3 Steps to Planning Your Outdoor Summer Kitchen

Posted on: May 1, 2013

If you are like most Maryland residents, you probably fire up your grill quite often during summer. Whether grilling is your passion or just a quick way to make a delicious meal for your big family and guests, you could probably use some more space, right?

The grill provides minimal storage and limited counter space, which probably causes you to run back and forth between your deck and the kitchen quite a few times during the cooking process.

What if you could have an area on your patio, in your backyard or even on your deck with:

  • Plenty of counter space to prepare your cooking ingredients
  • Lots of storage room for your grilling accessories and even plates and utensils
  • Easy access to cool refreshments
  • An alfresco dining setup

We are talking about your own outdoor kitchen with an adjacent dining space for casual dinners, family gatherings or outdoor parties. Lerch Brothers Landscape Contractors have helped many Maryland homeowners build outdoor cooking and entertainment areas that fit their individual needs and style. We put together a few tips to help you plan your perfect outdoor oasis.

Decide on the location and budget

Space and budget are the key factors that will affect the layout and features of your outdoor kitchen. If the space is limited, you will have to scale down a bit and choose a layout that brings all the elements close together. An outdoor kitchen adjacent to your home is a safe choice for smaller yards.

Also, take into account existing landscape and hardscape. If you have a deck, a patio, a gazebo or some other outdoor entertainment area, you would probably want to set up your grilling station close by, so that people can easily transition between different areas and you don’t end up cooking in solitude.

If the space is not a concern but the budget is tight, as specialists in landscape design in Baltimore, we recommend our clients leave the room for improvements. You don’t have to pour all the money at once into this project. Start with the good foundation and develop it as you save up. For example, if you can’t afford all the appliances you want right now, leave a room for them in your design and buy them later.

Determine the key features

Think about why you want an outdoor kitchen, how you are going to use it and what would make it convenient for you. Here are some of the features to consider:

  • A built-in sink and a dishwasher will make it easier to clean up
  • A bar island is perfect for parties
  • A separate dining table can accommodate numerous guests
  • A shade is a must if the cooking/dining area is in a sunny spot
  • A retaining wall can help with privacy
  • Proper lighting is necessary for cooking after the sunset
  • A mini-fridge will help you keep cold drinks, condiments and extra food at hand
  • If you have more than one cook in your family, you might need two or more cooking stations to make different meals at the same time.

And, of course, you have to pick the right grill for your cooking needs. This is something Baltimore landscapers can’t advise you on. Grills come with many features, such as rotisserie, warming drawers and side burners. Your choice will depend on how much, how often and what you typically cook on the grill.

Choose the materials

Be mindful of what your outdoor kitchen will have to endure every year. If you live in Maryland, you need structures and appliances durable enough to make it through the winter snow, long fall rains, baking summer sun, vicious thunderstorms and maybe even a few tropical storms with strong wind gusts.

Natural stone and stainless steel offer strength and durability you are looking for. Besides, surrounding a hot grill or oven with cool stone is safer than using flammable wood. If you plan on using wood for arbors, pergolas or trellises, make sure it’s pre-treated to withstand the elements.

Does this sound like a lot to think about? Well, it is! Your outdoor kitchen is a serious project that requires a thorough planning and professional execution by your local Maryland landscapers. Adding a full kitchen or even a small grilling area will not only extend your living space, but will certainly increase the value of your home. If you need help on any stage of the project – feel free to get in touch. We’ve planned and built outdoor kitchens for everyone from a summer BBQ enthusiast to a professional chef.