Fire Pits: A Guide to Garden Hot Spots

Despite our unpredictable weather and disappointingly cool summer evenings, we Brits still love to relax and cook in our gardens. Even in the height of summer we often need some help to keep us warm outdoors and a centrepiece heater can be a social focal point. Gas patio heaters and wood or charcoal-burning chimeneas have been popular forms of garden heating in the past but fire pits are currently in vogue as a means to ward off the evening chills. As fire pits can double up as a barbecue and can make an attractive garden feature it’s no wonder that they are appearing in gardens up and down the country.

What is a fire pit?

A fire pit comes in many forms but at its most basic level it is a hole which contains a fire. It can be anything from a hole dug in the garden or a pit surrounded by bricks or concrete to a portable steel structure with a hollowed-out centre. Like a barbecue, fire pits can run off gas or can use wood or charcoal as their burning fuel.

Can I make my own fire pit?

It’s not difficult to construct your own fire pit in your garden. A simple fire pit involves digging a hole about 18 inches deep, putting gravel in the bottom for drainage and topping it with sand to just below ground level. Surround the hole with a brick or stone wall and your fire pit is ready to go.

Can I buy a ready-made fire pit?

Ready-made fire pits are available from a wide range of retailers for a wide range of prices. High Street chains such as Tesco, Homebase, B&Q, Asda, Argos and John Lewis have fire pits for sale as well as a number of specialist fire pit and outdoor heating companies.

The cheapest fire pits to buy are usually made from steel or cast iron. They can be moved around the garden as required and can be used to burn logs, untreated wood or HeatBlox. Some of the fire pits can be fitted with barbecue grills for cooking but their main purpose is as a heat source and to provide an attractive focal point for a social gathering. These basic fire pits tend to be either circular or square-shaped and can be bought for as little as £40 or £50. It is possible to buy stone or clay fire pits but these tend to cost more.

If you’re prepared to spend a bit more money you could opt for a gas-fuelled fire pit. These work in the same way as a gas barbecue so the heat can be switched on and off and controlled with the turn of a knob. As you don’t get the same natural flame as you would with a wood-burning fire pit the manufacturers tend to include aesthetically-pleasing imitation hot stones or logs and a flame effect.

If you want to indulge yourself and your garden you can buy garden furniture sets with a fire pit incorporated into the table. This is the ultimate set up for evening drinks and dining with friends and family. If you can’t find the fire pit design you want, there are companies which will build a bespoke fire pit for your garden. Whether you want a fire pit as a permanent fixture in your garden or a personalised cast iron portable pit, a simple Google search will provide a list of companies willing to help you design your own fire pit.

How much maintenance does a fire pit require?

Most fire pits require little or no maintenance as they are designed to be left outside. Stone and brick pits will look after themselves. Steel fire pits may benefit from a clean with a wire brush and a coating of oil occasionally but should still be able to withstand the British weather without any maintenance. Covers are available for many fire pit designs if you want to protect it through the winter.

Are fire pits safe?

Fire pits are designed to contain a fire so they have to be treated with respect. A permanent fire pit should be built at least three metres away from any structures and children and pets should be kept away from the fire. Some fire pit designs have an optional glass screen to prevent accidental contact with the flames.

There are affordable fire pits at low prices and they are a good solution to keep you warm while spending time outdoor. They make your backyard look cosy but make sure you never leave the fire pit unattended and follow all regulations and rules to prevent large fire.

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