Fall is for fire! While our landscapes are usually designed to be enjoyed during warm weather, when autumn rolls around, we are less likely to spend outside. If you want a dynamic and inviting fall landscape, add a fire feature to draw friends and family into the brisk autumn air.
Fire creates a reason to gather, socialize, and celebrate with your friends and family outside. There is a universal joy that comes from sitting around the fire whether chatting, roasting marshmallows, or just staring deep into the fire’s core.
So how do you incorporate the element of fire into the landscape?
Design a Fire Feature into the Landscape
If you’re in the preliminary stages of planning your landscape, incorporate fire at the earliest stages of landscape design. Because fire features are about attracting people to sit and stay awhile, consider how many people, and how much space they will need.
Position fire features close to the house for convenience, or make them a destination within the landscape. By placing a fire further from the house, it draws people into the landscape. You may also decide to obscure the view of the fire feature with strategic design if you want to provide seclusion for people around the fire.
Even if you choose to make your fire pit a destination, don’t think of it as an afterthought! A secondary patio with attractive stone steps or a walkway from the main patio through lush landscaping expands the usable space of your property.
Simply add fire to the landscape – just place a portable fire pit, chiminea, or stove onto an existing hardscape area. Portable fire pits are often less expensive than built-in ones, and they can be moved around the site. However, the ones that are light enough to move around are often made of cheaper materials, and may need to be replaced every few years.
Most hardware stores have several selections of fire pit kits designed to be built in a weekend. These can be placed directly on the ground or constructed on existing patios. Most of these consist of concrete block set in a circle and come in a variety of colors.
Built-in fire features look more intentional, upscale, and refined because they are clearly planned and part of the bigger landscape. They are created from stone or cast concrete block.
Work with a professional designer and mason when planning for a custom fire feature. A designer determines how the feature will work within the whole landscape and makes sure it is functional for the size groups you plan to entertain. A professional mason ensures that this custom feature to your landscape is built appropriately and will last a long time.
Some people love the smoky smell and the crackling sounds associated with wood burning fires. There is also something rewarding about tending a wood fire, stoking and adding wood as the fire ebbs and watching it revive.
Wood burning fires may be your best choice if you have a wooded lot or have easy access to firewood. And compared to gas fire pits, these fire pits tend to be less expensive.
Disadvantages to these fire features are that the fires are more difficult to extinguish and they tend to be messier. You will also need a source of firewood and a place to store it.
As an aside, do not harvest wood from parks and wild areas. Not only is this illegal, but transporting wood from unknown sources may inadvertently spread pests and diseases to new areas. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is a major threat to our region, so please don’t contribute to its spread by moving wood around.
Gas burning fire features are typically more expensive because a plumber is required to run and connect the pipes. However, a gas burning fire feature can add the ambiance of a wood burning fire with a few differences. Gas burning fire pits…
- don’t need to be stoked.
- don’t provide the smoky smell associated with burning wood.
- are easy to turn on and off – usually just a switch or knob.
- don’t require buying, moving, and storing wood.
- have the capability to adjust the flame.
Other ways to incorporate fire within your landscape:
There are many ways to incorporate a fire into the landscape. Chimineas, outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, and torches all add warmth and entertainment to outdoor spaces. Regardless of the way you choose to integrate fire into your landscape, it is sure to be a feature that friends and family will love to gather around.