A fire pit can add beauty, warmth, and light to your outdoor living area—enhancing the space in a way that you can enjoy it to the fullest. The ambience of the fire will make your outdoor meals, lounging, or entertainment even better.
That is, unless smoke is blowing in faces—or if the fire pit on the patio is taking up so much space that you can’t even move around it comfortably. When fire pit designs don’t take placement into account, a fire pit can detract from space more than it can add to it.
That’s why where you situate your fire pit is a critical detail that cannot be overlooked. The last thing that you want is to spend money on an annoying fire pit you never use.
There’s nothing like the ambience that a fire creates. Placing a fire feature in your yard doesn’t just create physical warmth. Historically, gathering around a fire is where community happens, and we believe that has never changed. An outdoor fireplace or fire pit provides a welcoming atmosphere that draws people together to share, converse and bond. If you love planning intimate evenings around the fire with your closest friends to jump-start spring, making s’ mores on a chilly fall evening with your spouse, or backyard camping adventures with your kids, having a place for a fire in your backyard gives you more options than ever for entertaining and relaxing, no matter the season.
Questions to Ask Before You Build a Fire Pit
Like any aspect of an outdoor living area, time should be taken in the design process to make some key decisions. For a fire pit, one of those decisions should be about the ideal placement.
For one, you might be wondering whether you should build a fire pit on a patio or have an entire fire pit area in the backyard.
There are some questions that you can ask during the design process to start narrowing down your choices. Here are the questions we believe you and your landscape designer should be asking as you come up with the best fire pit design ideas for your property.
Have you had a fire pit before, and how did you use it?
Right out of the gate, an important question that a landscape designer can ask is whether you’ve had a fire pit before. When homeowners had a fire pit on another property then they already really know their likes and dislikes about it. That can go a long way in dictating a new fire pit design—one that is even better and solves concerns that you had, or that replicates what you loved most.
Of course, many homeowners building an outdoor living area are considering a fire pit for the first time, and they don’t know what they like (or might dislike) about one. If you’re someone who is on the fence about whether or not a fire pit is right for you, you might want to consider buying an inexpensive portable fire pit to use and see how you like it temporarily. This can help you make important decisions—including where on your property, a fire pit might be best situated—before you build a fire pit that is permanent.
From which direction does the wind primarily come on this property?
A critical question that your landscape designer should ask before they build a fire pit is, “Which way does the wind blow in relation to the desired fire pit area?” This is essential information for all fire pit designs because it will help determine where the smoke will blow during times of year you’re likely to be spending time outside.
On some properties, wind patterns blow in more than one direction over time which sometimes is affected by other existing structures, topography, vegetation, etc. If these factors apply to your property, a wood-burning fire pit may not be the best answer if it means smoke is always blowing around.
This may lead you to consider an outdoor fireplace, where smoke will be directed up through a chimney, and flame protection on three sides from surrounding winds is provided.
Do you want a wood-burning or gas-powered fire pit?
Are you envisioning a campfire-style fire pit that burns real wood? A lot of homeowners say that nothing beats the smell, sound, and look of real wood.
However, there’s a benefit to being able to turn your fire pit on and off with the push of a button when it’s gas. If you prefer quick ambience without the messy tendencies of managing a wood fire, this is something to discuss with your landscape designer.
Of course, gas versus wood is also an important factor in terms of where you build. When building a gas-powered fire feature, there are gas lines to be run, so access is an issue. With both gas or wood, local codes also need to be taken into account in terms of how close to your home, you can add a fire feature. There is a required distance that must be adhered to.
How many people do you envision at your fire pit?
Is this a fire pit for you and your spouse to enjoy a glass of wine at on the weekends or are you picturing having a roaring bonfire with several other families?
How many people you think will regularly be gathering around your fire pit will help dictate its size and therefore its ideal placement.
Do you want a seat wall?
If you’re envisioning a wall built around your fire pit where you and your guests can sit, then you’ll, of course, need to make sure you have enough room to incorporate something like that on your patio.
If you can’t, or it’s going to take up the entire space, then you may consider adding on to your patio with a separate fire pit area—or even adding it somewhere else on your property. Perhaps creating a more remote and intimate space is just what may complete your perfect backyard.
Do you want a square or round fire pit?
The shape of your fire pit will also be important in determining its ideal placement. You’ll have to think about what you like in terms of style but also what will fit best in the space that you have.
