A GUIDE TO THE BASIC RULES AND REGULATIONS
April in Germany: cherry blossoms bloom, warmer days start rolling in, and that old familiar scent of a barbecue somewhere in the distance begins to waft through parks and neighborhoods everywhere.
Want to get in on the grilling action this season, but not sure what’s allowed and what’s forbidden? This quick guide to barbecuing in Germany will give you all the general info you need to enjoy a season of responsible and worry-free outdoor cooking in the Bundesland.
GRILLING ON THE BALCONY
If you live in a rented apartment with a balcony, your situation is the most complicated one when it comes to barbecuing at home. The good news? The answer to the question of whether or not you may legally barbecue on your balcony is contained in your rental agreement. If your contract states that barbecuing is not allowed on the premises, then sorry: your grilling fun is restricted to designated public spaces (discussed below). If, on the other hand, your contract states that grilling is allowed, or makes no mention of grilling at all, then congratulations: grilling is a go.
Here’s where it gets a little more complicated.
Because apartment buildings house tenants in close proximity to one another, the chances of disturbing a neighbor or affecting the condition of their property with your grilling are much higher than in a private home with a garden. For this reason, it is recommended that anyone grilling on their balcony treat these two basic rules of thumb as gospel:
- Use an electric grill. Grilling with charcoal produces soot, which is virtually guaranteed to disturb your neighbors and cause damage to your balcony over time. No matter how much of a charcoal purist you may be, restrict your balcony grilling to electric. Instead of polluting your neighbors’ apartments with sooty smoke, you’ll merely tantalize them with the summery scent of grilled meats and veggies. Even if they’re the staunchest of vegans and detest the smell, as long as it doesn’t pose a threat to their property or their health, they’ll have to tolerate it.
- Check with your neighbors first. Even if the law is on your side, it is always recommended that you notify your neighbors of your intentions to grill ahead of time. Let them know that you have invested in a clean-cooking electric grill with their comfort and well-being in mind. Invite them for a burger and some grilled asparagus. German courts see cases involving balcony barbecuing every year, and although the decisions tend to favor those doing the grilling, many of the conflicts could be avoided altogether with a little bit of neighborly courtesy before the meat starts sizzling.
GRILLING IN THE BACKYARD / GARDEN
A backyard—or, in German, a Garten—affords barbecue enthusiasts more freedom than what is enjoyed by those of us who are bound to that special little island known as Balkonien. Got a garden? As a rule, check your rental agreement before you do anything else, but chances are you’re free to fire up the charcoal to your heart’s content. All that is required to keep your property undamaged and your neighbors unaffected by smoke is a little common sense. Place your grill wisely, and follow the second rule of thumb for balcony grillers above. If your neighbor is opposed to your grilling, they will probably inform you of any local legal precedents that might limit your grilling rights. More often than not, though, they’ll be cool with it as long as you’re courteous and responsible.
GRILLING IN PUBLIC
In Germany, there is no shortage of parks and green spaces with permanently installed charcoal barbecues intended for free public use. If you want to bring your own barbecue to public land, keep the following things in mind:
- Check the website of your city’s administration for all publicly designated barbecuing areas.
- Set up your grill at least 100 meters from any trees, residential areas, sporting and play facilities, or woods.
- Avoid both disposable barbecues and open fires. They’re bad for the land and pose a greater risk to public safety.
- Supervise the barbecue at all times and extinguish the fire completely after cooking.
- Dispose of all waste, including ash.
There you have it. Happy grilling, everyone.