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Warm up cool-weather gatherings with a firepit or fireplace

Written by Emily Vogler

September 14, 2020

 

Fall is coming, and we can expect chilly nights soon. But wouldn’t it be great if you could still gather with family and friends out on the patio for a relaxing evening outdoors? Consider the warmth and congeniality a firepit on your patio or an outdoor fireplace can provide.

“Especially during this time of the pandemic, it’s a good way to get outside without going anywhere,” says Gardens of Babylon landscape architect Ryan Fogarty. While most of us no longer need open fires for cooking (except, possibly, for making s’mores), time with friends around a fire can warm the air and the heart.

As the weather cools, a crackling fire on the patio can extend the time you can be outdoors. “It’s a great way to enjoy being out in the yard,” Fogarty says. “It’s like a little retreat.”

Stylish additions

For outdoor entertaining, family gatherings, casual dinners on the patio, a firepit can be the element that brings people together. In an outdoor room, a fireplace can make the space comfortable even when the weather is cold.

“We have definitely seen an uptick this year with people requesting a firepit built into design plans,” Fogarty says. “It’s a cool experience in nature. Like going camping without going camping.”

Style choices run the gamut, from rustic stacked stones to designs that are sleek and modern, or anything in between. 

Design and build

A typical firepit for Gardens of Babylon clients may be circular or square, usually 18 inches tall or a little taller. The width depends on the scale of the design, but it’s typically 36 or 42 inches wide or wider, Fogarty says. It may be built of wall block veneer and capstones, but can be any suitable material that may reflect the style of the landscape and the homeowner.

“If it’s in a patio, we build the patio around it,” Fogarty says. In a wood-burning firepit, the logs sit atop fire bricks flush with the ground. Gas firepits are also available. The gas company taps into the home’s gas line and attaches a fireplace insert, and the building crew builds a wall block or other veneer around the insert to hide it, Fogarty explains. 

Questions to ask:

Here are some questions to consider when you include a firepit or fireplace in your landscape design:

  • How and when you will use it? It is for entertaining large groups or small gatherings? Maybe it’s just for the two of you.
  • Do you want wood-burning or gas-fired?
  • How large should it be? Is a small firepit big enough? Is a massive fireplace too large?
  • What is your style: rustic? Sleek and modern? Something in between?
  • What type of seating will be placed around or nearby?
  • If a firepit is to be installed in a patio, is there enough space to accommodate it?
  • Should the firepit design include an additional wall for seating? “A firepit with a seat wall takes a lot of space,” Fogarty says. Maybe you’d rather have it out in your yard.”

A fireplace has an extra set of considerations. “The majority of fireplaces we have worked on have been a kit, and we veneer it with a brick or other natural veneer that the homeowner wants, Fogarty says. “A fireplace also requires a chimney flue and the insert, which comes with the kit.”

“For homeowners with kids it’s good for getting outside and sitting around,” she adds. And those marshmallows melting over the firepit for s’mores are something even the kids will enjoy.

 

To discuss ways to include a firepit or fireplace in your landscape design plans, book a consultation with a Gardens of Babylon landscape design team professional here.

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