The sun is setting earlier and the weather is getting cooler, forcing unwanted limitations on our outdoor time. But who’s to say we should let the change of seasons chase us inside? Outdoor fire features provide heat and light to extend your time outside, allowing you to laugh in the face of Mother Nature.
The benefits of outdoor heating elements are obvious. Not only will you be able to enjoy the outdoors longer, your living space will increase. Hardscaping will always increase your home value, but adding entertainment space is often looked at as increasing square footage.
Beyond just entertaining space, outdoor fire features add an immediate focal point. Whether it’s in use or not, a beautiful hardscape element will always draw the eyes of your guests. And imagine the cooking possibilities! From roasting marshmallows to cooking a pizza, your fire feature will be functional as well as beautiful.
Outdoor Fireplace or Fire Pit
So now that you’re sold on outdoor fire features, how do you choose between a fireplace and fire pit? The good news is you can’t go wrong either way, but there are several things to consider when deciding.
- Design Intent
Though similar in many ways, fireplaces and fire pits have very different styles. Your guests will be enamored by the size and impact of your impressive fireplace. A fire pit, while still striking, is definitely more understated.
If you have small children or pets, safety is definitely going to be a top concern. A fire pit poses more risk to kids and four-legged friends because of its low profile and accessibility. It doesn’t have to be ruled out entirely, but more stringent supervision will be required. With a fireplace, a grate or screen can be placed in front of the fire to keep out children’s hands and pets’ noses.
- Available Space
Fireplaces are obviously larger than fire pits. They take up a lot of vertical space and can make smaller yards feel more cramped than cozy. A fire pit however may need more space than most realize. Not only should there be plenty of room for seating, a wide open area is necessary to allow for flyaway sparks and ash.
Pros and Cons
“As with any choice, there are pros and cons to each feature,” states Matt Sabine, president and CEO of Absolute Landscape & Turf, Inc. “But each feature provides its own unique benefits.”
- Your guests can enjoy the warmth of the fire without worrying about wind direction
- The large structure can provide privacy from neighbors
- A fireplace naturally creates the effect of an outdoor living room, making guests feel comfy and cozy
- Even when not in use, a fireplace is a stunning sculpture, acting as a natural focal point in your backyard design
- Typically more expensive than fire pits
- Because of the size, building permits may be required
- Can block the view of your backyard or vista
- Don’t receive as much heat as a fire pit
- Lower price
- Space for more guests, and easier to incorporate into a patio
- The low profile will allow for more view of your backyard or vista
- The spaciousness makes a fire pit more conversational than cozy
If this still doesn’t narrow it down for you, think about what kind of feeling you want your outdoor space to evoke. An impressive fireplace will enchant family and friends, leaving them with a feeling of coziness and luxury they won’t soon forget. A fire pit will always remind guests of a campfire, and immediately invoke a casual vibe that encourages conversation, storytelling and laughter.
How We Can Help
With a choice this big, it’s always better to elicit the help of experts. It’s important to work with a professional that can help you decide the best size and option for the scale of your yard and your entertainment needs. There are many choices beyond just which feature to choose – location, design, style, color and material will all have to be decided. Our hardscape experts at Absolute Landscape & Turf, Inc. can guide you through every selection, creating a custom fire element that matches your existing style and design. Click here for your free estimate.