Outdoor Fireplaces

Filed in Landscaping by on October 6, 2015


By Patricia Carlson

Since the discovery of fire, the fire pit has been a place of gathering, socializing, feasting, and relaxing. Contemporary fire pits aren’t simple stacks of wood like Homo erectus constructed some 400,000 years ago. They are, dare we say, beautiful focal points that help create an outdoor living space that becomes an inviting extension of your home.

“Permanent outdoor fireplaces, wood or gas, add beauty and comfort to the lake living lifestyle. They are great gathering places for family and friends and are often the centerpiece of an outdoor room,” notes Alex Brick and Stone’s Neil Jenzen. “Whether an outdoor room functions as kitchen or living room, there are endless design options when adding a fireplace to the space.”

“An outdoor fireplace makes a relatively empty back yard appear friendly,” says Joe Hetland, an inside sales representative at Hedberg Supply’s Plymouth, Minn. location. “In the homeowner’s and house hunter’s minds, your outdoor living room becomes extra ‘unmeasured’ square footage that adds to the perceived value of the property.”

With so many options available to choose from, it can be hard to know how to incorporate a fireplace or fire pit into your landscape design. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you.

Wood Burning
These little gems are like having a campfire in your own backyard. Sometimes, they’re portable and cheap. You can walk out of most big box retailers with a stand-alone fire pit in your hands. But if you’re going for something that will withstand the test of time and nature, and allow you to build a patio around it, you’ll need something more permanent.

The most popular type of fire pit, at least in lakes country, is round and raised, says Jerry Konz of JK Landscape in Clearwater. “They usually come with a retaining wall block and have pavers surrounding it.” These types of fire pits can be custom built or come in a pre-manufactured kit where you’d need to have a landscape company assemble and install them for you. A good quality fire pit kit starts at under $400.

Sometimes, though, these round fire pits are sunk underground, creating more of a ring, like this one from Hedberg Supply.

When you really want to stand out from the crowd, and are willing to spend several thousand bucks designing a gorgeous backyard oasis, an outdoor fireplace is the hottest trend. “One way to bring an outdoor room together is by focusing on your outdoor fire place and adding accessories that complement it,” says Hilary Mays, a marketing content specialist at The Outdoor GreatRoom Company in Eagan. “We really love pergolas as the foundation of the outdoor room and as a way to define that space. We also love rugs, lamps, twinkle lights, lanterns, and any other accessory that you may not think of as a typical outdoor accessory.”



These are the most convenient options for homeowners. They emit a pretty, quality flame without needing or wood. But the best thing about them is usually their design – they can incorporate faux wood, rock pebbles or even glass.

The most contemporary option is a fire table, which is a hybrid of a fireplace and a fire pit. These beauties often consist of a fire pit in the center with a large rim surrounding the flames; a safety precaution and an easy spot to rest a glass or plate.

Don’t forget to refill your propane every once in a while so you don’t run out while entertaining guests! Better yet, have a gas line plumbed to the location, making sure that the unit you choose is adequately equipped, and you will never have to worry.

Natural Gas


This is the most permanent of all the options because you will need to install and run a natural gas line. The good news is that once it’s in, you’ll never run out of power for your fire pit or fireplace again. Natural gas fireplaces and pits tend to have the most design options to choose from. There are sunken designs, tabletop options that come in squares or rounds, and standalone fire places

Gas, both natural gas and liquid propane, fireplaces are popular in cities and areas where wood burning is not allowed, says Mays, but if you choose to go with either, there are several safety precautions to take. Gary Stone of Cullen’s Home Center in Fergus Falls says “Today’s gas fireplaces offer a similar flame to wood burning models. They also provide some safety and a nice ambiance both of which make them highly desirable.”

You’ll want your fireplace far enough from your home to prevent any secondary damage, but close enough that you can still run in for extras like party supplies or blankets. Consider a raised fire pit or fireplace if you have small children or animals; both are naturally curious. Finally, be sure you follow local laws and building codes around installation of gas lines; these vary by location.

Off Season


A well-made fireplace or fire pit will not need any special treatment, other than turning off your gas line. Some manufacturers, like The Outdoor GreatRoom Company, provide covers for their products. Some people choose to store a portable fire pit in a garage or shed for the winter while they’re not using it.

Storing your fire pit or fireplace should be effortless, but there will be maintenance. The best way to make your fireplace last is to apply a seal every couple of years, more often if necessary. You will also need check and to repair or replace parts such as burners and lines occasionally.

Have you made the choice to add a beautiful fireplace or fire pit to you outdoor living space? We’d love to see some pictures of your outdoor living rooms with your fire pits front and center! Be sure to share your photos with us on Facebook! You might find your room featured on our website or Pinterest boards.

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