Back in the day, outdoor living aspirations were simply a deck and a BBQ. Today, the evolution of outdoor living provides homeowners with the opportunity to create spectacular backyard living spaces that are full of comfort, convenience, and purpose. A central pillar in outdoor living space and the focus of this guide is the design of the backyard fire pit. Firepits are becoming increasingly popular as folks of all ages enjoy talking around the fire, telling stories, roasting s’mores and enjoying each other’s company.
Outdoor Fire Pit Considerations
The biggest consideration for an outdoor firepit is its location. The location of the firepit dictates many other features such as design, size, and the types of fuel that are ideal. Considerations when thinking about fire pit ideas include:
- Location - local fire codes could affect the location of the fire pit and its proximity to the dwelling structures
- Design material — Metal, brick, natural stone, glass
- Size — Big enough to enjoy or small enough to fit into your outdoor plans such as seating.
- Fuel types — Piped gas, wood, gel, or bottled gas
- Usages - Seating, cooking, chimney and smoke flow
- Options - Portable or stationary, table top or stand alone, etc.
These considerations begin to paint the picture from which you can identify the most viable of all of your fire pit design ideas.
Fire Pit Placement
One of the first things to realize when deciding to install a firepit in your yard is that you do not have to settle for manufactured fire pits, you can opt for a custom design. These are great if you have a smaller backyard, plan to use your it frequently, and want its' design to blend in with your existing landscape design.
Placement depends on a few factors. You want to consider its use both regarding ease of use and safety. The ideal location is in a open space so that you can enjoy the fire without fear of setting the surrounding landscape on fire.
Safety: Place it in a spot where it is safe to use both for your local environment and those who enjoy the beauty of an open fire.
- Place them away from trees and landscaping shrubs to prevent flames from catching ignitable material on fire.
- You also want to consider wind drift so that cinders from the fire do not blow into nearby shrubs, grass or other tinder.
- Ample walking space so that people can walk around or past the fire without risk of being burned or falling in. Safety first.
- Make sure to work with a professional who understands the local fire codes regarding placement of firepits and fireplaces.
Usage: Place your firepit in a spot that is inviting, makes it easy to use and enhances the enjoyment of an open fire.
- If you plan to use it frequently, then a good tip is to place it closer to your home (but not too close - check those fire codes).
- If you plan to use the it as a centerpiece for an outdoor sitting area, then consider factors such as wind and weather.
- If your home sits on a lake or has river frontage, then consider placing your it near the water. This will enhance the use of both features and allow for fun days enjoying the water, roasting marshmallows and hotdogs.
Convenience: Placement should enable you to enjoy your new feature as often as you want. This includes having fires year round.
- Consider the fuel supply and type. If you have to pack wood for a half mile to enjoy a fire, it becomes a burden. Piped gas is easy to use and always available. Wood is convenient and usually inexpensive, plus you gain that campfire feeling with the cracking and popping of wood as it burns. There are gel options that burn in a similar way to gel candles. There is propane gas in a canister that connects to your fire pit much like a propane tank to your gas grill.
- When you pick your location, think about year-round usage. If you have to traipse through two feet of snow for 100 feet, then you probably are not going to want to start a fire during the middle of winter. Pick a spot that offers the best opportunities so that you can use your it all year long.
Fire Pit Design
Custom vs. Boxed — We noted earlier that your choice for design includes more than just the manufactured styles of fire pits. There are plenty of custom examples of how these landscape features create beautiful centerpieces for your outdoor living space. In fact, fire pits are just the basics when it comes to outdoor living rooms. Some homeowners opt for a full outdoor fireplace or even wood fired pizza ovens. So, already your choices are many.
Portable or Permanent — If you want it to be portable then consider the benefits of a boxed fire pit but focus on quality. You want a fire pit that will last for at least several years. You will also need to store it when it is not in use, and that means cleaning it enough so that you can store it without it creating a mess. On the other hand are permanent designs, they offer the homeowner a customized approach to the beauty and fun of an outdoor fire. You can design them to use any fuel type. Because they are permanent, their design should include weatherization. They stand up to even the worst weather and last for years or longer. You also have the luxury of matching a custom fire pit to your landscape, house, and its trim. The drawback is that the location remains constant. That is also a plus, especially if you want the pit to become more than just a place where you have a fire now and then.
Size and Space — It needs to fit comfortably into the spot where you want to use it. It needs to have plenty of space around it so that people can stand near it and roast marshmallows and hotdogs and also where they can sit back from it and enjoy conversation, dinner, refreshments without the fire being intrusive. With a boxed pit, your limitations include sizes and availability. With a custom design, you specify the size and shape and the options are endless. Not all firepits need be round. There are many examples of a square, triangle, diamond, and other shapes that fit perfectly into their environment.
As you can see, there are many things to consider while designing a fire pit and working with a professional can help ensure that your design exceeds your wildest dreams. Once you have some goals and ideas in mind, or even if you don’t, schedule a consultation with a landscape contractor who can help walk you through this process. Local professionals will understand permitting and fire codes for your area to make sure that everything is up to code.