Enhance your barbecue experience by adding attractive features to your outdoor living area.

There are many things to do after buying a home. One of them can be making your backyard barbecue-friendly. Entertaining friends and family is the perfect solution for passing warm afternoons and evenings. However, if your barbecue area suffered during the colder months or lacks the facilities or design necessary for an enjoyable outdoor experience, it may be time for an upgrade. Here are five ways you can enhance your backyard entertaining experience:

1. Create an Entertainment Space

By creating an entertainment space, your guests will have a spot to relax and enjoy a meal or a refreshing cocktail. A patio or deck provides a beautiful area for guests to gather while you work the grill. The type of outdoor space you choose will depend on several factors including your budget and the existing terrain. A deck is often constructed using wood or composite material, and is elevated off the ground.

Costs will vary depending on the size and design of the deck. Patios, on the other hand, are a more budget-friendly option. While you can also spend thousands of dollars on this project, less expensive alternatives are available at most home-improvement stores or garden centers. There are also a number of do-it-yourself options, allowing you to save on labor costs.

2. Create a Designated Barbecue Area

To get your backyard ready for a barbecue, you should create a designated cooking area. Whether you’re making ribs, steak or chicken, you’ll need a space that’s safe from heat and hot oil. Aside from safety concerns, you should consider a grilling area that allows you to cook without guests interfering. Grilling can also be messy, so think about placing your equipment on an easy-to-clean surface, such as concrete, patio pavers or gravel.

3. Invest in a New Grill

While a grill’s functionality is the most important factor, preparing food on a dirty, rusty, antiquated grill is not very appetizing. You may want to consider purchasing a new grill grate — or even a new grill — before your next event. Today’s grills come in a variety of styles and sizes, and are available with side burners or an attached smoker, which allows you to grill and smoke food at the same time. You could also go with an electric version that requires no gas or charcoal, or a dual version that takes charcoal or gas.

4. Install a Fire Pit

Inspire your guests by adding an outdoor fire pit to your yard. While a fire pit might not prove to be very popular during the day or afternoon, it will be much appreciated in the cooler evening hours as guests enjoy its warm glow. Fire pits also provide a relaxing focal point and add ambiance to your outdoor living areas. They come in many sizes, types and materials, but the most common fire pits burn natural gas, propane or firewood. While elaborate versions are often built-in to the surrounding landscaping and can be quite costly, less expensive, portable versions can be found at most home improvement or garden centers.

5. Install a Water Feature

Water features provide many of the same aesthetic benefits as a fire pit, but without the flame, heat and smoke, which allows you to use it anytime during the day or night. Do-it-yourself kits are available at many home improvement and garden centers, or you can hire a contractor to install a one-of-a-kind custom version that is aligned with your personal style.

Aside from making your space feel attractive and welcoming during the backyard barbecue season, marketing a prime outdoor living area can be extremely valuable if you decide to sell your home in the future. Start with these tips, and for more home improvement ideas and a wealth of real estate information, head to Owners.com.