The cold nights have set in for the year and the patio furniture has been put away. But the landscape looks lovely and it hasn’t started to snow yet. Do you find yourself longing to be outside in the cool crisp air? The fact of the matter is, fall and early spring are great times to get out and enjoy the landscape. Sitting outside under the stars warmed by your outdoor fire pit or fireplace is the perfect way to do it. People are always drawn to fire and fire pit or fire place is a wonderful centerpiece for entertaining and enjoying the night air.
Creating an outdoor fire area was one of the top ten trends for 2011 and will continue to be popular in the next few years as more homeowners want to enjoy their current property and enhance their lifestyle without the necessity of going away on vacation or upgrading to a new home. Expanding the home’s livable space outdoors, creating a destination spot will provide a return on your investment. So let’s help you design the perfect outdoor fire pit for your property. There are several things to consider when integrating a fire element into your landscape.
Safety is our first concern, you need to consider safety at all times when in and around the fire pit or fire place. Consult with your local regulations about having a fire pit or outdoor fireplace. Some towns and cities do not allow open fires and other towns only allow gas fire pits. It is also important to know the fire conditions in your area whenever creating a fire outside. Burning embers can be hazardous during drought conditions so proper placement of the fire is essential for full enjoyment and safe use.
Secondly, it is important choose the right place. It is best to place the outdoor fire pit, chiminea or fireplace safely away from the house or any other combustible structure. Consider where the prevailing winds are from and try to prevent smoke from blowing into any nearby windows or doors or over adjacent patio or deck spaces. We generally try and include some level sitting area, patio or lounging area to place chairs or benches to enjoy the warmth of the fire.
Third, consider how much you want to spend.If you have never had a fireplace or fire pit at your property and you are unsure if you would use it, it is best start with a small propane unit or standalone wood unit. These are lower cost, moveable and don’t need to installed by a licensed plumber, which make the cost much lower. There are many of these style on the market and can be picked up at most home improvement stores. They can be easily integrated into almost any landscape.
Built-in or built onsite fireplaces and fire pits are typically much more expensive and complicated. If you choose to install a built in gas or propane fireplace or fire pit, the utilities necessary will need to be coordinated and installed by a licensed plumber. The source of the fuel can be an underground propane tank or natural gas connection. There are many manufactures that make “turn-key” systems that just need to be attached to a gas line. There are also manufacturers who make custom burners designed to be installed into a masonry structure built on site.
Built in wood fire pits and fireplace are straight forward and don’t need a licensed plumber to get them running. Wood burning units can be as simple as a stone ring in the backyard or portable fire pit to complex masonry units set up as fire pits or fireplaces. Storage for the wood to keep it dry is essential. The fuel source for the unit must be safely away and conform to local building codes.
Chimineas are a another great alternative for smaller space. They are charming looking and mostly enclosed so that the heat only radiates out the front opening. They are also inexpensive. Some models can do double duty as a grill.
Lastly you need to consider is convenience and aesthetics. Gas models are very clean burning, so smoke is not a concern. Gas fire pits can be turned on and off instantly. The convenience of a gas fire pit is very appealing to many people. The time it takes to get a good fire going and skill required at laying and setting a fire deters some people. However, the aroma of freshly burning logs is undeniable the greatest.
Fire pits can be made from many materials such as: corten steel,stainless steel, cast aluminum, copper, clay, stone, or other materials. This allows you to match the look of the fire pit to the decor of the space it is in. Units can be set above ground or in ground to accommodate the gathering space. Fire pits come in all shapes and sizes, from round to square to oval or rectangular.
The key is to create a space that works together from a design perspective, meets your needs and fits your budget. Not sure where to start? Let us help you design the perfect outdoor entertaining space with a fire element for your property.