One of the most pleasant aspects of having an outdoor kitchen is being able to spend time in the fresh air. On cool days, it’s also nice to have the sun shining down on you. But most people want some shade over their cooking area to help beat the heat during the prime BBQ season of summer. Hardscape features like awnings are one option, but what about natural solutions like trees?
Mother Nature’s Shade Delivery System
Trees give you that dappled sunlight and shade combo that a solid awning can’t match. You also get to enjoy fresher air since trees release oxygen during the day as a byproduct of photosynthesis. The oxygen isn’t not concentrated enough to ignite a fire if you light a cigarette (or your charcoal grill), but it does make the air smell great.
Drawbacks of Living Shade
The most obvious problem with having tree branches directly overhanging your cooking area is that birds love trees even more than we do. The thought of having a tender rib-eye ruined by a special delivery from above is almost too horrible to contemplate. Some trees (like mulberry) shed catkins in the spring and berries in the summer making a mess that’s nothing short of staggering. Even if you use a cover to keep your stainless steel appliances and nice granite countertops safe, there’s still a lot of cleanup to do.
Options that Might Work
The following YardShare contributors have learned to incorporate trees into their outdoor kitchen area without running into trouble.
Palm trees don’t offer an ideal perch for most birds since they don’t have branches or twigs. Plus, the leaves (or fronds in this case) aren’t constantly falling off and getting in your aïoli sauce.
In this setup, the trees bordering the kitchen act as a wind break rather than a shade barrier. They can be trimmed back as needed if they start to hang over the grill.