Outdoor Outlook: Fall is the time for fireplaces and firepits

Donald Sherbeyn

We’ve made it through another Virginia summer. August was beautiful, lower than normal temperatures, higher than average moisture as a landscaper or a landscape enthusiast we could not have ordered a better month to be outside.

So it’s September now and anything we want to do in our yards can be done. Plantings, patios, Installing new turf or water gardens. Fire pits and fireplaces are great projects for this time of year also. Whatever you’re dreaming of for you landscape. September is perfect for anything.

Every year as fall grows closer and the heat of summer begins to fade, I get a little excited. Knowing as I walk out my door each morning mother nature will kiss my cheek with a cool breeze and as the day unfolds she will warm my back with the gentle rays of the sun. The days growing shorter and the list of projects to complete growing longer there are few feelings as sweet.

If you have been reading my article each month then by now you know I take great happiness from spending time with friends and family and building areas where others can do this as well. I believe there is nothing more important than to spend time with loved ones making memories so today we should talk about fire pits.  The proper way to install them,  proper materials and some advice on what to do and what we probably should not do. It would be sad to hear someone blew up grandma, burnt down the neighborhood or had some other uh-oh moment.

Alright so here are some guidelines on what, where, why, and how to select your build site and build your fire pit.

First site selection, be sure to look around and choose an area well away from anything combustible. Sitting under a large oak tree might seem like a great place for a patio but this is probably not the best location for your fire pit. Remember even with ember arrestors in place they can and will escape the fire pit and could ignite flammable materials.

Second would be to choose an area slightly elevated this will allow you to install a drain into your fire pit or at least set surrounding grades to allow water to evacuate the pit. Improper grades will ensure your fire pit becomes a fire pond.

The third and most important thing to look at when building your fire pit is the material you will use to build it. Natural stone is beautiful and while some natural materials work very well in creating the border for your new pit some stones will actually explode when overheated. In fact most natural stones have the ability to explode if they are overheated so if you plan to use a natural stone surround be mindful of this and build the surround large enough to keep the direct heat of the fire away from the stones. You can also use fire rock mortared with fire proof mortar to the inside to ensure the stones don’t get too hot or even install a metal border to keep the fire away from the rock. These days there are many segmental concrete ready built fire pits that can be purchased and installed with relative ease.

Whatever your choice remember to plan it out, lay it out, and think it out before you build it out.

Live the Dream, We are.