Welcome to Part 1 of our two part Designed for Entertainment series. This week, we bring you Fire Pits!
One of the true joys of summer is outdoor living—family dinners outside watching beautiful sunsets, gathering with friends under a starry sky, unwinding after work counting fireflies and listening to a symphony of crickets and cicadas. How to make the most of the season and extend it as long as possible? With landscape elements that not only look stunning, but also allow you to maximize both your enjoyment and length of time spent in your exterior space.
What could be lovelier than the golden glow and cozy warmth of a toasty fire outdoors when the first hints of fall with its crisp evening air begin? Fire pits can add value to your home as well as enjoyment. From simple, pre-built options to ones designed to fit your home’s design and your personal lifestyle, here are some things to think about when adding a fire pit to your home:
Perfect Placement – You’ll want to position your fire pit away from your home, fences or trees (at least 10’ is a good distance) and away from overhanging elements such as awnings or low hanging vegetation. The area immediately surrounding your fire pit shouldn’t be flammable (decorative grasses, plantings, etc.) and should be level to further ensure safety.
Know Your Code – There are city ordinances governing the building and use of fire pits, so check what your city’s requirements are before you start your project. Some cities ban open fires, but the use of a cover may be enough to be in compliance with local fire codes.
Permanent or Portable – If you’re looking for an option to add lasting value to your home, a permanent fire pit or fire table (the fire is in the center of a table you can dine on) is the way to go. If you want something more portable, a copper (lighter weight) or iron (for better heat) option gives you more flexibility.
Material world – Gas or wood? Like gas fireplaces, a gas fire pit makes for easy, clean-burning fires that are great for entertainment purposes. Natural wood fires burn hotter, have that wonderful campfire smell but do need stoking and ongoing attention to keep them going. Can’t decide between the two? There are dual-fuel options that let you switch back and forth.
When it comes to fire, not all stone is created equal. It’s imperative you fill your fire pit with the right materials. It may surprise you to know that gravel or sand can actually spark or even explode if they get too hot (which can happen with a wood fire pit, for instance). Options such as lava rock or specially designed fire pit glass are safer choices to consider. Make sure your lava rocks are always kept dry, since moisture in them combined with heat can cause even these rocks to explode. Use with caution the first time after it rains.
Space Odyssey – Once you’ve decided on the location and type (gas or wood) fire pit you want, next is determining size—the diameter and width. It should be scaled to fit your yard and your needs; is it proportional to other outdoor elements such as an outdoor kitchen or patio? Will it accommodate the number of people you intend to have enjoy it? Is it balanced with your furniture? If you’re unsure, a good rule of thumb is to size up. You don’t want to invest time and money into something that will leave you disappointed or family or friends out in the cold – literally!
All the Extras – you’ll get the most from your fire pit or fire table with the right accessories. For wood-burning pits, keep a bowl cover nearby for safety, and a fire stoker handy to keep the home fires burning. For gas options, use a cleaning broom regularly to keep the burners clear and prevent blockages.
Come back again next week for Designed for Entertainment Part 2 – Pergolas!