Best Fire Pit Solutions

Looking for the best outdoor fire pit for your yard? Check out these problem-solving fire pit ideas.

Fire Pit Surrounded by Chairs and Flowering Plants

Fire Pit Surrounded by Chairs and Flowering Plants

A blazing fire surrounded by flowering plants creates an inviting atmosphere. Design by Robert Hursthouse.

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Discover simple design ideas for creating the best fire pit for your yard. To select a fire pit, you’ll have to wade through a series of choices. Do you want one that’s portable and small, or do you prefer a destination-style fire pit that’s a permanent part of the landscape?

Do you have skills to build your fire pit, or will you need to hire a contractor? Do you prefer a rustic fire pit with stone or pavers, or do you want a more modern look, with metal and gas-fired flames? Answering each of these questions helps to narrow the field and lead you toward the best fire pit for your family.

Of course you must consider local regulations regarding backyard burning before building a fire pit. Some communities enforce hefty fines if you burn without working through proper channels first. What the local municipality or neighborhood covenant allows influences the type of fire pit you can create in your yard. This is another key step toward discovering the best outdoor fire pit for you.

You can find portable fire pits that marry low price points with stylish designs at many retail outlets. But you may want to consider speaking with a local landscaper who has experience building fire pits. You might be able to get a custom creation at a lower price than you think. It may even be that you’ll only need the landscaper to draft a plan and do any necessary earthwork and drainage. Then you can finish the fire pit as a DIY project by adding any pit veneers or installing a patio surround.

If your fire pit site experiences a strong crosswind, you may need to create some kind of a windbreak so that the fire warms all guests equally—and doesn’t inundate neighbors with smoke. A hedgerow of shrubs or a line of ornamental grasses or evergreens can provide an adequate windbreak in most situations. Or maybe you want to build a wall that houses a cascading fountain to introduce the element of water to the fireside setting. 

A wood-burning pit, which generates smoke, is not the best fire pit option for family members with respiratory issues. In these cases, consider a gas-fueled flame. You can choose fire pits that run on liquid propane or natural gas. In fact, most fire pit burner set-ups can be easily converted to run on either fuel source. A properly installed gas burner doesn’t produce smoke, but does generate cozy heat. Gas flames also don’t produce flying embers that can ignite nearby surfaces.

You can get creative and build cheap fire pits using up-cycled and repurposed materials. Or you can go for a basic campfire look, which requires very little input except stones to surround the fire. You can also use a cast concrete planter or sink that you might have on hand to form a fire pit. Line it with fire-rated brick and mortar before burning.

For small yards, look into fire tables, which combine the functionality of outdoor furniture with the warm glow of dancing flames. Or investigate gas-fueled fire bowls that can be mounted on short stone or metal columns. You can also easily build a tabletop gel-fueled fire pit using a fire-rated metal or terra-cotta container to hold the gel fuel. Create a glass insert using up-cycled tempered glass, add a piece of grill mesh, some polished river rock, and you’re ready to burn.

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