention does not always provide the right solution. By all means go and see what the garden center can provide, and look through books; but, even more importantly, look around you to see what others have come up with, or, best of all, create your own designs.

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If you are barbecue addicts, you will have thought out where you want to barbecue, and incorporated this in the overall garden design. It will almost certainly make sense to allocate a space relatively near the kitchen (or you have an outdoor kitchen), and you will need an ample area of paving to allow for a picnic bench and the possibility of a large gathering of friends. If you can site your barbecue to achieve the bonus of late afternoon or evening sun, then so much the better.

Swimming pools make a natural barbecue focus, and should be linked to the eating area by a sensible path. The type of barbecue you have really depends on how often you are likely to use it.

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When buying off-the-peg barbecues it is safer to get something rather bigger than you think you will need, because as well as allowing for friends dropping in, it will also allow you to cook in rotation, with food in various stages of readiness. There is a vast range of models and prices to choose from. The cheapest barbecues really only last a season, and are usually best thrown away at the end of the summer; the bigger and better kind can be cleaned up and stored over winter (never leave them outside – they look dreadfully unseasonal and quickly rust).

Assuming that the location of the barbecue is already decided, you now need to think about the exact siting and configuration. Barbecues need a draught, so should not be set up within a confined space where they will not work well. A badly sited barbecue, producing the occasional thick cloud of billowing smoke, can upset even the most accommodating of neighbors.

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The simplest built-in type can be put together in a matter of minutes from loosely laid concrete blocks or bricks. You can use cooking grids from your oven or, preferably, buy another set that you can use permanently. Such a barbecue is pretty basic, and there is little scope for altering the height of the grids to control the cooking temperature.

You could include a neatly paved worktop with a built-in store beneath to house tools, logs and charcoal, a few toys, and other bits and pieces. The grids slide along mild steel strips that are built into the brickwork as work progresses, and can be moved up and down to decrease or increase the cooking rate. You can even buy barbecue grid kits that make the job of construction easier.

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When planning the barbecue area, it is worth considering how to incorporate built-in seating. The entire arrangement might perhaps fit into a corner formed by two walls, and overhead beams could carry climber plants to cast light shade, and offer fragrance. If you plant herbs close by, perhaps contained in a raised bed, they will add their scent and make a useful addition to your cooking.

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