For many homeowners who want to enjoy their gardens, a wood deck with a barbecue is no longer enough.
Today, accessories mean things like ponds, flower beds, vegetable gardens, outdoor kitchens, and, increasingly, fire pits that crackle and glow. Before planning a fire pit and dreaming of a cool moonlit night with toasted marshmallows, here are a few more things to consider:
Wood or Gas?
While there are alternative fuel types such as gel fuel, wood or natural gas seems to be the most common choice.
Those who prefer real outdoor scents generally prefer burning real logs. Some fire pits use gas or propane for instant fire -- maybe even a remote switch -- although it's not as hot as a wood fire, and you won't get the same crackling and smoke.
What to Set It On?
Portable fire pits are best placed on natural surfaces such as concrete, stone, gravel, brick or flagstone, or on fire-resistant composite materials. If embers are flying around, it can be dangerous to put them on a wooden deck.
Where is the Right Location for Your Fire Pit?
Many neighborhoods need a minimum of 10 feet between your house and the yards of your neighbors.
How to Create the Right Ambiance?
Consider installing outdoor lighting near the pit to enhance your enjoyment. Make it subtle to avoid ruining the atmosphere of the campfire. LEDs that are energy-efficient can be plugged into a nearby outlet without the need for an electrician.
You might also want to think about seating: Perhaps classic Adirondack chairs, or a low stone wall at least 18 inches high, 12 inches wide, and 2 feet from the pit for safety.
What Safety Tips Should I Keep in Mind?
A fire of any kind — no matter the size — demands serious attention to safety. The National Fire Protection Association and ReadyWV offer the following fire pit safety advice:
- Check wind direction before you light a fire.
- Don’t use flammable fluids (gasoline, lighter fluid, etc.) to light or relight fires.
- Don’t wear flammable clothing (like nylon) or any loose-fitting clothing.
- Avoid using soft woods like pine or cedar, because they can “pop” and throw sparks.
- Make sure to keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the fire.
When you're finished with the fire for the night, you should also know how to safely dispose of the ashes.