Once you decide to install a fire pit for those relaxed evenings outdoors, meet with a landscape architect or professional builder who specializes in such construction. They can help you narrow down your preferences on customizable design elements.
Want to get a head start on your design? You can start planning your design today by answering a few key questions:
Outer Material: Stone or Brick?
Whether you choose rugged stone or sleek slate, the outer material is a key design feature. You may want to match your fire pit to your home, echoing the stone or brick of the walls of your house. Alternatively, you may choose to integrate it with your pool, blending the two landscape features together with a seamless flow of stone or tile. A fire pit should anchor and enhance your backyard landscape instead of sticking out like an intrusion—choose your fire pit material carefully to integrate the backyard landscape.
Construction: Imposing or Minimalist?
Fire pits come in all shapes and sizes. Your design choice will depend on the size of your backyard and the desired look of your outdoor space. Do you want an imposing stone structure that anchors your backyard or a minimalist feature that blends with the surrounding landscape?
A large fire pit, built of natural stone, gives weight and vertical elevation to your landscape. It provides a natural gathering place for friends and family with a sizeable hearth providing a perfect spot for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. However, if you have limited space or prefer a more minimalist design, a sleek slate or concrete fire pit can create a beautiful backdrop for social gatherings. Modern fire pit designs can even flow seamlessly into your pool area, combining fire and water in one elegant feature.
Fuel: Wood, Propane, or Natural Gas?
Another key decision is whether your fire pit will burn wood, propane, or natural gas. These fuel sources depend on both local availability and individual preferences, and they each offer distinct advantages.
Advantages of a Wood-Burning Fire Pit
Nothing matches the nostalgia of a crackling wood fire. You can customize the smell (and flavor, if you’re cooking in your fire pit) by using different types of wood. Fueling your fire pit with wood is particularly useful if you live in a forested area and often have extra firewood available.
Advantages of a Propane Fire Pit
Propane offers a clean burn and is considered a green fuel. So, it would be a good choice if you want an environmentally friendly fuel source. This fuel source also offers ease of use, as you won’t need to chop wood or kindle a fire. And portable propane tanks allow for location flexibility and portability, with no need to run gas lines.
Advantages of a Natural Gas Fire Pit
Natural gas is also considered an environmentally friendly fuel. It increases ease of use of a fire pit, since you simply light it and enjoy—no need for cumbersome fire building. Natural gas requires more upfront work with gas line installation and safety regard. However, it pays off because it is usually a cheaper energy source than propane.
Inner Materials: Stone Pebbles, Lava Rock, or Glass Rocks?
With the major structural features in place, it’s time to consider the inner materials. Choose a material that enhances the overall ambiance of your fire pit and echoes the vibe of your backyard landscape. You have three main choices of inner material, and they all have something different to offer:
Advantages of Stone Pebbles
Stone pebbles provide a tranquil, natural feel. As you know if you’ve ever experienced a hot stone massage, stones hold heat well and may stay hot long after your fire is extinguished. However, stones may impede the flow of gas due to their size, so you may need to use other materials within your fire pit and scatter stones along the surface.
Advantages of Lava Rocks
No material creates an exotic fire pit feel quite like lava rocks. Instantly transporting you to a tropical volcano landscape, rocks formed by lava naturally provide a very practical material for fire pits. Lava rocks’ porous formation allows gas to seep through, providing an ideal filler for fire pits. However, lava rocks should not be used in combined water/fire features.
Advantages of Glass Rocks
A newcomer to the fire pit filler scene, sparkling glass rock has become popular with those looking to add a dash of elegance. Naturally, sparkling glass is a dazzling centerpiece to your landscape, and you’ll likely find guests mesmerized by the flicker of flame against colorful glass. Small pieces of glass in a wide range of rich colors allow flames to flicker brilliantly, providing an excellent filler for a glamourous landscape.
Functionality: Decorative or Hardworking?
While a well-designed fire pit is likely to enhance any landscape, you can also choose a design that pulls its weight in other ways, such as cooking or heating. Which should you choose? That depends on which of these elements meets your family’s lifestyle:
Decorative Fire Pits
Any fire pit can be decorative and dramatically enhance the landscape. If you are satisfied with decorative function and don’t demand anything else of your fire pit, then your design choices are nearly limitless.
Choose from sleek in-ground designs, or poolside fire and water features. Decorative metal and colorful glass enhance the dramatic flames of these backyard showpieces.
Functional Fire Pits
If you want your fire pit to go beyond mere landscape décor, there are plenty of functional design choices. Fire pits that produce heat can provide a welcome gathering place on a chilly evening. To produce enough heat to warm those huddled around, choose a design with enough room for a roaring fire.
If you dream of weenie roasts and s’mores, you might want to consider a tabletop firepit, which is a large, open pit surrounded by a surface built for lounging and dining. Or, if you really want to go all out, you can transform your fire pit into a functional brick oven. Wood-fired pizzas on a summer evening will make you glad that you put in the extra effort to create a gourmet’s dream fire pit.
Customization: What’s Your Vision?
Even the most basic fire pit provides a welcome gathering place and a refuge of warmth on chilly evenings. But if you’re looking for a little more, you can transform your fire pit into your backyard’s starring attraction. Not only will you enjoy this custom fire pit each time you step outside, you’ll wow your friends and family at your backyard gatherings. Here are a few show-stopping options:
Fire and water provide beautiful contrast, and if you combine the two in a backyard design element, you’ll have a truly stunning scene. Think of fire shooting forth from a flowing fountain or water trickling over the sides of a towering stone fire pit. Surround your pool with fire bowls shooting arches of water over swimmers for even more scenic drama.
Ring of Fire
How would you like to surround your guests with a ring of fire, for a truly dramatic dining experience? A narrow channel of fire that runs the length of your patio or gently flickering table top fire pits provides a memorable meal. Ringing your patio with fire also ups the heat and light that your fire pit provides, creating a magical scene for outdoor dinner parties.
Fiery Metal-Forged Scenes
Fire pit globes provide space for artisans to cut designs into the metal of the sphere; designs range from the homeowner’s name to cutouts of mythical creatures. When the cut designs are surrounded by roaring flames, it creates a dramatic centerpiece. Custom metal designs can also be combined with traditional materials like stone or tile for a one-of-a-kind design.
Once you have the basics down, your builder will get to work, creating a beautiful fire pit with professionally designed features to provide for both safety and functionality. While you anticipate the completion of your custom fire pit, stock up on hot dogs and marshmallows. You’ll need plenty of both for many relaxed evenings to come.