Wheat’s Landscape designed an outdoor kitchen in McLean complete with a built-in grill, sink and bar-height counter.

Checklist: Landscape

The ins and outs of planning an outdoor kitchen

“Your outdoor space should be an extension of the lifestyle and aesthetic choices you make inside your home,” avers Andrew Ross, a design and construction manager at Wheat’s Landscape. “And one of the most important elements of any home is the kitchen, which represents a space for coming together.” Below, Ross offers insights into the ways an outdoor kitchen can offer the best of both worlds: the peace of nature with the warmth and familiarity of the kitchen.

Two important considerations are size and budget. For some families, a grill with built in-cabinets and storage space may be all they need. Others may want a massive extension of their indoor kitchen—a full-fledged eatery. Which of these options best suits your needs? Outdoor kitchen installation is not a one-size-fits-all operation; professionals customize plans to fit your budget and space. Consider the following to help make your decision:

  • Measure your space to determine its limitations.
  • Outline a budget so you can intelligently decide on outdoor kitchen features.
  • Ask yourself what you want to do in the space; this will help you hone in on design ideas. n Research outdoor kitchen projects online for inspiration.

An outdoor kitchen should be a one-stop shop for all your kitchen needs—conveniently located outside. Myriad types of equipment and amenities are available to you. The following are worth considering:

  • Grill—This is essential; do you prefer something built-in or more mobile?
  • Countertops & Cabinets—Imperative for storage and food prep.
  • Refrigerator—Having a refrigerator outside means you have access to all ingredients and beverages without having to retreat inside.
  • Sink—Water on tap is convenient for cooking, cleaning and more.
  • Luxury Items—These are things you may not necessarily need but definitely might want. Wine coolers, a cocktail station and pizza ovens are just a few fun, optional items to enhance your outdoor kitchen.


Pro Tips

”Unlike bluestone, which can heat up to 100 degrees or more, porcelain tile stays cooler. It comes in many colors and textures, some mimicking wood, concrete or stone.” —Joseph Richardson, ASLA, Joseph Richardson Landscape Architecture

“Nighttime safety is essential, especially at steps and paths. We always incorporate outdoor lighting to create depth and layers in a composition while minimizing distracting bright spots.” —Richard Arentz, ASLA, Arentz Landscape Architects, LLC