Black metal fire pit bowl with burning twigs

Fire pit cool

The sun is setting, the evening getting cooler. The fire pit is being stoked and you’re in your garden with the whole night ahead of you. Sounds pretty perfect, right? Right.

Having a fire pit is a great way to spend more time outdoors with friends and family, and we all like the sound of that.

What is a fire pit?

A fire pit is a kind of outdoor fireplace; it can be portable or fixed, and is typically (though not always) open on all sides.

The great thing is, a DIY one can work just as well as a bought one, even if it doesn’t have the same polished finish. It is essentially a structure that can take many forms, including a fire pit table, that burns real wood, or is fuelled by propane, natural gas or clean-burning gel.

Want one? Consider this

What’s your style?

There is a huge variety of fire pits on the market, from small, portable, metal bowls and square-shaped,
wrought iron fire grills, to large stone or stainless steel models and elegant fire pit tables.

Whether your outdoor space is sleek and minimalist, charmingly eclectic, or rustic in style, think about the look and feel of your garden and find a fire pit that adds to the atmosphere you have created.

Perfect size

Limited for space but still want a fire pit? A free-standing, portable fire pit may be just the ticket. You’ll easily find basic models that are 5060 centimeters in diameter great even for tiny patches of lawn or decking. In a larger space, you’ll have more options, including DIY fire pits and natural gas models.

Close-up of marshmallows being roasted over a fire pit table

What is its purpose?

Ask yourself what you want to use your fire pit for. Fancy al fresco cooking and star gazing by the heat of a real fire? A wood-burning fire pit might be your best option. Maybe you’re more interested in adding a fantastic design feature to your outdoor space? A natural gas or propane fire pit might be a better match.

Gel fuel fire pits are easy to use and look good, but they don’t give off as much heat as many other fire pits. Not a problem, if convenient, stylish accessories is more of a priority than outdoor cooking and heating.

What fuel to use?

Close-up of two wooden logsWood-burning (and charcoal) fire pits

  • Authentic feel
  • Great source of heat
  • Good for cooking

A fire pit that burns wood is the closest substitute for an actual campfire, with the crackle, smoke and heat providing an authentic outdoors vibe. Wood and charcoal fire pits can also be superb alternatives to a traditional grill, for year-round outdoor cooking.

Propane fire pits

  • Minimal maintenance
  • Easy to use
  • Good heat source

A propane fire pit is a convenient option if you have space, that is; they tend to be large. Fuelled by a propane tank, they switch on and off in an instant, without the need for a gas line and with no ashes to worry about.

Gel fuel fire pits

  • Environmentally-friendly
  • Easy to use
  • Very versatile and easy to move

Gel fuel fire pits are also convenient and flexible. They use tins of eco-friendly fuel, or gel, which burns without giving off any smell, smoke or mess. The fuel can be used in many different types of fire pits, but doesn’t tend to give off a lot of heat.

Natural gas fire pits

  • Good source of heat
  • Stylish garden design feature
  • Affordable to run once installed

A natural gas fire pit can offer your garden a stunning statement piece. They are often beautifully designed, with sunken and raised models available and you’ll never run out of fuel. They are fixed, though, and you’ll need to install a potentially pricey natural gas line.

Not just a fire pit

Close-up of fire basket with burning logs in it

There are other, simple outdoor heating and cooking options that you might want to consider:

  • A chimenea is a freestanding, front-loading oven or fireplace, but unlike fire pits, chimeneas are contained and have a flue or chimney.
  • Outdoor fireplaces are usually also contained, but with the added safety of a hatch or screen at the front.
  • A fire basket is pretty much what it sounds like a metal basket that you burn firewood in. It’s easy to use and move, but not suited for windy weather.

Top tips for your fire pit

  • Add a sprinkle of sage to your fire pit to help keep mosquitos and other flying nasties away.
  • Fill apples with granola or crumbled oatmeal cookies, wrap in tin foil and cook in the embers of your fire pit for a delicious, warm dessert.
  • Put a grill on top of your fire pit and transform it into a barbecue.

Metal fire pit bowl with burning twigs in it, in wooded area

Need more inspiration?

Still not sure what kind of fire pit to get, or how to make the most of it? Check out this House to Home article, featuring 5 fantastic fire pits and Gardens Illustrated ’s top nine fire pits , for more ideas.

Another great place to look for inspiration when it comes to creative fire pit designs and DIY tips is Pinterest. So what are you waiting for? Log on now and start the hunt for your perfect fire pit.