Contributed by BBQ Island

Food is always a plus when it comes to bringing friends and family together, making your grill the centerpiece of your backyard. After all, who doesn’t love a great barbecue? Here are eight tips for creating the ultimate outdoor grilling space.

1. Plan carefully.
As with any outdoor project, it’s essential to map things out before you get started. Put some thought into what you’d like in your ideal finished outdoor space. What kind of features do you want? Consider the appliances, surfaces, and utilities you’ll need, and think about whether you’ll be able to design this space yourself or will need to hire a contractor.

2. Design with the future in mind.
A high-quality outdoor grilling space will last your family for generations. When in doubt, add any features you may eventually want now since it’s easier to install electrical, plumbing, and heating utilities earlier rather than later.

3. Add cabinetry.
Nice cabinets may seem like a luxury, but this is a great way to improve the layout and upgrade the appearance of your outdoor grilling space. You need space to stash your utensils, cookware, and other must-haves, and you won’t want to keep running back and forth to the house.

4. Always add a vent hood.
A vent hood will help reroute moisture and grease, preventing staining and other damage to your surrounding walls and the rest of your home. Most areas have building codes requiring ventilation systems in your grilling area if you’re placing it under another structure, like a pavilion or pergola.

5. Provide shade.
Speaking of pergolas and pavilions, a shaded area is a must. Spending time outdoors is essential for our health and well-being, but there’s nothing worse than baking in the summer sun with no relief in sight.

7. Add a fire pit.
A fire pit is great for allowing your guests to get cozier and it’s a great conversation piece that guests love to gather around. It will allow you to extend your grilling season into the winter months.

8. Don’t neglect the landscaping.
Just because your grilling station is an extension of your indoor kitchen, you shouldn’t ignore the other outdoor elements that come into play. Be sure to keep the lawn properly mowed, edged, and irrigated. You can also place tall potted plants around your patio as a moveable barrier.