Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are becoming more and more popular. They add visual interest to your landscaping and can make your yard feel more complete. They also provide a focal point around which you can gather with friends and family. And, most important, they can extend your outdoor entertaining season. There is no reason to end outdoor entertaining just because summer is over. You can extend the outdoor season well into fall and even winter with a warm fire feature. Here are some tips for enjoying your fire pit.
Always take dealing with fire seriously, even if it is contained in a fireplace. Here are some things to remember so that you and your family are safe around your fire feature.
- There are some things you should not burn. Having a fire pit or an outdoor fireplace may allow you to burn yard waste. Be careful, however, about what you burn. Most logs and sticks are safe, but poison ivy or oak could cause the toxins in these plants to become airborne. It can damage your lungs just like it damages your skin. Similarly, treated wood can also produce toxic fumes when burned. Be cautious when choosing kindling materials.
- Be careful where you place your fire feature. To be safe, make sure there is at least 10 feet between your fire pit and any other structure such as your house, a wooden fence, or a tree. Since a fireplace encloses a fire better than an open pit, you may be able to reduce that distance slightly.
- Have extinguishing materials on hand. Even if you take adequate precautions, something could go wrong. So it is important to be prepared to extinguish your fire at a moment’s notice. And you have to be able to put our your fire even if everything goes right. Always begin with the end in mind. Be prepared to extinguish your fire ahead of time. That way, you will not leave the fire unattended while you prepare to put it out.
Activities to Enjoy
An outdoor fire feature allows you to extend your outdoor entertaining season into cooler weather. Here are a few activities to try while you’re enjoying your fire pit in the fall and the winter.
- Roasting anything on an open fire. Pull out your long sticks and put something on the end of them: marshmallows, hot dogs, kabobs. Anything that tastes good roasted on an open flame is fair game. You can even put a grill over your fire pit and make hamburgers or steaks.
- Relaxing by the fire. Simply kicking back with a hot drink or a glass of wine and watching the flames can be very relaxing and therapeutic. It’s a good place to gather with friends and enjoy some laid-back conversation on a cool evening.
- Camping. Maybe you don’t have the time or the energy to gather supplies and pack the family into the car for a full-fledged camping trip. You can, however, set up your tent in the backyard. With a fire feature, you have a campfire all ready to go.
Like anything you want to enjoy for a long time to come, your outdoor fireplace or fire pit requires regular maintenance. Here are a few things you can do to keep it functioning all season long.
- Have good drainage. If you don’t have proper drainage, particulary with a fire pit, you may find yourself with a soup bowl after a rain storm. To prevent water from building up, make sure you have adequate drainage in and around your fire feature.
- Keep an eye out for cracks and breaks. Because your fireplace or fire pit is sustaining intense heat, the materials used to make it, even natural materials, can crack or break. Make sure to repair or replace broken pieces to keep your fire feature functioning properly and safely.
- Clear away branches and vegetation. Vegetation is a given when you’re outdoors. So be sure to keep dry vegetation and low-hanging tree branches far away from your fire feature. Both can present a fire hazard.
Just because the weather has grown cooler doesn’t mean that you have to hibernate inside. An outdoor fireplace or fire pit lets you enjoy the great outdoors well into the cooler months.