The central location in the backyard for gathering with family and friends is the fire pit. The fire pit is the meeting place for an afternoon barbeque, late-night drinks and gooey s’mores. Or even a morning after camping out with the kids in the backyard. It’s an escape right outside your door.
This hot commodity is an addition many people think is crucial to have in any yard. It will jazz it up and bring that cozy feel to your outdoor space. So, how easy is it to build a fire pit, and what should you know before you start? Well, we have the tips and insight to any fire pit installation here, and for help landscaping in a proper backyard hearth, contact Landscape 360.
Regulations, Safety & Local Codes
In Calgary, Fire pits are not uncommon in most backyards. However, backyard fire pits, outdoor fireplaces and fire features must meet the Calgary Community Standards Bylaw for the safety of you and your community.
These bylaws not only are enforced but provide suggestions and good housekeeping tips as well. It includes information on fire pit rules, like wood-burning regulations and fire pit proximity when choosing a location. Familiarizing yourself with the local rules for your new fire pit installation or purchase could save you from being fined. You wouldn’t want an infraction from the city or an accident to occur because you weren’t following protocol.
Things To Consider
It also mentions remembering to consider your neighbours when setting up a fire pit. You don’t want the smoke to blow into their yard and cause problems for them. Be sure to keep this in mind when starting your build.
If you are hesitant to install a fire pit yourself, calling a professional landscaping service with pristine stonework skills and experience might be a safer and the least nerve-wracking option for you.
Picking An Optimal Fire Pit Location
When picking the perfect orientation and location for your fire pit, there is a lot to take into consideration. You will want to locate the pit at least 10-20 feet away from your home or other flammable structures such as a shed or gazebo.
It should also be on a level, non-flammable surface if your pit or fire feature isn’t built into the ground. A stone slab or a concrete pad works well if you decide to keep your fire pit on the deck.
Remember to avoid any overhanging trees or shrubs and ensure there is good airflow with a clearance of at least 10ft.
Be Weary Of The Wind
An important question you’ll want to answer concerning your fire pits location is, which way the wind typically blows? If you pick the wrong spot, wind can have the power to ruin your yard, home and more. Knowing this will help you plan a site that doesn’t get smoke blown into your home, your neighbour’s house or into everyone’s faces.
Next is finding out if you have a particularly windy area in your yard? If so, it’s best to install your fire pit somewhere else and out of the wind’s direction. You’ll also want to ensure that there is nothing close by that could be affected by the wind’s direction. Overhanging trees, shrubs or a pergola could easily catch fire from a spark.
If you choose to get a professional landscaper in and they notice a big problem area where the wind could affect your fire pit, they will probably suggest installing windscreens to alleviate the wind gusts.
Pit Size & Design
When building a fire pit, you need to account for height, circumference and the overall size of the design of the pit.
Height & Circumference
Though you may want a large fire pit that will gather the whole family around, building one a bit smaller will ensure your bonfires don’t get too big and out of control. A fire pit should preferably measure 36-44 inches wide. This way, there’s room for everyone to get warm without causing issues.
It is also crucial to build your fire pit with a retaining wall. It needs a height of 1-2ft max to ensure the flames remain tame during your outdoor gatherings. But, it will keep the logs from rolling out. It is also safer for children because they won’t have to lean right into the flames to get their marshmallows nice and toasty when they go to roast.
Pit Size & Design
When installing a fire pit in your yard, think about the design option you’d like when picking a style and how it will fit into your yard or the atmosphere you’d like to create for your yard.
You could choose a traditional build with a rock wall barrier. Go with a classy gas fire table. Or perhaps a portable pit laid out on a new concrete patio or stonework landscaping. The options are endless, and the fire pit inspiration behind your next outdoor renovation can really create an environment that fits your aesthetic and yard.
If you plan out your landscaping around your firepit feature, you can have the oasis you always dreamed of. For those expert DIYers, this task may be easy. But for those who need a little help or are thinking of going more extravagant, Landscape 360 can help. We’ll create the backyard you’ve always dreamed of with a fire pit as your focal point and central gathering spot.
If you select the traditional route when building a fire pit, be sure to use materials suited for high temperatures. Not all stones are appropriate for high heats. If subjected to such temperatures, they could crack and splinter, or even certain concrete blocks could explode when overheated.
Note that if you use bricks, stones, or rocks, include a stainless-steel barrier between the retaining wall and the fire. It could save you from a disaster occurring.
The options for building a traditional pit are the DIY block kits for an easy at-home build. Or you could hire a landscaper to create a backyard oasis featuring custom masonry for a unique look tailored to your style.
If you decide upon a fire table or portable fire pit, make sure you have laid out an area with a concrete slab, patio stones, or a deck protector big enough for the pit to sit on. As mentioned earlier, a flat surface off the ground or deck will keep your yard safer, so use a buffer.
The styles for portable and table fire pits are endless. You can choose between metal or concrete prefab bowls, a fire table, or a globe/cage-style fire pit to create that look for your yard you’d always dreamed of.
Choose Your Heat Source: Gas Or Wood?
The biggest difference between wood-burning and gas fire pits is the cost. Everything else comes down to preference. Though gas fire pits are more expensive, there are many things to consider when choosing between the two.
Gas Fire Pit Installation
A gas fire pit installation requires a professional, but it provides a different ambiance, less overall maintenance and less hazard. A gas fire pit also gives off no sound or smoke, giving it a less natural fire effect. However, it is nice to know no smoke will get into your eyes like a traditional wood-burning fire pit can produce.
Wood Burning Pits
Wood burning pits do have perks too, they are natural, don’t require a gas hook up, and have that realistic fire crackle we all think about when we plan a bonfire. It does require more maintenance. There’s a constant need to stoke the fire to keep it burning and ash cleanup afterwards. The embers are also a fire hazard but easy to control if you are diligent.
Invest In Safety Gear
If you’re getting a fire pit installation in your yard, be sure to do it responsibly. Ensure you buy a fire extinguisher for outside in case flames begin to get unruly. Keep a hose with a nozzle close by for a quick way to put out any sparks. Or use sand to put out the fire if you prefer that method. Fire blankets are also necessary if a nearby object or person catches fire, they can smother the flames almost instantly.
Our team knows landscaping, and we can create a yard that will utilize your outdoor space as living space, and you’ll never want to go inside. From custom stonework, retaining walls, woodwork, lighting and more, we can build you an outdoor retreat to highlight your new fire pit installation so you can enjoy the yard without doing all the hard work.