Summer is on the way and of course you want to be able to spend as much time outdoors as you can. So why not take your kitchen outside too?

An outdoor kitchen has many advantages. If you do a lot of entertaining, you can prepare a meal for your guests without being left out of the party. An outdoor kitchen can add value to your home and expand your living space. And it can extend the life of your patio living – why take meal prep indoors just because the weather cools down?

Call Your Landscaping Professionals First

Before you starting thumbing through magazines planning the outdoor kitchen of your dreams, spend some time looking at your surroundings.

What do you already have in place that you may have to work around or incorporate in your design? Is there a pool? A lot of trees? How large is your available space? Are you working with a two-tiered deck or a patio? Is the ground soft and marshy? Will the setting sun be in your eyes while you’re trying to cook?

These are all important questions and the professionals at J & S Landscaping can help you find the answers. You don’t want to build your kitchen on unstable ground or where it might obstruct the fabulous view you already have.

You will want to keep your outdoor kitchen close to your home. It will be less expensive to tie the necessary utility lines into your existing electric, water and gas lines. And you’ll want to make it easy on yourself as you bring food and other items in and out.

Flooring, the Foundation of Any Kitchen

Let’s start from the ground up. Any kitchen flooring – whether inside or outside – needs to be durable, easy to clean, withstand heavy appliances and be safe for use.

Your flooring needs to be functional and safe. If your outdoor kitchen is completely in the elements with no covering, you will need to make sure it’s durable enough to handle Michigan’s changing weather of heat and humidity, snow, ice and rain.

The most logical choices for an outdoor kitchen will be hardscape surfaces. A poured concrete patio is the most basic kind of foundation. Moving up in cost and looks are tile, brick and stone pavers. Keep in mind these will be safer when wet if they are textured. J & S Landscaping is the industry leader when it comes to bricks and pavers and we have many options to choose from. If you’re building your kitchen on a pre-existing wood deck, you may want to consider re-staining or painting the deck to match any renovations. You need to make sure it’s in good condition, too.

The Layout of an Outdoor Kitchen

Take the time to sketch our your plan on paper. Give yourself a few days to look it over. Get nput from others who will be using it. Is the location blocking the view from your dining room? How much entertaining do you typically do? Do you have family over the summer or large gatherings for much of the year? This will help determine how much counter and storage space you’ll need.

The relevance of the traditional “kitchen triangle” is up for debate for indoor kitchens. Outdoor kitchen are typically smaller. The triangle or U-shape is still recommended for a smooth workflow. Keep your grill, sink and food storage areas near each other for easy use.

Take into account seating and dining arrangements when you design your outdoor kitchen. Look at your available space. Can you have that large patio set or do you need to scale down to stackable chairs?

Balance your available space with minimum requirements of appliances and counters. You’ll need to plan for the amount of room between your appliances so the cook isn’t bumping into a guest reaching for a cold drink. A variety of counter heights – 30” for sitting and eating, 36” for meal prepping and 42” for resting food and beverages – will extend the functionality of your space.

Buy the Appliances You Need

Be realistic of your needs and budget. Having a large outdoor kitchen with all the bells and whistle is fun to dream about but do you really need a pizza oven or beer tap? Maybe you do. But maybe you can skip those and invest in a better quality grill.

Your cooking surface can be as basic as a high quality stand-alone gas or charcoal grill or as top-end as an all-in-one grill, oven and warmer. Refrigerated drawers that fit under a counter are a space-saving option to a refrigerator and will keep your drinks cool and nearby.

Make sure whichever appliances you choose can make it through rain and sun. Stainless steel and ceramic are great options that are durable and require low maintenance.

A Final Thought About Your Outdoor Kitchen

If you’ll be spending many hours outside, entertaining guests or chatting with family long into the night, consider covering and lighting your outdoor space. You could use several umbrellas strategically placed around the patio or an open-air pergola to provide some shelter from sun and rain.

Go a step further and you could add a roof. In addition to providing better protection from the elements, you’ll be able to add fans for more breeze on hot sunny days or lights to extend your evening entertaining. At J & S Landscaping, we can light up your night with a variety of lighting to serve your needs, from making a path bright enough for walking at night to sconces embedded in a wall for added ambiance.

Enjoy Your Space!

Whether you’re planning a backyard BBQ or a sophisticated soiree, your ideal space can become a reality with the help of the professionals at J&S Landscaping. Call us today!