5 places to never put a BBQ in a garden, according to experts

Barbecue season is on the horizon, but be sure to steer clear of these spots when it comes to placing your BBQ...

Wall beside raised beds with a stainless steel barbeque inset, roses and fig growing up sheds. Susan and Henry Parker's garden at their four bedroom Victorian house in Fulham, London.
(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles Photography Ltd)

Summer is synonymous with delicious al fresco meals and freshly-barbecued treats, but you can't just wheel your grill out and pop it wherever you want. In fact, experts have warned there are five places to never put a BBQ in a garden.

That's right: there's more to cooking up a storm in the great outdoors than sourcing one of the best BBQs around, no matter which of the three kinds of barbecue you prefer: electric, charcoal and gas (although the former is usually safer).  And no, we're not talking about marinades and seasonings, either – rather, it's all about knowing where not to put them to ensure the safety of your family and home. 

Whether you're considering a built-in grill, then, or more into purchasing one of the best portable BBQs, here's everything you need to know about where to position yours in your garden for a brilliant (and safe) outdoor kitchen.

5 places to never put a BBQ in a garden

Outdoor kitchen with BBQ and pizza oven

(Image credit: Jemma Watts/Future Publishing Ltd)

It might not be at the top of your list when deciding how to plan an outdoor kitchen, but you should absolutely spend some time researching all the places you should never put a BBQ in a garden.

'When situating a BBQ or any cookware in the garden, it's really important to make sure it's safe and well away from causing anything or anyone any damage,' says Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries.

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants. He established the thriving business in 1992, shortly after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex. 

With that in mind, then, here are the worst places to put a BBQ in a garden.

1. On a balcony

It's sad news for anyone with a balcony garden, as the London Fire Brigade have urged people to never use a BBQ on a balcony.

'Flames, sparks and hot embers can cause a fire and spread quickly to other parts of the building,' they stress, noting that most leases for apartments will prohibit the use of BBQs on balconies for this very reason.

The only exception would be an electric BBQ like the Weber Lumin that uses a heating element not flames to cook the food.

2. Under a roof

A barbecue situated against a tiled wall in a garden

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Now, if you have your own BBQ, there are no rules to prevent you from using it at your home – although Morris insists that you must take care to never place it under a roof of any kind.

'Never put a BBQ directly under a roof, including a garage, shed, tent, pergola, or any outdoor awning' he says, noting that 'sparks and flames could easily catch materials above where they could catch light'. 

The London Fire Brigade agrees, noting that a roof acts as an enclosed space, which is incredibly dangerous due to the heightened possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.

3. Under an overhanging tree

If your outdoor space is filled with trees (and, hey, it likely is – especially as there are even so many excellent trees for small gardens nowadays), be sure to take them into consideration when deciding where to put a BBQ in your garden.

'Placing a BBQ under a hanging tree, near a large bush or by hedging plants could be a recipe for disaster,' says Morris. 

'Instead, set yours a good distance away from woody plants and sheds so they can’t catch light or get burnt by the BBQ.'

4. Too close to a door or window

garden area with sofa and firepit

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

One of the more surprising places to never put a BBQ in a garden, many experts advise that you keep yours away from doors and windows (if you can).

'If you have a BBQ too close to a house door or a window, the smoke will blow inside,' notes Morris. 

'Keeping your grill away from the home by at least ten feet can be helpful if you hope to avoid this – and of course make sure that doors and windows are closed when you're grilling up a storm!'

5 On decking

The London Fire Brigade stresses that you should never place a BBQ on your garden decking, or indeed any uneven ground – something which Morris wholeheartedly agrees with.

'It’s important to keep your BBQ stable,' he says, noting that standing your grill 'on uneven ground could be dangerous when you are cooking hot food'.

If the only space you have for your BBQ is on the decking then it might be worth building a dedicated smooth surface to stand it on for safe cooking.


Is it illegal to have a BBQ in your garden?

While there are laws against using barbecues in public spaces, it's absolutely fine to fire a BBQ up in a private garden – so long as you adhere to safety guidelines.

It's also important to keep an eye on the smoke levels, as this can cause problems with your neighbours and potentially lead to an 'abatement notice' from your local council.

Finally, ensure that you do not have a BBQ near a main road, as the smoke that drifts across the road could pose a visibility risk to drivers and can result in a hefty fine.

Can you have a BBQ next to a fence?

The London Fire Brigade urges you to keep your BBQ well away from anything that may catch fire – and, yes, this includes fences.

Sheds, trees, and other woody plants are also important to be mindful of when deciding where to put a BBQ in your garden.

How close can a grill be next to house?

As mentioned already, it's advisable to keep BBQs at least 10 feet away from your home (or any other buildings). You should also make sure it's a good distance away from any flammable objects or materials, too.

'Having a BBQ in the garden is all about enjoying it with friends and family,' adds Morris. 'So, it’s important to ensure the BBQ is a safe distance away from pets, children, and garden games at all times to ensure no one gets hurt.'

Have a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergency use.

Garden furniture, kitchen island, utensils, bbq, barbecue, alfresco, wooden decking, herbs, plants, lanterns, .

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Now that you know the places to never put a BBQ in a garden, you can set to grilling in earnest. 

Just be sure to – if you're the one wearing that novelty 'Kiss The Cook' apron, that is – avoid distractions from people around you, refrain from drinking alcohol until you're done, and never leave the BBQ unattended until it's fully cooled and properly out.

Personally, we think we'll take the easier job of bringing the potato salad to our next big barbecue...

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.