You might think you would need a large backyard to have a patio fire pit or fireplace fitted into your landscape plan, but fire features can be designed to fit almost any size area.
Depending on how much yard area is available, options range from stone fireplaces that are monumental in scale to fireboxes (a hybrid fireplace/fire pit), to simple campfire style fire pits.
There is no doubt that outdoor fireplaces and fire pits may add significantly to your landscaping budget. But many of our clients tell us that, whether they use theirs a lot or a little, having one adds considerably to their enjoyment of their backyard. They love the feeling of cozying up to that patio fireplace on a chilly evening outdoors. Some say they enjoy just looking at it as an architectural element in the landscape.
In this article, we are going to focus on one patio fireplace project to dig a little deeper into what motivated the homeowners to invest in it, how often they use it and what it means to them. Then we’ll finish by walking you through a few different options fireplace/fire pit configuration beginning with a stunningly simple patio fire pit.
Create a Gathering Place in Your Backyard
Marc and Alexandra had thought of adding a porch off the back of their house as a way to make use of the long, flat backyard that they had not been using since they’d moved in. A landscape architect suggested they build a covered structure detached from the house. It would give them a reason to go out into the yard, a private space where they could relax together and enjoy being outdoors.
Marc and Alexandra loved the idea and right away had thoughts about how they would furnish the space with two couches facing each other. The idea of an outdoor fireplace naturally evolved out of that conversation.
Regarding the look and style of the fireplace pavilion, they were open to suggestions from the architect and eventually settled on a concept that hinted at Craftsman style with stout columns, exposed rafter tails, and decorative corner brackets. The interior style is more rustic with a natural beadboard ceiling, exposed rafters, and a rough-hewn timber mantle spanning the stone fireplace.
I grew up camping and having outdoor fires. I don’t consciously think about that, but it might be one of the reasons I like having the fireplace.
The first time they lit a fire in the pavilion, they brought chairs from indoors because they hadn’t furnished it yet—and couldn’t wait to try it out. They roasted marshmallows and made s’mores with visiting relatives. They don’t have fires now as often as they thought they would, but they still spend a lot of time relaxing in the pavilion. And Marc says that it is a joy to look out the kitchen window at it: “It doesn’t matter what angle you see it from or whether it’s day or night—I love looking at our backyard.”
Most of our guests or friends, when they come over, say that they would stay out here all day.
Patio Fire Pit for a Small Backyard
This patio fire pit is a great example of what can be done in a backyard when there is barely 24-feet from the house to the back lot line. A fire pit by definition allows for seating all around. This hybrid fire pit is built against a retaining wall. So, the seating arrangement is the same as you would have with a fireplace. It works visually because lush landscaping is built up behind it obscures the nearness of the lot line.
Open Air Patio Fireplace
When there is more space available in a yard, you can introduce landscape elements that make a big statement. This massive open-air fireplace anchors one end of a large raised poolside patio. This may seem counterintuitive, but its height and size help bring a sense of intimacy to a large open area of the yard. As the chimney reaches upward, your eye settles upon the hearth nestled in the massive base of the structure. From a distance the fireplace is impressive, imposing. When you are sitting on the patio, the effect is grounding.
Adding a patio fireplace or fire pit to your backyard requires a site evaluation and landscaping design plan. With planning and the guidance of a talented landscape architect, you can plan the perfect outdoor fireplace for your backyard. You’ll be able to see where that fireplace fits into the whole picture. If you’ve been wondering about how to explore the potential of your backyard, please contact one of our landscape architects to schedule a phone consultation.
If you’ve been thinking about investing in a landscape design project, our eBook: Expert Guide to Planning the Landscape Design of Your Dreams, is full of valuable information to help you get started.