Adding a fire feature to the yard

Published 11:21 am Wednesday, December 14, 2022

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Since our earliest recorded history, people have found it natural to gather around a fire.


A roaring fire draws people to it; a bonding with nature, if you will. Our ancestors built campfires outdoors, or on the dirt floors of their primitive homes. They did this for cooking and warmth, and for protection from dangerous wildlife. Today most homes are heated by electricity or gas, and cooking is the same. We use locks to keep beasts and intruders out. So fire is for a backup, and for the ambiance. Or for backyard entertainment.

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Perhaps a fire sounds nice to you. Let us explore some ideas and possibilities.


A firepit of some type is the most economical, and the most common way of adding the element of fire to a backyard. These range from some boulders arranged in a circle on the ground, fueled by firewood and logs (a campfire, basically), to metal and brick ones you’d purchase as a kit to assemble. Perhaps you might desire a lightweight one you could easily move around for various occasions.


A gas-fired fire pit or fireplace is certainly more convenient than one that requires you to start and tend a fire. Adding gas or electric obviously costs more to install, usually requiring a licensed tradesperson. Propane or natural gas are typically the options here, or an electric one with simulated flames.


Fireplaces are typically a special, top-shelf item on the menu for having fire in your backyard.

They can be rustic or modern in appearance. Fueled by logs, by gas, or by electric, they can offer options for cooking, heat, and a cozy place to hang out by. There are kits to buy and install, or there’s the option of hiring a stone or brick mason to construct one from scratch. 


Fire features may lead to needing a better patio, extra seating, a privacy screen, or other landscape features, depending on the needs of the family and the situation and the layout of your space.

Outdoor entertaining frequently goes along with a fire feature, but a backyard fire can be a private experience if that is preferred.


A chimenea may be a quick and economical substitute for the grandeur of a real fireplace.


Infrared electric stoves and fireplaces have come a long way in recent years, and some imitate real fire rather impressively. They may compare favorably to the wood-burning fireplace, and typically be safer and more convenient as well. They can be a quick option to have “fire” in the yard, too.


Still, there’s something about that flaming log or the glow of real embers as the wood burns up that can only come from burning some firewood. The smell of smoke from the wooden logs cannot be imitated by gas or electricity.


Finally, I suggest considering the real fire option in case there is a power outage. Having an option for food preparation and lighting if your electricity goes off can be a lifesaver.


The author is a landscaper. Your ideas and comments are invited. Call (606) 416-3911