A circular fire pit has more of a traditional, campfire feel to it and beckons people to gather around it. But a square design has a different sort of appeal—one that is a bit more modern and might fit on a patio where you don’t envision having big bonfires, but maybe a more cozy and intimate gathering.
Regardless of your preference, always remember to account for any furniture that you might want to incorporate once your fire pit is in place and that you have ample room for it.
Designing with Bricks
Bricks are another popular for outdoor fireplaces. They create a rustic feel, and the rich colour of that material creates an interesting contrast with the green of the vegetation.
If you want an outdoor fireplace with brick, there are different ways of incorporating that material in your patio and garden to create a landscape that feels consistent.
You can also pair bricks with tiles that have a similar colour or use wood furniture and accents with a rich brown colour that will complement the red colour of the bricks.
Look for lighter accent pieces that will complement the bricks. You can add furniture and décor items with a cream colour for a soft touch, or opt for colours like yellow or light green for a modern result. Colours like brown and grey will bring out the earthy tones of the bricks but could darken your patio if you overuse them.
Keep these colours in mind when designing your garden. Think about planting yellow flowers near your brick fireplace, and don’t hesitate to use soil or mulch as a design element that will match the colour of the bricks.
Here are some ideas for designing with bricks:
- You can create an original transition between your home and patio, or between your patio and garden with some brick steps.
- You can use bricks or tiles with a similar colour for your patio floor.
- Make the fireplace the focal point of an outdoor kitchen built with bricks.
- Build a low wall with bricks to create a separation between your patio and garden.
- You can build a bench with some bricks, and upgrade it with some comfortable cushions.
A freestanding fireplace is a convenient option if you have a small patio. It’s a versatile design choice since you can pick the location of your fireplace and design a space around it.
You can choose to have the fireplace built away from your home to create a secluded patio. That design choice gives you the possibility of creating a patio with a clear separation from the inside of your home, which means you can design it without taking the décor and theme of your home into consideration.
You can pick a spot that is further into your garden and choose to incorporate natural elements into your patio area. Garden fireplace ideas include clearing a space in the middle of your garden and connecting it to other areas with stone paths or blending your patio with your garden by adding some planters around your fireplace.
You can emphasize the natural feel of your outdoor space by adding some flower beds around your fireplace. Planters with shrubs and small trees are another option to explore, but keep in mind that plants should be a few feet away from the fireplace for safety reasons.
You can place some comfortable chairs around your freestanding fireplace to create a place you can use for entertaining guests or opt for a bench or couch to create a space that feels more romantic.
Designing a Rustic Outdoor Living Space with a Fireplace
Choosing a rustic theme for your fireplace landscape design is an excellent option because a stone or brick fireplace will instantly help create the rustic feel you are looking for. It’s a style that will help you create a cozy and inviting outdoor space.
You can use wood, stone, or tiles for your patio floor. We recommend using wood furniture because it’s versatile and durable. You can incorporate additional wood accents in your designs, like wood railings, or a pergola supported by wood columns if you want something more original.
Choose wood that looks natural. Look for furniture with a rough finish and with the natural colour of the wood still visible. Polished or varnished wood will take away from the rustic feel.
You should make nature an important part of your design. You can add some planters to your patio, choose some décor items with a nature theme, or look for green décor items.
Remember that rustic design is about comfort. Prioritize making your patio into space where you will enjoy relaxing and socializing. Think about items that will make that space feel cozy and complement the warmth from your fireplaces, such as lights and cushions.
Create a Modern Outdoor Space
The right fireplace can add a touch of modernity and style to your outdoor space. A modern outdoor fireplace can mix traditional materials like stones and bricks with an original shape. You can, for instance, find horizontal fireplaces that emphasize geometrical shapes.
You can also find original materials like polished stones and reflective surfaces. A darker material is a great option if you want a fireplace that will create a modern look for your patio.
There are different options to explore if you want a modern fireplace. You can opt for a built-in fireplace with an unusual shape and build a cozy nook around it with minimalist furniture.
One of the best outdoor fireplace ideas on a budget is to build a small freestanding fireplace and add some minimalist furniture around it.
You should also consider a fire-table. A fire table is an original accent piece that will instantly create a modern look for your outdoor space. You can use it as a central element to design a modern outdoor dining area.
You can design around your modern fireplace by playing with empty spaces, lines, and geometrical shapes. We recommend adopting a minimalist approach if you want an outdoor space that feels modern.
Here are some fireplace landscape design ideas to explore if you want a modern result:
- Opt for furniture with darker colours and simple lines.
- You can add a few colourful pieces of furniture as accent pieces.
