Getting all Fired Up Outside

January 4, 2015

Get outside and enjoy the cool afternoons and early evenings by turning up the heat.  Outdoor living is all about the focal point.  You need a reason to compete with the inside comforts of your home and that focal point can be a great fireplace or fire pit.  It’s true if you build a fire pit or fireplace they will come ~ no matter what the season you will find that your friends and family tend to gravitate towards it. 


The warmth of the fire tends to draw us in like magnets. For our family it’s a natural hangout at the end of a day. We spend time catching up on the days happenings, while watching the dogs play.  


Fire pits are very popular and there are hundreds of different choices from the chiminea that started it all a few years ago to stone fire pits, polished fire bowls, and tables with fire in the center.  These fire pits burn wood, natural gas, propane or alcohol-base gel.  Many options for any pocketbook. 


Portable fire pits 

Consider location first. Never locate on a wooden deck for obvious reasons.  Stone, brick or concrete surfaces are best.  Rugged copper to stainless modern style fire pits can be found at any hardware store starting at $75. The choices are endless.  


If you can’t find the one you want at your local hardware store, there are hundreds of web sites to choose from.


In ground fire pits 

DIY project?  If your summer vacation ever included camping, you probably experienced a campfire.  Today you can build a stylish fire pit and relive those campfire memories in your own backyard. 

A simple creation can be as easy as digging a hole in the ground, filling the bottom with gravel and lining the sides with stone.  Once you’ve found your spot it’s time to lay out your fire pit.


Step 1:  Draw a circle with spray paint, keeping to a four foot diameter.  

Step 2:  Dig down one foot, keeping the sides vertical and the bottom smooth.  Go back to the center and dig a one foot wide and deep hole.  This creates a holding tank for water run off.  

Step 3:  Fill the hole and base with 6” of 3/4” drainage gravel (found at your local hardware store).  Level gravel - this serves as your base for your stone walls.

Step 4:  Surround the inside walls with large stones.  They should rise above ground level about one foot.  Add wood to the center, start your fire and enjoy. 

Items needed:  Shovel, drainage gravel, large stones.  ~  $20-$100.  ~  1 day to complete.


However you may want a very polished design with modern conveniences.  An above ground fire pit can be quite spectacular.   They can be constructed of brick, flagstone, fieldstone or cast stone to create a rustic or modern look.   


My most recent fire pit was built of fieldstone and located in the middle of a concrete patio.  If your short of space look to the edges and build on a corner.  Adding a natural gas starter for convenience must be installed before hand and requires a licensed professional.  Consult with a knowledgeable landscape designer or stone professional before preceding with your fire pit.  The result will be a custom creation that fits your personal tastes, while bringing your family years of backyard enjoyment.



The outdoor structures serve as a handsome anchor for your gathering spot. Free standing or attached to your home, they will become a conversation piece as well as a gathering point for your guests.  Let’s face it the main reason for a fireplace is its ambience and warmth.  


Locate the fireplace where it will offer your family a destination. It can also be located to screen an undesirable view.   Coordinate the fireplace with the house.  The architectural style and materials should relate to one another.  


Search the web for ideas, then create an original plan to fit your outdoor space.  Building a fireplace requires working with professionals like landscape architects or custom home builders, and can cost a few thousand dollars.


In design, adding side walls to a fireplace can create extra seating, or if you like to barbecue one side wall can be built to hold your grill, propane tank and additional storage. 


Your backyard is an extension of your home and it can be a warm and inviting space, especially after adding a fire pit or fireplace that you can enjoy throughout the year.


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