If you’re using a movable barbecue, provide a fireproof base. Brick and stone are both good choices. Avoid using any flammable materials in the immediate area of any grill, portable or permanent. Trim back branches of nearby trees or shrubs to reduce the chance of a misdirected ember or spark causing a fire. Treat the cooking facilities with the same respect for safety as you do your kitchen. Make sure there is a clear area nearby for setting down hot pots and pans as they come off the grill and keep a fire extinguisher handy for emergencies.
Extend the length of time that you can use your patio by planning ahead for cool evenings. The warmth of a fire in a permanent brick or stone fireplace, a freestanding patio hearth, fire pit or chimney will add comfort and enjoyment for family cook-outs and entertaining as the evenings get cooler. Another option is to purchase a table top or freestanding 90-inch portable propane heater. Before purchasing, ask about warranties and check on space and installation requirements. Be sure to follow recommended use and all safety cautions.
To add a finishing touch to patio entertaining, add festive lanterns or twinkling lights and citronella candles to keep insects away. Add background atmosphere by playing environmental CDs or tapes that include a chorus of frogs, the chirping of crickets or a gurgling stream or waterfall. Place speakers in various locations that will surround your guests with nature’s music. Favorite dance music is always a hit, too.
Reference: Adler, Linda, HF-LRA.009, “Accessories for Outdoor Living,” University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Revised 2006.