Many Brits will use a rise in temperatures and just a glimpse of the summer sun as an opportunity to take their cooking outside and enjoy some barbecued food. However, this pastime could be made a lot easier if homeowners make the most of the winter and spring months to create a barbecue pit in their gardens. Even though I’m practically eating a vegan diet, free of meat, dairy and eggs, I still love a good BBQ! There’s something so amazing about eating outdoors and cooking food outdoors. I enjoy grilled vegetable kebabs, slices of meaty aubergine or Portobello mushrooms with a slice of vegan cheese, as well as spicy bean burgers in pitta or a seeded bun. I’m drooling just thinking about it!
The one think we’re missing in our garden is a permanent BBQ station. I love all the outdoor kitchens I see floating around on Pinterest and cool brick cooking stations. Ben has been quite keen to build one since we moved into our home four years ago. Below I have a guest post today for you from Flogas, who supply people with LPG storage tanks that can be used to power BBQs. They will guide you through the process of building the perfect barbecue pit for your garden and the safety considerations which must also be considered:
1. Get your items
Here’s everything that you will need in order to build your barbecue pit:
- Carpenter’s square
- Cinder blocks
- Dry mortar
- Grill top
- Hand tamper
- Measuring tape
- Metal braces
- Metal cylinder or can (if you’re building a metal pit)
- Paving slabs
- Spirit level
2. Take plenty of time to plan
You shouldn’t dive straight into building your barbecue pit before first doing some planning.
Start by having a think about just what type of barbecue pit you want for your garden. You’ll be surprised how many varieties there are — with this handy guide from DIY Cozy Home helping you find the one that will be perfect for you and the space you are working with. Don’t forget to also consider your budget, as you don’t want a half-finished pit just because you realised during the project that you couldn’t afford all the materials.
Once you have selected your barbecue pit, it’s time to find the best location to build it. For convenience, you should be aiming to place it close to your dining room or kitchen so you only need to walk small distances with food and utensils once it’s time to grill on your barbecue. Logistically, you should aim for your pit to be at least 15 feet square (3 feet x 5 feet).
However, safety is also very important when finding a great location for your barbecue pit. Avoid building it in a place where it’s likely that smoke is going to blow straight into either your home or one of your neighbour’s properties. It should be placed away from any overhanging trees, buildings and fences which are at risk of been damaged from the smoke or catching fire. If your home’s outdoor space is vulnerable to high winds, aim to build the pit close to a brick or concrete wall which will work to break the force of the wind.
There are very important safety considerations when it comes to gas-powered barbecues as well. Refrain from ever making your barbecue pit an enclosed space, such as by putting a tent or cabin around it — with this the case whether the barbecue is lit or smouldering. Be aware of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning once a gas-powered barbecue pit is constructed too. You should stop using a barbecue pit immediately if you begin suffering from a loss of breath, dizziness, headaches or nausea and seek advice from a specialist builder before operating the barbecue again
Related How to Host the Ultimate BBQ
3. Work on the foundations
When it’s time to actually get started with building your barbecue pit, the first thing that will need to be focused on is the foundations. After all, the barbecue itself is going to be of substantial weight and will require good foundations to support it.
Begin by digging a pit that is at least eight inches deep and then clear out all loose soil and stones that remain once the hole is created using a shovel. Your hand tamper should also be used to compact the soil that is at the bottom of the trench and to create a level playing field.
Next, pour a layer of gravel into the trench that is around two to three inches deep and level this off, again using your hand tamper. You will then want to mix your dry mortar with some water and spread a two-inch layer of the mixture on top of the gravel. Level this mixture out using a trowel, though do this quickly as mortar tends to dry-off at a rapid rate.
4. Create the base
Now you’re ready to build the base of your barbecue pit. To do this, start placing cinder blocks around the edges of the mortar. A small hole should remain to drain water and any gaps between the blocks can easily be filled using wet mortar. Just be sure to keep removing any excess mortar while remembering that mortar dries off quickly.
Once the cinder blocks are in place, check that they are all even using your spirit level and check all the corners with the aid of your carpenter’s square.
After you’re happy with this construction, spread some more wet mortar on top of the cinder blocks and start placing bricks in a side-by-side format on top of them. By using a double layer of bricks, you will instantly strengthen the entire pit. Once again, don’t waste time removing any excess mortar to avoid problems once it’s been given time to dry.
5. The finishing touches
The complexity of this step will depend on which type of barbecue pit you’ve opted for. If you have decided to go for a metal pit, then all that’s going to be required is for you to install the metal cylinder or can over the layer of bricks you’ve put in place and fit the grill top over the furnace.
Have a desire to create a brick barbecue pit? Then this is the method that you should be working towards:
- Apply more mortar and continue to build additional layers of bricks until you reach the height that you’re happy with.
- Work on each layer by placing bricks in the corners first and work out from these points.
- Once a layer is complete, make sure that you are using your spirit level to ensure the structure is remaining level and your carpenter’s square to check the layout of the corners.
- When you reach the penultimate layer of bricks, be sure to insert metal braces into the mortar so that they face inward before applying the bricks (these braces will be essential for holding the grill top in place).
- Leave the pit overnight so that the mortar can set entirely and then place the grill top onto the metal braces the next day.
- If building a gas-powered barbecue pit, attach the hoses which will supply gas from its supply and seek expert advice to ensure that the gas transfer is operating properly. (As a side note, gas taps must be switched off before you ever change a gas cylinder. Also, only carry out this process in an open-air environment.)
Once this step is complete, you will have successfully created your very own barbecue pit. All what will be left to do is wait for the first sign of summer to fire up the grill and start enjoying some outdoor dining.