Expand your home's useful space by adding a barbecue to your yard.

This barbecue offers the comforts of a full outdoor roomCredit: Photo by Jane Gates

No matter what time of year it is, people always seem to associate having a barbecue with fun and relaxation. If you live where winters are mild, you can still grill outdoors. You can also extend the cooking season by designing an outdoor heater into your grilling area to make temperatures more comfortable when temperatures get a bit chilly. Add a built-in chimney for heat in outdoor rooms. Of course, barbecues can be enjoyed by everyone when the weather is comfortable. The best way to enjoy yours is to plan for the kind of outdoor kitchen that will fit into your available space so it not only looks great, but functions well -- and stays within your budget.

Grills come in all sizes and shapes. You can buy a little portable unit to fire up whenever and wherever you want to cook in your yard. You can purchase a ready-designed grill complete with countertop space, you can make building a barbecue into a do-it-yourself project, or you can have one designed and built for you to fit any specifications.

A build-in barbecue will be most successful if it is designed with materials the echo the design, style and materials used in other parts of your garden. Think of how the structure will fit into your garden. Do you want it located on a patio? Do you want a roof overhead? Make sure you provide for vents for heat and smoke. Which way do you want your grill to face? Look at the different views of your garden. Is it convenient? Make sure you locate your cooking area so it is close enough to the kitchen to carry food and utensils back and forth easily. And if you did not build in a water source, keep in mind that you will need access to water for both cooking and cleaning.

Remember that you can have a simple barbecue and still enjoy cooking outside. If you have the budget, you can choose to add a baking, pizza or warming oven. Sinks can be designed into your outdoor kitchen space as can different cutting surfaces and countertops of wood, stone, tile, Corian or other materials.

Make sure the flooring you use around any food preparation site is practical, easy to clean and can handle spills and grease. And plan seating nearby so the tasty treats you produce can be eaten comfortably nearby. So whether you go for something simple, elaborate or anything in between, add a barbecue to your landscape. You won’t regret it.