If you've ever been camping, you've seen the ubiquitous fire rings that dot campsites across the country. Fire pits use this principle, too. Although you can build a wood burning fire pit or use another fuel source, such as gas logs, the most important consideration is safety. That's why heat-containing materials like stone, ceramic, metal and brick are always employed in fire pit design. It's also why any DIY fire pit project you undertake should include selecting a level spot at least 10 feet away from trees, shrubs and anything else that could catch an errant spark and burn -- including your house. As fun as fire pits are, they can be dangerous, and if your property doesn't have enough open area, well, how about building a nice water feature instead?
From a design standpoint, fire pits often conform to a few basic shapes and styles. That doesn't mean a savvy and ingenious DIYer couldn't make one in any shape that took his -- or your -- fancy. Here is a list of some shapes you may consider:
- Round pits - Like a round dinner table (with flaming coals in the middle), round fire pits make effective conversation areas. If you do quite a bit of outdoor entertaining -- or want to -- using a round fire pit as a conversational grouping area will allow everyone to interact easily. This is also a great configuration in which to use a dramatic prefabricated dish or bowl.
- Square pits - Square fire pits will typically require more space than their round counterparts and can look boxy, especially in tiny locations. If you'd like to give your garden a feng shui vibe, they can add a Zen feel to a large space and offer structure and a formal feel.
- Rectangular pits - If you want a large pit that will accommodate a crowd, rectangular fire pits are an attractive accompaniment to long bench seating. They can make a narrow patio look deeper and also work well with other features, like ponds and pools.
- Unique pits - This is where the fun begins. If you have an intrepid spirit, you can try some unique or outlandish designs for fire pits, too. How about an old concrete washing tub, a tractor tire rim or an old washing machine drum for the foundation of your fire pit?
- Outdoor fireplaces - The ultimate fire pit isn't a pit at all, it's a fireplace for outdoor spaces. If you want to create an outdoor fire feature that has it all, think vertical and build an outdoor fireplace.