This Old House: Planning and Ideas

Southern Living: Home and Garden

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Patio Fire Pits - Choosing Which Type to Have in Your Landscape

Patio fire pits are a popular outdoor feature in recent years. If you think you might enjoy the atmosphere of sitting outside with a cozy fire glowing, you might consider adding a fire pit to your landscape design. The enjoyment is enhanced if nice seating is located near it to enjoy the view, warmth and general ambiance.

Fire pits can be built in or portable. They can be wood burning for a true rustic experience, or they can be operated by gas.

The gas method can be either natural gas or propane. If natural gas is used, a gas line must be installed. Using a propane tank is more simple, as a flexible connection is supplied between the tank and the fire pit.

Built in fire pits are typically wood burning. Walls are built around it which have a few purposes. The walls are often stone or brick. Both the wall itself and stone or brick help with heat retention. Walls also can help to prevent sparks from escaping. Lastly, walls can serve as seat walls, where you can sit close to the fire. For seating, the walls should be between eighteen and twenty four inches high. They should be between twelve and eighteen inches deep.

Portable fire pits (if using wood or a propane gas tank) can be moved, which is a nice feature. It can be used in another location. For example, perhaps it is usually kept on your patio and you are having a pool party and want to use it there for the evening? It can also be removed from the patio in the heat of the summer, when it will not often be used, so that more useable patio space is available. If it is very hot, you won't be using it. The option of taking it away is a nice one. You won't have to have something there that does not function.

Fire pits can be purchased in various materials, although copper and steel are common. Copper ones will develop their own natural patina over time and are quite beautiful. You will find many that are raised with metal legs. Some are so attractive that they can become a focal point in your landscape. There are some that are enclosed with glass for safety. Wood burning portable fire pits often have screens to contain any sparks.

Fire pits can be used on patios, pool decking, lawn areas and even decks. When using one on a deck, special kinds must be purchased, approved for safety due to the wood decking in the area. I came across one that is enclosed with glass panels.

When locating a fire pit, place it in an area that can become a separate place for conversation or just quiet seclusion. The most common place to locate one is a patio, since this is usually the sitting area on your property. Add some furniture near it. Attractive benches, chaise lounges, outdoor sofas and the like work well. If it is visual from a dining table, even better!

Susan Schlenger is a Landscape Designer with a degree in Landscape Architecture. You can read more about Patio Fire Pits at her website.

You might also be interested in learning about Outdoor Living Rooms.

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