Outdoor fireplace design done right
Adding fire to your backyard landscape creates intimacy and ambience and can be a practical way to increase the use of your outdoor living space in cooler weather. The best outdoor fire features tie into the surrounding landscape, whether that's taking advantage of a beautiful view or integrating the design with the architecture of the home.
One of the most important considerations is your local regulations. Some municipalities prohibit wood fires. Others require a permit. If a wood fire is permitted, there will be bylaws requiring setbacks from property lines and flammable structures to keep everyone safe and happy. Fortunately, even in areas where wood is a no-no, there are beautiful fireplaces and table-top models that run on natural gas, propane and even ethanol.
A fire feature should be located away from high traffic areas. Think about where you’d like to be when you’re enjoying the fire. A cozy grouping of cushioned seating? Your hot tub? This will impact the location of all of these elements in the landscape, and the design of the fire feature itself.
If you're adding more than one appliance to your gas or propane line—a barbecue, patio heater and fire table, for example—you may need to increase the line or tank's capacity. Avoid built-in or otherwise hard-to-move furniture with wood fires, since you'll want the flexibility to move further back or closer in depending on the size of the flames. Think creatively about the problems your fireplace can solve. For example, you can add an outdoor fireplace to the design of a retaining wall in a larger backyard design project to mask the wall’s utilitarian purpose.
An experienced landscape architect will make sure your outdoor fireplace design fits with the overall vision for your backyard, complements the natural and architectural features of the landscape and complies with all local regulations. Then get ready to cozy up around your beautiful fire feature for years to come.
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