May is the start of barbecue season, so it’s only fitting that it’s also Barbecue month! With the return of warmer weather to Calgary, it’s time to fire up those grills and celebrate the wonders of BBQ in Southern Alberta.

Depending on who you ask, barbecuing is a year-round cooking option. For others, it’s seen as a summertime event to be shared with friends and family. Either way, we’ve got some tips for ultimate BBQ success. Read on!

First-time Barbecue Setup at Home

Safety should be your first priority when setting up your grill or barbecue at home. The intense heat and flames can be a fire hazard, so it’s important to consider where to place it.


Only use propane, gas, and charcoal grills outdoors – never indoors – which includes spaces like a confined porch, breezeway or garage. Choosing an open area is a safe, worry-free way to grill in your backyard.

A common mistake is grilling too close to your house. In some places, regulations state that you must locate your barbecue 10 feet from your home with immediate access to a working garden hose. While we don’t have those rules in Alberta, it’s a safe standard to apply. The ideal location is away from your home, deck railings, and not under any eaves, overhanging branches or surfaces that can catch fire.

Barbecue Setup

Once the location is decided, it’s time to choose your equipment. Propane or gas barbecue grills are always a popular choice. Setting up a simple freestanding model makes barbecuing easy and no longer a chore. It also gives you the flexibility of moving it around your deck or backyard depending on the size of your gathering (or the direction of the wind to avoid being downwind of smoke).

Depending on what type of grill or barbecue you decide to buy, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on setup and usage.

Creative Outdoor Barbecue Zones

If you’re ready to take your BBQ ritual to a whole new level, then get set to make your cooking experience a lot more pleasurable.

There are lots of options if you want to design the perfect barbecue zone. Barbecues come in all shapes, sizes and include speciality functions from smokers to rotisseries. Some models are designed to be freestanding whiles others are meant to be integrated and built into outdoor workstations. Depending on your setup, you can choose durable outdoor worktops, island units and seating options.

Decide what you will use your BBQ for the majority of the time. Consider whether you want storage, counter space, or simply a small spot to grill simply now and then. A well-equipped space can make barbecuing more sociable and memorable so have fun imagining your ideal space!

Checking the Grill After the Winter

Especially at this time of year, it’s always recommended to thoroughly inspect your barbecue or grill prior to using it for the first-time after winter.

Check tubes for blockages from insects, spiders or food grease. Inspect hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks. Replace scratched or damaged connectors, which can leak gas. If you smell gas, check all the connectors to ensure they’re properly connected and in good shape. Do not attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself.

Before you light your barbecue, if you’re unsure about how to grill safely you can always check out these tips from the Alberta government:

A well-maintained grill makes backyard cooking a safe, enjoyable experience for all.

Start Grilling

When you’re all setup, it’s time to grill. Barbecuing isn’t difficult – even if you’re not much of a cook. There’s no end to the number of ideas, ways and techniques about how to do it well. A quick search online or trip to the bookstore will result in an abundance of tips, tricks and recipes. While meat is certainly a showstopper and the primary ingredient for some BBQs, there are also some great recipes for appetizers, vegetarians, side dishes and even desserts. There’s almost no limit to all the different foods you can try. Happy grilling!