As with any design process, the first step should be to determine your goal by asking yourself why you want a fire pit? Are you looking for an outdoor extension of your home—a cozy, intimate environment to relax and drink wine—or a large gathering place for friends and family? Fire is a natural invitation to a gathering, so when you incorporate a fire pit into your landscape, it’s important to think about where you’ll put it and what you’ll surround it with.
Where To Put It
Seating and siting are extremely important to creating a space for your fire pit. Also keep in mind that while a fire pit has a practical function, it can also serve as a focal point which may be seen from inside your home. Give consideration as to which direction the prevailing wind will be coming from as a continual stiff breeze can direct heat or smoke uncomfortably onto your guests. Finally be sure to consult your local construction codes to see if there are rules about how close a fire feature can be to your home.
How Big Should It Be
The fire is always as big as the fire pit will allow. Keeping your fire pit small allows conversation over the fire and keeps the heat to a comfortable level. Larger fires can create more drama, however they will generate more heat which can widen the circle of seating further away. If your fire pit is going to serve as a focal point, consider having a custom design cut into the sides. This creates a beautiful look at night with the fire visible through the openings. Keep in mind that not all fire pits are round—square, rectangular or custom designed fire pits can be a welcome change to the traditional round fire pit.
Wood or Gas
Whether you choose to go with wood, natural gas or propane will depend somewhat on available resources. A gas fire element takes away the extra effort of dealing with wood and gives a calmer, more peaceful fire. However, you lose the drama, smell and impact a wood fire produces.
What Look Are You Going For
A more rustic look can be created by surrounding your fire pit area with flagstone. If you’re looking for a sleeker, contemporary style, you’re likely choosing a gas pit, which can be filled with different materials such as glass rocks or silica sand in place of artificial logs.