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There are a variety of customization options when selecting a fire pit for your backyard oasis. You can match the design to the style of your backyard or make it a focal point with bold colors. From type to fuel to placement, picking the right fire pit design comes down to what will best enhance your space.

Follow the list below to uncover what design is right for you.

1. Choose The Type of Fire Pit You Want Installed

First and foremost, you need to select the type of fire pit you’ll be installing. This will determine the level of control you have over customization. There are three types of fire pits that come in at varying price points.

Built-In

Built-in fire pits give you the highest level of customization. With built-in fire pits, you are getting a professional design that is permanent. This is your best bet if you want a permanent structure created around your specific requests.

While it will generally be more expensive than prefabricated or portable alternatives, it is sturdier and unique to your home.

Prefabricated

Prefabricated fire pits are great for those who are looking for a generic option to be installed in their space. At the middle price point, your customization options are far more limited.

You’ll be selecting from a stock of already built fire pits so you may end up with the same fire pit as your neighbor.

Portable

This is undoubtedly the cheapest option of the three fire pit types. Generally, you will only find this type of fire pit made from metal. If you’re looking for a natural stone facing, this is not the best fit for your space.

The major benefit of portable fire pits is the ability to change placement around your yard. If you don’t want to commit to one spot just yet then a portable fire pit may be the best option for you.

2. Select How Your Fire Pit Will Be Fueled

The type of fuel used for your fire pit depends widely on preference and the type of pit you own. Certain pits, like portable fire pits, will not usually burn natural gas.

Wood Burning

Wood burning fire pits add an air of ambiance to your backyard. You get the smokey smell and crackling of burning wood.

The major detractor from wood burning fire pits is the upkeep required. In order to keep using the pit, you’ll have to regularly chop or purchase wood and store it in a dry place which can be off-putting for those who want a low-maintenance solution.

Gel Fueled

If you want to avoid the sound, smell, and smoke of a natural wood-burning fire pit you can opt for a gel fueled instead.

The downside to gel fueled fire pits are the availability of gel fuel and the lack of heat. It only puts out 3,000 BTUs making it insubstantial as a single heat source. You would need 40,000 BTUs to provide sufficient warmth for people sitting a few feet from the fire pit.

Gel fuel can be more difficult to obtain than other fuel alternatives. Plus, if you intend to use your fire pit as a heat source during the Winter months then gel fuel may not be the best solution.

Natural Gas

Natural gas line in ground in backyard

If you opt for a natural gas pit you will have to prepare for the permanence of a natural gas line installed in your backyard. This permanence comes with the benefit of never running out of fuel making it much easier to maintain than wood-burning fire pits.

With natural gas fire pits, you can easily start a fire that produces no smoke, ash, or soot.

Propane

Propane fueled fire pits will add ambiance to your backyard space without producing any smoke. It can also be used as a heat source with the ability to regulate the intensity of the heat from the fire.

If you plan to cook over your fire pit, propane may not be the optimal fuel source for your fire pit. Food cooked over a propane fire will not have as much flavor as that cooked over a wood-burning fire. Propane can also be a more pricey fuel option and one you should avoid if you’re looking for a cheap option.

3. Determine Size and Placement

Deciding on the placement of your new fire pit comes down to the size of the pit and the necessary requirements to maintain safety in your backyard.

If you plan to entertain larger groups of people it’s best to opt for a larger fire pit. This could range to up to six feet across. Three feet across is a good size for a more intimate layout.

Height should also be taken into account. Above-ground fire pits average at about 12 to 14 inches tall. This is a perfect height in relation to most lawn furniture.

Space Requirements

Make sure there are no plants or other flammable items near the fire pit in case of sparks. You should also check to ensure there is ample walking space and enough room to move chairs closer or further from the fire itself.

Try to plan for seven feet of space on all sides of the fire pit.

Permanent Seating

If you’re having permanent seating build around your fire pit consider the distance from the fire pit. Take into account that sitting too close can causing discomfort for some and sitting too far away will eliminate the heat benefits of having a fire pit. A good rule of thumb is to build your permanent seating no more than three feet from the fire pit.

4. Decide on Facing and Fill Materials That Match Your Backyard

Fill material is used to line the inside of your fire pit. It can prevent ground fires and offer a visually appealing drainage system. Whichever fill material you decide on, plan to use two to six inches of it. Facing material, like fill material, will need to be heat resistant.

Fill

You can’t fill your fire pit with just any material. Consider the heat durability of anything you plan to use within or around your fire pit. Common fill materials used for fire pits because of their heat durability include:

  • Lava rock
  • Aluminum
  • Cast Iron
  • Ceramic
  • Stainless Steel
  • Copper

Facing

The exterior of your fire pit is what’s visible to you and your guests. Take time to consider what material and styling will fit well with your backyard oasis.

This is where you have more creative freedom to design a fire pit you love. While it should still be functional, facing can be designed to match your furniture or the theming of your backyard. Some common materials used include:

  • Kiln-fired brick
  • Concrete
  • Stone

5. Pick Your Fire Pit’s Style

Square fire pit on rooftop
The style of your fire pit will be a determining factor in space requirements. Your expected use of the fire pit will also determine what style of fire pit you go with. For example, round fire pits tend to promote a campfire feel with guests sitting around a central point and conversing.

If you have a custom built-in fire pit your options are wide open, right down to the shape of the firepit itself. Homeowners can pick from four fire pit shapes:

  • Round
  • Rectangular
  • Square
  • Hearth

Traditional Fire Pit

Traditional fire pits come in all shapes and sizes, quite literally. This style of fire pit is usually circular and building materials will depend on the type you choose. These are built off the ground and surrounded by the fill and facing material of your choice.

Fire Table

Fire tables are designed to be a mix of fire feature and functional table. If you’re looked for added functionality in your backyard then this may be a good fit.

Generally, fire tables are made taller to accommodate seating and use of the table portion of the feature.

Simple Stone Fire Pit (Campfire)

natural stone firepit
Simple stone fire pits give a natural feel to a backyard. These are built directly into the ground and usually surrounded by a scattering of natural stones. This gives more exposure to open flame but will give the ambiance of camping.

Fire Bowl and Fire & Water Combination Features

Although not technically fire pits, these fire features are a unique alternative to traditional fire pits. If you don’t plan to use your fire pit as a central seating area, a fire and water combination feature could be a nice addition to your backyard space.

Alternatively, if you don’t like the traditional look of fire pits, fire bowls offer a similar setup with a slight variance in layout. These options are generally lower to the ground. This makes it less attractive for people with kids or pets that could be exposed to the more easily accessed flame.

Chiminea

Chiminea in backyard space
Chimineas are long-lasting and inexpensive fire features. They give a highly controlled burn and don’t expose guests to open flame. This may be a good option if you have small children.

Installing Your Fire Pit

Depending on the type of fire pit you end of deciding on, you have a few different installation options. If prefabricated or portable you have little work to do besides placing the new feature in your yard.

Built-in fire pits, on the other hand, can be constructed by you as a DIY project. But when DIY-ing a project like a fire pit, you run the risk of improper material usage or structuring which could potentially result in a fire hazard.

Landscaping professionals can help you design the best fire pit for your needs and also construct the fire pit in your selected location. This leaves you with only one task: enjoying your new fire pit.

Create the Fire Pit of Your Dreams

If you go with a prefabricated of portable fire pit your options will be vastly limited. But with a custom fire pit designed by landscaping professionals you can bring your vision to life.
A custom design allows you to pick the facing color and the design of the fire pit itself. Pick from different shapes and sizes to find the perfect fire feature for your dream backyard oasis.

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