Best Plants for BBQs: Enhance Your Summer Grilling Experience

Summer is a season cherished for its outdoor gatherings, where the sizzle of the grill and the aroma of delicious food fill the air. As you prepare to host memorable barbecues in your backyard, consider adding a green touch that not only beautifies your outdoor space but also enhances your grilling experience in practical ways. From providing shade and repelling insects to offering fresh ingredients for your recipes, the right plants can significantly elevate your BBQ setup. In this comprehensive guide, we explore the best plants for BBQs that will transform your outdoor area into a vibrant and functional oasis.

1. Trees and Shrubs for Shade and Ambiance

The summer sun can be intense, especially during midday barbecues. Incorporating trees and shrubs that provide shade not only creates a more comfortable environment for your guests but also adds a natural aesthetic to your outdoor space. Here are some ideal choices:

a. Maple Trees: Known for their dense foliage and ability to provide ample shade, maple trees are excellent additions to any BBQ area. Varieties like the Red Maple or Sugar Maple offer beautiful foliage and vibrant fall colors, enhancing the visual appeal of your backyard throughout the seasons.

b. Magnolia Trees: With their large, glossy leaves and fragrant blooms, magnolia trees not only provide shade but also lend a touch of elegance to your outdoor setting. Choose a variety such as the Southern Magnolia for its lush greenery and striking white flowers, creating a serene backdrop for your BBQ gatherings.

c. Crape Myrtle: These colorful flowering shrubs or small trees are perfect for adding bursts of color to your outdoor space. Crape myrtles bloom profusely in summer, offering shades of pink, purple, red, or white flowers. They thrive in sunny locations and are relatively low maintenance, making them an ideal choice for enhancing your BBQ area’s ambiance.

2. Herbs for Flavor Enhancement and Insect Repellent

No barbecue is complete without the aroma and flavor of fresh herbs. Not only do they elevate your culinary creations, but many herbs also naturally repel insects, making them perfect companions for outdoor dining. Consider planting these herbs near your BBQ area:

a. Rosemary: This fragrant herb is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and pairs exceptionally well with grilled meats and vegetables. Rosemary also has natural insect-repellent properties, making it a practical choice for keeping pests at bay during your outdoor gatherings.

b. Lavender: Known for its calming scent and beautiful purple flowers, lavender is not just a pretty addition to your garden but also an effective mosquito deterrent. Use lavender flowers to infuse syrups or cocktails, adding a unique twist to your BBQ beverages.

c. Basil: A versatile herb that comes in many varieties, basil is essential for adding freshness to salads, marinades, and grilled dishes. Its strong aroma helps repel mosquitoes and flies, making it a valuable addition to your outdoor herb garden.

d. Mint: With its refreshing flavor and ability to thrive in various conditions, mint is perfect for cocktails, teas, and desserts served at your BBQ. Plant mint in containers to prevent it from spreading uncontrollably in your garden.

3. Plants for Natural Bug Control

While enjoying your BBQ outdoors, dealing with insects can be a nuisance. Incorporating plants that naturally repel mosquitoes, flies, and other pests can significantly enhance your outdoor dining experience. Here are some effective options:

a. Citronella: Perhaps the most well-known natural insect repellent, citronella is a perennial grass that emits a strong fragrance that masks other attractants to mosquitoes. Plant citronella in pots or as border plants around your BBQ area to create a protective barrier against pests.

b. Marigolds: These cheerful annual flowers not only add a pop of color to your garden but also deter mosquitoes, aphids, and other insects with their distinct scent. Plant marigolds in containers or along the edges of your patio to discourage pests from invading your BBQ space.

c. Lemon Balm: Related to mint, lemon balm releases a pleasant lemony fragrance that repels mosquitoes. It’s also a useful culinary herb, adding a hint of citrus flavor to beverages and salads served at your BBQ.

4. Fruit Trees for Fresh Ingredients

Imagine plucking fresh fruits from your own backyard to use in marinades, salads, or desserts at your BBQ. Fruit trees not only provide tasty additions to your menu but also enhance the overall appeal of your outdoor space. Consider these fruit trees for your BBQ area:

a. Citrus Trees: Lemon, lime, and orange trees not only bear fruit that can be used in marinades and beverages but also provide evergreen foliage that adds beauty to your garden year-round. Choose dwarf varieties if space is limited or plant them in containers for easy maintenance.

b. Apple Trees: With their crisp, juicy fruits and beautiful blossoms in spring, apple trees are a delightful addition to any backyard. Choose varieties that are suitable for your climate and enjoy the bounty of apples for fresh eating or grilling at your summer BBQs.

c. Peach Trees: Known for their sweet, juicy fruits and attractive pink blooms in spring, peach trees thrive in sunny locations with well-drained soil. Incorporate a peach tree into your garden to enjoy fresh peaches straight from the tree or grilled for a delicious dessert at your BBQ.

5. Ornamental Grasses and Flowers for Beauty

Enhance the visual appeal of your BBQ area with ornamental grasses and flowers that add texture, color, and interest to your outdoor space. These plants require minimal maintenance and provide year-round beauty:

a. Ornamental Grasses: Varieties such as fountain grass, maiden grass, or pampas grass add height and movement to your garden with their feathery plumes and graceful arching foliage. Plant ornamental grasses in clusters or as borders to create a natural backdrop for your BBQ area.

b. Hydrangeas: These classic flowering shrubs are prized for their large, colorful blooms that last throughout the summer. Choose hydrangea varieties that thrive in your climate and enjoy their showy flowers in shades of blue, pink, purple, or white as part of your BBQ garden design.

c. Daylilies: With their vibrant blooms and easy-care nature, daylilies are perfect for adding splashes of color to your garden beds or containers near the BBQ area. These perennial flowers come in a wide range of colors and bloom profusely throughout the summer, enhancing the beauty of your outdoor space.

6. Container Plants for Flexibility

If you have limited garden space or want to create a portable garden that can be rearranged as needed, consider planting herbs, flowers, or small shrubs in containers. Container plants offer flexibility and can be placed strategically around your BBQ area to maximize convenience and aesthetic appeal:

a. Tomatoes: Grow cherry tomatoes or larger varieties in containers placed near your grill for easy access to fresh, homegrown tomatoes for salads, burgers, or grilled vegetable skewers at your BBQ.

b. Peppers: Whether you prefer sweet bell peppers or spicy jalapeños, peppers thrive in containers and can be placed on your patio or deck near the BBQ for harvesting fresh peppers to add to your grilled dishes.

c. Succulents: For a low-maintenance option that adds texture and visual interest to your outdoor space, consider planting succulents in containers. These drought-tolerant plants come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, making them versatile additions to your BBQ garden design.


Transforming your backyard into a BBQ paradise involves more than just a grill and seating area—it’s about creating a welcoming environment that enhances your culinary experience and delights your guests. By incorporating the right plants, from shade-providing trees and herbs for flavor enhancement to natural bug repellents and fruit-bearing trees, you can create a functional and beautiful outdoor space that sets the stage for memorable summer gatherings. Whether you’re hosting a casual weekend cookout or a festive evening BBQ, these plants will ensure that your outdoor entertaining is both enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing. Start planning your BBQ garden today and reap the rewards of a vibrant and flourishing outdoor oasis this summer.

By investing in the best plants for BBQs, you’re not only enhancing your outdoor space but also creating opportunities for culinary creativity and natural beauty that will be enjoyed throughout the summer season and beyond. Happy grilling

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