If you use your yard or patio for entertaining it probably all set up for use across the summer months. You have the BBQ and lovely outdoor patio furniture and the scene is well set up. To extend the use of this great outside entertaining area the addition of an outdoor fireplace is a must. Outdoor fireplaces come in a variety of styles, there are options from the basic fire pit to a free-standing chiminea to a full-blown outdoor stone fireplace. The portable kinds of fireplace use wood or coals for burning, the fixed fireplaces can be wood or gas-fired.
The fire pit is the most simple of outdoor fires to have. It consists of a large round “pit” or dish, which contains the fire. Some fire pits are built into the ground with stone or brick surrounds. Others are free-standing usually made from metal (copper or cast iron), supported by feet, with a grill on top and sometimes a mesh lid to cover them. These can be moved to where ever you wish to place your fireplace to suit the social occasion. The fire sits on the grill and the ash collects in the bowl. The fire pit can be used for heating or for cooking. Built-in fire pits are also available with gas or propane fuels.
To Chiminea or Chimenea
This kind of patio heating originated in Spain but became very popular in South America for cooking and heating. A chiminea also spelled chimenea, is a bit like a pot on legs with a built-in chimney! Originally used inside the house near an open window, today they are more often found outdoors for entertaining. Some come with grills and doors for cooking and they vary in size.
Chimeneas can be made of pottery, cast iron(very heavy), ceramic, and more modern ones are constructed of stone in the style of a chiminea. Some are portable which will enable you to move your fireplace to where you want it, although not once lit! A chimenea traditionally has sand placed in the bottom to hold fire-resistant bricks, upon which the fire is built. Cooking is done over the top of the fire.
The charm of real fire can not be denied which is what attracts people to the fire pits and chimeneas, but they require wood to be available and cleaning afterward, which may not suit everyone.
Outdoor Gas Fireplaces
The appeal of a gas-powered fireplace is that you never have to worry about getting the wood. If visitors come around unexpectedly then it is never a problem, the fire lights at the push of a button. Outdoor fireplace kits are available to convert many fireplaces to gas. The kits usually contain metal rings that fit in the base of say the fire pit and can be connected to the natural gas or LP outlets. Any conversion is recommended to be undertaken by a qualified professional.
Outdoor Fireplace Designs
One of the first things to consider in fireplace design is what type of fuel you will be using i.e wood or some form of gas. They both have advantages and disadvantages, but your choice may well impact the next consideration of where to place your fireplace. Wood is charming, has a nice smoky scent and is very atmospheric. Gas on the other hand is much easier to get going, with less preparation and tidying up afterward.
Do you want a fixed fireplace with cooking facilities or the ability to move the fireplace around as it suits your occasion? If you decide to have a fixed fireplace then consider carefully where in your yard or patio it will go. Once you have some idea of what you would like you need to consider your budget. A chimenea or fire pit can be bought relatively cheaply less than $200, whereas a stone fireplace will cost thousands of dollars.
With any kind of open fire there is danger. Always ensure that the fire is watched by a responsible adult and that the fire extinguisher is near to hand. Small children should be carefully supervised near fires.
Which One Are You Going to Have In Your Yard?
Now you have seen the different basic styles for outdoor fireplaces which one will you choose? I think for a formal outdoor setting s built-in stone fireplace fitted with gas would make it very easy and convenient. For impromptu style gathering having a fire pit with all the atmosphere and smells of wood burning will be hard to beat.