There’s no need to stop enjoying your outdoor entertaining area just because there’s a nip in the air. In cooler weather, your guests will enjoy the warmth and friendliness of standing or sitting around a fire pit. But first, here’s what you need to know.
Fire pits come in lots of shapes, sizes and materials. The original version – popular since prehistoric times – is literally a hole in the ground with a fire in it. Whilst this certainly has its rustic charm, there have been numerous improvements over the millennia, and although in-ground fire pits – lined with bricks, concrete or stones – are still a popular choice, the term ‘fire pit’ has also come to embrace the idea of above-ground models, made from a variety of materials, including metal and ceramic. So, which to choose?
The first thing to think about is whether there are any regulations in your area that would prevent your having an open fire. Check with your local council and/or body corporate, who will be able to advise on what is, and is not, allowed.
The next issue to consider is safety. You will need to position your pit away from the eaves of the house or verandah, at a suitable distance from doors, windows and fences, out of the reach of overhanging branches and other plants, and away from where the smoke might annoy neighbours. It should also be placed, or built, on a base of level, heat-resistant, non-combustible material, within reach of a garden hose and, if there are small children in the vicinity, it should possibly be screened.
If you have a large open garden, you might like to do a bit of DIY and dig and line your own pit. A simpler version is to build up a ring of bricks or concrete blocks on top of a stone, earth or other non-combustible surface.
Simpler still is to make a choice from the many attractive readymade fire pits, such as a steel fire bowl that sits in a cast stone base, making it look as though it is built in. For a more contemporary style, look for powder-coated black steel bowls or brazier-style baskets on legs or feet, or on polished concrete bases – many of which come with a removable screen. If a rustic or modern industrial look is more your style, you can also find steel bowls with a ‘pre-rusted’ surface.
Whatever you choose, remember you’re also going to need wood and fire implements. Oh, and lots of marshmallows!