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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Doug is a hardcore barbeque enthusiast and connoisseur. While he spends most of his time on editing and research, he sometimes moonlights as a product tester for particularly interesting things he comes across.
Summer is the time to soak in Vitamin D with good friends around the campfire, and this year, you don’t need to go camping to have a fire pit. Building one in your backyard is easier than you might imagine, and it doesn’t have to break the bank either.
You can use countless materials to construct your fire pit in a shape that will suit your yard perfectly. Don’t limit yourself to classic styles before seeing what other options might elevate your yard’s design scheme and provide you with a safe, contained backyard fire pit for entertaining.
Building a Backyard Fire Pit Safely
Before you can begin building your backyard fire pit, there’s a few things to take into consideration. First and foremost, you need to figure out if you have a large enough backyard to safely host a fire pit.
An open air fire pit should be a minimum of 10 feet away from your house or any structure that could catch fire. If you don’t have a big enough space to meet this requirement, you’ll have to look at landscaping alternatives and decorating your yard. Always check your municipal codes to see what the specific laws are regarding residential fire pits in your area.
Backyard Fire Pit Ideas
Before you fall into the classic hole in the ground lined with garden stones trope, take time to look at possible unique options for creating the ideal backyard fire pit. There are tons of backyard fire pit ideas you can incorporate into your landscaping design to create a cozy outdoor living space that friends will love.
1. Fire Trough
If you have a large outdoor seating space, consider a fire trough rather than a traditional fire pit. This raised stone rectangle will feature a strip of coals down the center where the flames will dance and warm your guests.
You can purchase these trough-style fire pits as wood burning or for propane gas if you want to avoid the hassle of stoking the fire while entertaining.
2. Pewter Fire Bowl
The ultra-modern fire bowl look is perfect for a suburban backyard that requires a propane gas fire pit. You can set this unit on your patio in the middle of a seating area for a chic yet cozy centerpiece.
3. Brick Fire Pit
You can create a classy round fire pit with a brick interior and veneer house brick on the exterior. This creates a more polished aesthetic than a traditional stick and stone fire pit. You can finish off the top of the fireplace with a large lip of heat-resistant stone to create a ledge where guests can place their drinks.
4. Table Top Natural Gas Fire Pit
For condo dwellers, a tabletop solution means you don’t have to give up the dream of a warm, entertaining spot, even if you’re limited to a balcony or small yard space. With a tabletop natural gas fire pit, you can enjoy a classy tray-style piece that emits a small set of flames to light up your evening gatherings.
5. Wood Burning Fire Table
This modern take on a classic campfire comes in many forms, but they all have the same advantage. With a wood burning fire table, you’ll have a small raised campfire contained in a pit to sit around, with a table lining the edge. The design makes it possible to rest your drinks around the perimeter and chat with guests while enjoying the warmth on a cool summer’s eve.
6.Classic Adirondack Look Around Setup
The aesthetic you create around your fire pit is what makes the backyard pop, and when you opt for a traditional style campfire with real branches and stones, Adirondack chairs surrounding the fire pit complete the rustic look.
7. Propane Gas Fire Urn
A propane gas fire urn is a trendy addition to an urban or suburban patio that brings the warmth and added light of a campfire without the woodsy finishings. These tall, elegant pieces can be positioned next to your patio furniture, acting as a light source, or you can center your seating around it.
Which Fuel Source Should I Choose?
When you’re figuring out which backyard fire pit ideas to implement, you’ll also have to consider what fuel source is most ideal for your setting. Some people love the traditional premise of a wood burning fire pit, while others prefer the more modern approach of a propane gas outdoor fire.
Wood burning fires give you the classic campfire experience. You need to have kindling on hand, set up the fire, light it properly, and then keep it burning throughout the night by adding wood or stoking it accordingly. Overall, a wood burning fire pit is going to be more affordable, provide the desired smell and aesthetic that everyone associates with a campfire, and it’s likely going to be easier to install.
With those benefits in mind, you must also consider that a wood burning fire pit is considered more of a fire hazard, it cannot be within a certain distance of a residential building, and it’s often more challenging to light. Wood burning is also not clean, producing carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change.
With a propane gas fire, you eliminate the hassle of chopping and preparing firewood for burning. If you have a small residential backyard, a propane gas fire pit may be your only option depending on your area’s open air burning regulations. Propane gas fires are typically considered more controlled than a wood burning fire, and therefore safer because you can simply power the flame off, much like you would with a propane barbecue.
Propane gas fire pits are easier to light, offer more flame control, and burn clean so you can use them as often as you want without worrying about your carbon footprint. On the flip side, propane gas fire pits are often significantly more expensive than a wood burning fire, and they require a more extensive installation process. A natural gas line also presents its unique hazards.
The Best Backyard Fire Pit for You
There are countless options for your backyard fire pit, ensuring you’ll be able to get the perfect fit for your yard’s design aesthetic. Don’t be afraid to stray from the traditional stick and stone Adirondack campfire in favor of something more contemporary, especially if you live in a suburb.
If you’re forced to choose propane gas for your fire pit because of wood burning restrictions where you live, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the traditional cottage campfire vibe either. Many of these propane fire pits come in rustic stone finishes, so you can still bring the classic campfire nostalgia to your backyard gatherings.