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Outdoor Fire Pit Setup Done Right

Key considerations in designing the perfect fire-fueled al fresco arrangement.

Credit: UniFlame Corp. photo

Credit: UniFlame Corp. photo

Whether you prefer a tasteful fire pit on the patio, an outdoor hearth for maximum warmth or a backyard bonfire made for toasting marshmallows, outdoor fires have a certain magic that makes any get-together unforgettable. To build a successful blaze that offers a relaxing respite, check out the following guidelines.

  1. Before you start planning your design, check with your local code enforcement office to learn whether there are any restrictions in your area. Some areas, particularly western states prone to wildfires, have strict regulations in place regarding the design and location of your fire site, as well as limitations on what and when you can burn. Make sure you’re in compliance before you break ground to avoid a costly hassle later on.
  2. Consider the purpose and aesthetic effect you want your fire to have. A casual bonfire intended for late-night hot-dog roasts can be as simple as a woodpile ringed by stones in a cleared corner of the backyard. Alternately, a water fountain/fire pit combination centered on a paver-stone patio can create a dazzling display for a contemporary residence. But such a design may not be good for warmth.
  3. Safety first. The spits and pops of a wood-fueled fire, in particular, can send potentially dangerous sparks far beyond your fire ring, and windy conditions can carry burning embers into your surrounding woods. Establish a wide fireproof perimeter, made of bare earth, brick or stone, and keep a garden hose nearby in case of an accidental flare-up.
  4. Fires automatically draw people close, so plan ahead for seating for your guests. Adirondack chairs provide a relaxing option that users can move closer to or away from the fire, depending on their preference. Although plastic varieties will likely work fine for smaller fire pits that don’t radiate much heat, larger fires may warp the material, so choose a sturdier option if you’re planning on a bigger blaze.