Where to place a grill – experts share the 2 important rules to follow

These are the only rules about where to place a grill

An example of where to place a grill, a charcoal grill cooking corn and kebabs away from a table
(Image credit: Getty Images / Virojt Changyencham)

As we get into grilling season, it's smart to reconsider where you place your grill. It's often easiest to put it wherever you have room, but it's not always the best spot.

A badly-placed grill means smoke blowing at your house, worries about fire safety, or tricky the logistics as you get your food to the table. Where you place your grill can have a big impact on your food. 

I've tried lots of different grill configurations as I've tested the best grills, so I know exactly what works and what doesn't. I also spoke to a landscaper and a grilling expert about where to place a grill for the best results. 

Rule 1: The 6 Foot Rule

A grill in front of a wooden dining

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There's a golden rule when placing a grill in your backyard. You need six feet of clearance in every direction around your grill, so it shouldn't back against the wall of your house or against a railing. This is so that no one trips nearby and nothing can catch on the grill and start a fire. 

Barbecue judge Harry Miller agrees, telling me that a grill 'needs to be far away from the house and any flammable or combustible items such as a stack of firewood. If you have a concrete patio, it can sit right on the patio surface and should not be an issue.' He also warned that the 6 feet rule also applies vertically. 'Remember, heat rises, so check the air space above the grill as well. Trees, tall shrubs, or bushes can be affected by this heat or, worse, catch fire.' This also means that you shouldn't grill under a porch or a gazebo. 

A headshot of barbecue expert Harry Miller
Harry Miller

Harry serves on the Jr. Cook-off subcommittee, which hosts a steak cook-off for the future champion pitmasters. He has been a part of the World's Champion Barbeque Committee for years. 

Rule 2: Consider the wind

A close up of grilling sausages on a charcoal grill, with grill smoke

(Image credit: Getty Images / Sean Gladwell)

A less vital but important rule is to consider the wind. A rough idea of the prevailing wind in your local area will help you place your grill. Harry Miller told me to 'Take the wind direction into account. Keep your guests, the kids, and furry friends out of the line of smoke.' 

Grill smoke can be bad for your health, and you don't want it stinging people's eyes as they relax. Wind direction is also crucial for keeping your neighbors on your side. A poorly placed grill could blow smoke right at their house, which is anti-social.

Should I place my grill on a patio or deck?

A gas grill on a deck

(Image credit: Getty Images / arinahabich)

It's straightforward: a patio is the best place for a grill. There's a much lower fire risk on stonework than on any other material, and the flat surface makes it easy to move your grill around if you need to reconfigure your furniture.

Grill placement on a deck depends on the material. Unfortunately, you shouldn't put a grill on a wooden deck. There's an obvious fire risk with having a hot grill on top of wood, so it's best not to grill on a wooden deck. 

Of course, for some people, this can't be helped. Barbecue judge Harry Miller says that if you can only put your grill on a wooden deck, 'get a non-flammable grill mat or buy a piece of concrete backer board and put it under the grill.' You can get cheap grill mats at Walmart, and you can get concrete backer board at Home Depot, or other big-box hardware stores. Harry's other tip is that 'If you want the backer board to have better eye appeal, spray paint it with black high-heat grill paint.' You can grab high-heat grill paint at Amazon or a local hardware store. 

Can I place my grill near a pool or a hot tub?

The six-foot rule also applies to pools. Rafi Friedman, CEO of Coastal Luxury Outdoors, told me that it just creates too many risks. 

'A hot grill falling into a pool full of people could lead to serious injuries, splashing water can create a slippery environment, and there's also the risk that the food - or the cook - could fall in,' he says.  

A headshot of Rafi Friedman
Rafi Friedman

Rafi is CEO of a pool building, construction and cleaning company in Florida. We service over 1,000 clients and build over 100 pools annually.

Are there HOA rules about where I can place my grill?

Homeowners Associations often have rules about where you can and can't grill, and these vary depending on the Association. A HOA may have rules about how far away your grill must be from your house; for example, some HOAs take the six-foot rule even further, and say your grill must be ten feet away from any hazards. This is especially true in multi-family units. Many apartments and condominiums ban grilling, even if you own your condo. 

However, lots of HOAs don't have any rules about grilling at all, because most people grill in their backyard. It varies from place to place, so make sure you research the rules before you buy a new grill. 

For more about grills, I've covered best wood for smoking and taken a deep dive into the debate about charcoal vs gas grills.

Alex David
Head of eCommerce

As Head of eCommerce, Alex makes sure our readers find the right information to help them make the best purchase. After graduating from Cambridge University, Alex got his start in reviewing at the iconic Good Housekeeping Institute, testing a wide range of household products and appliances. He then moved to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, assessing gardening tools, machinery, and wildlife products. Helping people find true quality and genuine value is a real passion.