Socialize safely with a backyard fire pit

 

Great for social distance gatherings on chilly fall afternoons and evenings, fire pits offer a gathering place for outdoor socializing while maintaining a safe distance from others. Fire pits are available in a variety of types and sizes for purchase or assembly. They can also be custom designed and professionally constructed to fulfill the specific desires of any homeowner. They can be as simple as stacking rocks or blocks to contain a small fire in the yard to elaborately designed fire pits built into a sunken patio or deck.

Before purchasing or building a fire pit, plan where the fire pit will be located on the property. Location can influence size and structural details. First make sure a fire pit is allowed in your neighborhood. Home improvement expert Bob Vila says, "Contact the planning offices in your area to see if any restrictions apply. Only proceed once you've gotten the necessary approvals or once you're convinced that none are required." Check with the town hall or fire marshal to learn the requirements in your town.

Another consideration when deciding on a location is the proximity of neighboring properties to the fire pit. According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), "Excessive smoke emitted into the atmosphere at ground level can be a nuisance to your neighbors, particularly in densely populated areas." When choosing a location for the fire pit make sure the wafting smoke won't be a nuisance to neighbors or potentially harmful to neighbors with asthma or other breathing problems. Also, make sure the location of the fire pit is away from buildings, fuel tanks and low hanging branches.

Basic backyard fire pit

A limited budget doesn't mean there are limits to having a good time socializing outdoors. If the backyard terrain is rocky, take advantage of the abundance of rocks by taking up a collection of rocks that can be stacked in a circle for a more natural campfire effect. Alternatively, a basic fire pit can be constructed with inexpensive retaining wall blocks found at a local home center. Bob Vila suggests, "Your fire pit will be just fine with retaining wall blocks, but once you're done building the pit, you may wish to insert a steel fire ring. Doing so will extend the life of your blocks by preventing them from drying out prematurely."

Portable fire pits

Portable fire pits are readily available for purchase and easily assembled. These fire pits don't require any yard preparation or block stacking like the basic backyard fire pit although they can be a little more expensive than a fire pit made from blocks. However, they are more versatile as the portability allows them to be taken on road trips and to campsites for family fun. The portability also allows them to be stored inside a shed or garage during bad weather and for the winter. Another benefit to owning a portable fire pit is a portable fire pit offers the versatility of being used in various spaces in the yard or on a porch to accommodate different situations. Erica Reitman writing for hgtv.com suggests, "Space the chairs around your fire pit in a circle to create a nice conversation space. This type of setup works well for smaller yards or even for larger yards that have a variety of separate designated hang-out areas."

Fire tables

As the name suggests, fire tables resemble a piece of furniture with a center fire pit. Whether coffee table size, end table size or picnic table size a fire table can add a warm luxurious touch to any backyard. Depending on the type purchased, fire tables can burn propane, natural gas, wood or charcoal. Some fire tables can be used for heat and cooking while others cannot, depending on the model and manufacturer. The surrounding table is designed in various shapes and materials such as concrete, wicker, steel and stone sold in a wide range of prices depending on size and material.

Sunken fire pit

Regardless of which building materials are used a sunken fire pit can be an elegant centerpiece of any backyard. Whether the fire pit is embedded into an elaborate stonework patio or built into the center of a wooden or vinyl deck, the fire pit will be a warm, inviting spot to host an autumn get-together. As mentioned earlier, check with the town hall for possible restrictions or required permits before investing time and money into a built-in fire pit. Being a more permanent structure, some town building codes or restrictions may suggest the help of a professional builder. If hiring a professional is not an option or not in the budget, sunken fire pits can also be constructed in the yard or garden away from the porch or patio.

Whether the fire pit is a simple campfire in the backyard, part of an elegant piece of outdoor furniture or a section of luxurious landscape architecture, a fire pit offers a warm backyard gathering spot for socially distanced fall fun.

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