- Look for décor elements like wall art, lamps, sculptures, or planters with an abstract theme.
- Look for an original way of incorporating nature into your outdoor space, for instance, with hanging planters or some flower beds that run through your patio.
- Exotic plants are an original way of sprucing up your modern patio.
- Building your patio around a bar with a reflective countertop can feel very modern and original.
- A multi-level patio can have a modern feel if you emphasize geometric lines and space.
Even though modern design uses minimalist lines and geometric shapes, keep in mind that comfort is important for your outdoor space. Your fireplace will provide you with light and warmth, but don’t hesitate to add elements like colourful cushions to make that space feel more comfortable.
Stones and Rocks
Stones are a popular material for built-in fireplaces and freestanding designs. Beige or grey stones help create a rustic look and require little maintenance.
If you want to have a stone fireplace installed, you can design your patio and garden around that material. Stones and rocks can become recurring motifs in your landscape design.
Look for stones and rocks that are similar to the ones used for your fireplace. Working with similar colours will help establish a motif, and you can add some diversity by playing with different shapes and sizes.
That approach will help your fireplace blend in with the rest of your outdoor space. If you want your fireplace to become a statement piece, limit your use of rocks and stones to a few accents and prioritize using wood to create a more noticeable contrast with the fireplace.
Here are different ways of using stones and rocks to create a pattern in your landscape design:
- You can use stones for your patio floor.
- You can carve a sitting nook out of stone.
- You can incorporate stones into your patio with a limestone countertop, or choose a dining table with a stone surface.
- Stone paths are a subtle way of adding stones throughout your landscape. You can create a natural connection between the fireplace or patio and the rest of your garden by using a stone path or some stone stairs.
- Replace mulch with small stones if you have any flower beds near the fireplace.
- You can create a container garden with some rocks. It’s something you can build near the fireplace.
- If you want an original landscape, think about creating a rock garden.
- If you have a large garden, you can add a boulder as a focal point.
- You can use rocks to create a pond border if there is water in your landscape.
Using stone and rocks for your outdoor fireplace landscape design will instantly create a natural look. You can complete that look with wood furniture, and emphasize the natural aspect of your design by incorporating plants into the space that surrounds your fireplace.
Maintaining Your Landscape
- Prune all trees so that the lowest limbs are 6 to 10 feet off the ground.
- Remove dead branches and debris in trees and shrubs and around all plantings.
- Remove dead and dying plants.
- Use a fire-resistant mulch material or gravel in planting beds to help retain the moisture in the soil.
- Keep your irrigation system well-maintained.
- Familiarize yourself with local fire-safe regulations and recommendations regarding vegetation clearances.
- In low- or no-summer rain regions, be sure to keep plants irrigated. For native trees and shrubs that are not on a scheduled irrigation cycle, deep irrigate at least once per month, or as needed.
Other Firewise Maintenance Practices. The roof is one of the most vulnerable structures of a home during a wildfire. Fire-retardant roofing materials are of prime importance for protection and fire prevention.
- Keep tree limbs at least 10 feet from rooftops, chimneys, power lines and other structures.
- Keep leaves and other debris off of roofs and eaves.
- Keep your home’s gutters free of leaves and needles, as they can easily ignite.
In the event of a fire, you can reduce how quickly the fire spreads and increase the survival of your home, your landscape and your family. There is a wealth of valuable information available through countless fire-safe organizations worldwide to further guide you.
Space, Size and Style: The Right Fire Element For Your Unique Landscape
Often, neighbourhoods and communities have ordinances or regulations regarding outdoor fire features. We can help you find out what regulations exist where you live so that you can select the right fire element for your yard. For example, generally, fire pits require larger property because they typically must be set back somewhere between 20 to 30 feet from home. In contrast, an outdoor fireplace can be right up against the home since the fire is contained, and a chimney directs the heat and smoke away. Whatever the size of your available space, we can design the perfect outdoor fire element for you.
We want to make sure you get what you want. Depending on your budget and the style you’re looking for, we can show a number of options for your new fire element. Whether you’d like to choose from our selection of pre-manufactured fire pits, fireplaces or fire tables, or you’ve got a specific idea in mind and want us to custom design your fire element, we can help.
All our custom fire features are created from carefully selected natural stone, which we cut to the specifics of the design. Custom-crafted stonework is becoming a lost art, but we are proud to preserve it with pieces such as our outdoor fireplaces and fire pits. You can head over to our section on custom stone and rock work to read more about our process.