KEEP WARM AND COSY THIS WINTER with your own fire pit
With all the cold, rain and freezing temperatures of winter, you might find it challenging to stay warm. This is especially true if you still want to use and enjoy your garden space. A fire pit in your garden, with a cosy fire burning inside of it, creates the ideal conditions to prolong an evening outdoors. Furthermore, whether it is just you and the stars above or a bunch of friends joining you, it is always nice to spend time next to a cosy fire.
Having a source of outdoor heating can make a big difference for an entertaining evening at home. People and animals are naturally drawn to the warmth, comfort and security of a fire. An outdoor fire pit, a simple fire bowl with comfy seating around it, or even a standing fire heater on the patio mean that friends and family will happily stay outdoors longer when the temperature drops. The cold forces everyone to huddle closer to the warmth, to all partake in the conversations, and there is nothing as relaxing as watching the flames after a good meal.
HISTORY OF THE FIRE PIT
Traditionally, a fire pit was just that. A pit in the ground, where people would build a fire. The idea was to keep the fire safely contained and to eat and sleep around it. With the people slightly elevated above the pit, they got maximum warmth from it. Man’s first use of a fire pit dates back to the Middle Paleolithic period, some 200,000-400,000 years ago.
Archaeological evidence from sites such as the Klasies River Caves in South Africa shows that people made fire pits using a collection of stones to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading. Other cultures throughout history used a simple hole in the ground filled with hot coals and stones for both warmth and in-ground cooking. Peruvians, Eastern Indians, and many Polynesian cultures used in-ground fire pits to cook for large numbers of people. They used these fire pits during times of festivals, harvest and religious ceremonies.
MODERN FIRE PITS
Today, people use fire pits mainly as a space for casual outdoor dining and relaxing. They can be as simple as a modern-shaped bowl with a bright gas flame that is more a talking piece than somewhere to cook outdoors. Alternatively, they can be very elaborate steel, stone and concrete structures. This type normally allows built-in seating, cooking facilities and reclining space. Everything in between seems to go as well.
Many gardeners and homeowners build their own fire pit to suit their house style, budget and needs. Raised circular or square pits allow one to sit around the pit on chairs or benches and still feel the warmth of the flames. In addition, it allows them to have easy access to the fire for cooking or adding more wood or charcoal. Sunken pits with sunken seating around the central fire create an even more cosy space. The sides of the pit add insulating warmth, closeness, privacy and further protection from the wind.
WHERE TO POSITION YOUR PIT
When it comes to garden construction, make sure that you don’t put your pit close to neighbouring walls. This is vital if any part of it requires a foundation. Anything requiring foundations in your garden will also require planning permission from the city council. Next, make sure that there are no low, overhanging trees above your intended spot. Failing to keep this in mind, you may end up with more of a garden bonfire than a cosy pit.
Position your fire pit somewhere where you can have privacy from roads and neighbours. Remember that you might get a little too rowdy around your fire pit late at night. You should consider planting shrubs to buffer the area and give it more privacy. Also, be considerate of your neighbours and check the prevailing wind direction. They may not take too kindly to your new ‘geselshout’-burning obsession if your fire fills their house with smoke every night. Wood that is wet also smokes much more, so try and keep your wood as dry as possible.
HOW TO BUILD A FIRE PIT
There are many designs and styles of fire pits one can construct. If you want to create a simple DIY one at home, then the easiest is to dig an in-ground pit rather than an above-ground fire pit. You will require a square or circular footing for the bricks or stones to rest on. A simple one-meter diameter circular pit will ensure that it is big enough to get a large fire burning. With its relatively small size, this pit will be intimate enough for people to sit around it without feeling too scorched.
Examples and ideas
This simple, affordable fire pit by Attempting Green shows you step-by-step how to build a simple pit for burning weeds, wood and the occasional marshmallow.
If you want to try your hand at a raised, circular brick fire pit that is a more permanent structure in the garden, then this website by Garden and Home has a very good step-by-step guide for the more adventurous ones out there.
Image source: Garden & Home
We love the simple yet striking fire pit made with welded stainless steel sheets by The Brick House blog. The only thing is it is not too child-friendly as the sides may become extremely hot. Furthermore, you will have to be very careful if you sip on a few too many glasses of sherry as stumbling against the side of this could be rather painful…but who said beauty is always painless!
Simplicity is taken even further with a simple bowl idea. Re-purposing an old garden pot could work just as easily. Heat-resistant materials like fired Terracotta will ensure that they shouldn’t crack when you light your first fire in it. Low-sided, wide bowls make the most elegant fire pit containers. You can still see the flames and feel the warmth when it is placed on the ground.
Or how about an amazing fire pit creation that fuses sculpture and functions to create an amazing piece? One could commission a steel maker to make a custom one with one’s own design. This would be quite the talking piece and definitely needs a dramatic setting to show it off.
Image source: Bored Panda
For further information on fire pits, please get in touch with the Fire Pit Company.