Fall is around the corner, a season that conjures visions of cozying up with a blanket, book, and cup of hot cocoa. But if you’re wanting to enjoy the beautiful oranges and reds of the autumn foliage, you may want to spend more time outdoors than inside. And what better way to do that than with an outdoor fire pit?
Fire pits instantly add intrigue and comfort to a backyard, along with a host of other benefits:
- They add ambiance to your backyard space
- You can enjoy them through multiple seasons
- They serve as gathering spaces for friends and family
- They’re a low-maintenance backyard feature
- Fire pit designs are versatile, and can be as simple or sophisticated as you want them to be
So, if you’ve got an outdoor fire pit project on your mind for the fall season, here are a few things to consider before getting started.
1. Location, Location, Location
The first thing you should consider when planning to build a fire pit should be its location: The fire needs to be a safe distance from any flammable surface. Aim to keep the fire pit at least 25 feet away from any structures including your house, any backyard sheds, any vehicles, or wooden decks.
Additionally, once you’ve narrowed down your options using the above considerations, don’t forget to take into account other factors like the fire’s exposure to wind and the elements (you don’t want to have smoke blown in your face or into your kitchen window). Having the fire in a place that is sheltered from breezes is a good way to make sure your fire pit doesn’t become a hazard.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure the fire pit is in a place where you and your guests have enough room to easily enjoy the fire and any other important elements of your backyard or landscape.
2. Design Options
When it comes to designing a fire pit, there are so many different design options to choose from! From deciding how large or small you want your fire pit to be, to deciding the materials, there’s no end to how creative you can get!
As far as materials go, metal fire pits are quite common, including steel, aluminum, or copper. Metal is light and easy to move, so choose this material if you change your mind often. If you’re looking for more sturdy options, concrete and stone are both durable materials that look beautiful up against a fire. These materials are extremely heavy, so be sure of your placement!
For a no frills, classic fire pit look, choose a circular, above-ground design. The shape makes gathering around a fire easy, and its accessible height makes for easy hand-warming or marshmallow roasting!
Looking for more of a campground-in-the woods feel? Try out a sunken fire pit. This style fire pit offers a low-profile look that is perfect for smaller spaces or minimalist design. As an added bonus, sunken fire pits are often safer because the flames aren’t as exposed to the wind!
For a fire pit that pulls twice its weight, consider a fire pit table. This kind of firepit can be either freestanding or incorporated as a part of an outdoor countertop or bar, so you and your guests can enjoy food and drinks while enjoying the warmth. Most fire pit tables come with a sleek cover that sits on top of the fire-portion of the table, so when it’s not in use it’s perfectly hidden.
3. Fuel Choices
When people think of fire pits, most people picture the wood-burning kind. Definitely the most straightforward kind of fire pit, with a wood burning pit, you can enjoy extra heat and the nostalgic campfire smokiness that conjures memories of s’mores and campfire songs.
Gas fueled fire pits burn cleaner than wood-burning fire pits, and are often chosen for their convenience. They light quickly, and when you shut off the gas, the flame is out, so no worrying about hot embers. While these aren’t quite as nostalgic, they’re perfect for the frequent entertainer or host/hostess.
Then there’s the natural gas fire pit. With a natural gas fire pit, you’re going to need to run a gas line into your backyard. That also means your fire pit will be a permanent fixture wherever you initially place it.
For those people who are looking for more flexibility with the placement of the fire pit, consider a propane-fed fire pit. These fire pits allow for heat, ambiance, and cooking capabilities, without the need to make major changes to your backyard or chop wood.
Finally, if you’re prioritizing aesthetics over heat, gel fueled fire pits are a great option. Gel fueled logs are clean, burn without producing a scent/smoke, and can be purchased for use in any fire pit design.
4. Safety Considerations
Before diving into the design of your fire pit, make sure to check your local fire pit codes by your city, county, or HOA to make sure your fire pit will be up to code. Some communities require a permit for a permanent fire pit, while others demand an on-site inspection by local fire officials.
Additionally, make sure your homeowners insurance includes some kind of coverage for fire-related damage, should an accident happen.
If you must place your fire pit on a wooden deck, purchase or build a fire pit pad that’s designed to protect flammable surfaces. Place the fire pit pad on the deck and make sure it extends at least 24 inches in all directions from the fire pit.
When it comes to using a gas fire pit, make sure the gas is always turned off when the fire pit is not in use. Do not use a gas fire pit for cooking unless it’s specifically designed for cooking. Always cover the gas fire pit when you’re finished using it.
5. Landscaping Integration
When planning your fire pit design, you want to make sure it’s going to fit into the existing landscape. Consider the existing plants and features, the flow of foot traffic, and whether or not a fire pit will complement other outdoor features or overwhelm them.
If your firepit seems to overwhelm the surrounding landscape, you can enhance the fire pit area with landscaping elements like:
- Softscape elements, such as shrubs, flowers, or grasses around the fire pit (but not too close, please!).
- More hardscape features such as a seating wall, retaining wall, or even decorative gravel to define the space.
- Landscape lighting to illuminate the fire pit area as well as any pathways.
You can also make the fire pit a focal point by surrounding it with complementary features, such as decorative stones or outdoor art pieces. Accessorize your seating area by adding outdoor cushions, throws, and decorative accents to make it inviting and comfortable.
6. Choosing the Right Professionals For the Job!
Finally, when planning what kind of fire pit to add to your backyard, you want to make sure you hire the right professionals who can handle your project. At McDonough Landscaping, we’ve been serving customers throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area since 2003, and specialize in landscape design and installation of residential projects.
There’s still time to get your custom fire pit project added to our 2023 fall calendar, so don’t wait! Contact us today! Our experienced staff can help you design and build an outdoor space you can enjoy all year long. Give us a call at (651) 755-7901 or contact us here. We look forward to getting started on your fall fire pit project!