Fire Pit Design Ideas & Options

Take your outdoor living spaces to a whole new level by adding an outdoor fire pit. Discover design tips and ideas you can use.

The fire pit, flanked by a complementary wall, creates an intimate  setting in this patio that's designed for entertaining large groups.  Designed by Robert Hursthouse.

Fire Pit on Patio with Complimentary Wall

The fire pit, flanked by a complementary wall, creates an intimate setting in this patio that's designed for entertaining large groups. Designed by Robert Hursthouse.

Give your yard vacation destination flair by adding an outdoor fire pit. Whether you choose a basic campfire-style or a modern fire pit that pairs gas flames and fire glass, you’ll discover that lighting a fire transforms any gathering into an event. Backyard fire pit ideas don’t have to be complex to be memorable. A simple fire ring teamed with s’mores has the makings of lifelong memories for your family.

Designing an outdoor fire pit starts with choosing a fuel. You might favor a traditional wood-burning fire pit, or maybe you want to experience the carefree ease of a gas-fueled flames. Today’s gas burners convert easily to run on either liquid propane (like your gas grill) or natural gas. Using LP tanks gives you fire pit a portable option, if it’s not too heavy. Tying into the natural gas lines that run to your home saves money in the long run, especially if you burn fires on a regular basis.

Outdoor gas fire pits are actually more environmentally friendly than a wood-fueled fire. They also don’t produce ash or odor that lingers in clothing and hair. Of course, outdoor gas fire pits lack the sounds and smells of wood fires. There’s no popping or crackling to accompany the flames—and no wood smoke, which makes a gas fire pit safe for individuals with respiratory problems. 

Research different fuel options while considering backyard fire pit ideas. You may opt for a wood-fired blaze, which is probably one of the cheaper options, costing you around $1.50 per fire. Wood fire pits require regular cleaning to remove ashes, but they can support a grill for cooking food. Some gas fire pits are not rated for cooking food.

Also consider how large a fire pit you want. If you’ll typically desire hours of enjoyment, choose a larger pit or deeper bowl. A smaller pit or bowl can also provide hours of blazing fire, but you’ll need to restock wood sooner, which means you’ll need a ready supply on hand.

You may prefer the sleek outdoor fire pit design styles that are possible with propane- or natural gas-fueled fire pits. Propane will cost you $2 plus a little change each time you light up; natural gas runs around $5 for a two-hour fire. Propane fire pits demand regular cleaning to keep burner openings unclogged. It’s also wise to ensure vents are clear before burning.

Before choosing to add a fire pit to your yard, double-check local ordinances regarding open flames in a residential setting. City code may stipulate everything from fire pit size, to distance from nearby structures, to required on-site fire extinguishers. Learn what you have to do to be legal, or you could face stiff fines. 

Homeowners insurance fees also may vary for a backyard or patio with a fire pit versus without. Check with your agent to explore any potential impact and to learn if you should increase any coverage as preparation for a worst-case scenario. In areas prone to wildfires, many insurance companies require notification if you plan to add an outdoor fire pit.

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