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A guide to creating a permanent barbecue pit in your garden

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

 

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.

Join Flogas, which supplies people with LPG storage tanks that can be used to power BBQs, as they guide you through the process of building the perfect barbecue pit for your garden and the safety considerations which must also be considered:

 

Get your items

Here’s everything that you will need in order to build your barbecue pit:

  • Water
  • Bricks
  • Cinder blocks
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Measuring tape
  • Dry mortar
  • Gravel
  • Metal cylinder or can (if you’re building a metal pit)
  • Hand tamper
  • Metal braces
  • Paving slabs
  • Spirit level
  • Shovel
  • Grill top
  • Trowel

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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:

  1. Apply more mortar and continue to build additional layers of bricks until you reach the height that you’re happy with.
  2. Work on each layer by placing bricks in the corners first and work out from these points.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. Leave the pit overnight so that the mortar can set entirely and then place the grill top onto the metal braces the next day.
  6. 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.

Garden and footballers

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

If you are sharing your garden with some young footballers then from the point of view of growing plants all can seem a bit lost with the broken stems and bruised flowers on your existing plants. However all it not lost as often selecting the right ornamental grasses can add some colour and interest to your garden without attracting to much damage from the footballers. Here is a few suggestions for suitable grasses

festuca glauca elijah blue
Pennisetum setaceum Fireworks
Pennistum Villosum

Our experiments on seed sowing composts

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Our the lasts few months the GardenAdvice team have been experimenting on different types and brands of compost for seed sowing following a lot of comments from our MyGardenTeam members and viewers that they have had problems germinating and growing seedlings. Our research and experimentation has confirmed that a lot of compost containing green compost are showing low levels of germination of seeds whilst our standard recommendation of using John Innes number one soil based compost to the original recipe is still a good bet but Wilko Lightweight Multi-Purpose Compost Coco Coir Easy Carry 40L has provided some outstanding results and ticks a lot of the boxes as far as coming from a sustainable sources and packaging.

 

Wilko Lightweight Multi-Purpose Compost Coco Coir does not carry the same amount of available nutrients as other compost so you will need to start feeding earlier with liquid feeds to support seedling and plants that remain in the compost for an extended length of time.

Another useful addition to Wilko Lightweight Multi-Purpose Compost Coco Coir is Rootgrow.co.uk  a mycorrhizal fungi this will help the plants establish an association with mycorrhizal fungi early on to boost growth and crops etc

Starting a vegetable garden and how our MyGardenTeam service can help

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

If you are starting or planning a vegetable garden at first it can be a bit of an uphill struggle

As you have to take on lots of new knowledge. The GardenAdvice MyGardenTeam service helps you sort cut the stage in acquiring the knowledge by appointing you your own specialist garden advisor to help you every stage of the way for further details click here

 

Weed control on you vegetable beds

If your vegetable garden or area is new often weeds can be a problem.

  • Rotavating your new plot is an option but to deep and too much rotovating can destructure and damage the soil. Digging to start with is often better but is hard and time consuming
  • If you have the time or have areas you are not going to use straight away covering with black plastic sheeting with small hole cut into it with potatoes planted into the area will clean up the soil and next season you will start with a friable text soil once the sheeting is removed ideal for planting and sowing.

 

Raised beds for growing vegetables

The benefits of raised beds are clear for growing vegetables and fruit crops.

  • The raise beds helps the soil to warm up earlier
  • Raised beds are a great way to improve your soil if you have a clay or sand soil be allowing to to use the raised bed to add organic matter such as well rotted manure or spent mushroom compost which is very useful on clay soil because it contains large quantities of lime.
  • Raised beds often provide used to provide greater access to people with limited or restricted mobility  
  • It’s worth remembering with raised beds you are creating a small ecosystem so it’s important to add and consider such items as worms which are a key fact in improving and maintaining soil

 

Slugs

Slugs can be a problem but with a bit of effort they can be brought under control

  • Encourage birds to visit your vegetable garden will help to reduce the numbers of larger slug numbers
  • Beer traps although old fashioned are a great way to control slugs
  • For small slugs using a biological control method with nematodes which is a small worm which travels in the soil moisture to attack the small slugs  

 

Composting basics

Composting is not as hard as a lot of people make out. The keys are

  • Helping the bacteria, fungus and other soil organisms to break down the organic matter in your compost heap by keeping it moist but not overly wet. Keeping it warm in the winter with a cover and cool in the summer.
  • You compost heap is working correctly if its warm to the touch when you hold a handful of compost
  • Feeding is key adding a handful of Growmore every couple of weeks in the spring and summer helps the compost heap working at maximum efficiency.
  • Worms in a compost heap are useful as they are naturally the first stage in Breaking down organic matter