A fire pit is probably the oldest, cheapest and most basic way of adding a heated area to your garden. That said, it can be a very stylish way of creating a permanent and highly effective garden heater that looks good and usually includes some “bench style” masonry seating.
What is a fire pit
In its simplest form, a temporary fire pit is nothing more than a whole that is dug in the ground and filled with a combustible material. The material in the pit is then set alight and it generates warmth and even a cooking zone.
Not surprisingly, modern fire pits are more sophisticated, more permanent, more attractive and more multi-purpose and, importantly, you can buy fire pit kits that are easy to construct.
A typical fire pit has a base that is dug out and set several inches below the surrounding ground level. A masonry structure, which may be of brick or stone, is then built around this pit to create what is usually a circular fire pit in which fossil fuels can be burnt.
In all but the most primitive of fire pit kits, an area around or to the side of the fire pit is paved (hard landscaped) and some masonry benching added. This seating structure need take the form of nothing more than a solid plinth, but it may also be curved to match the pit and the more elaborate benches can have back rests.
Obviously the options for design, in terms of simplicity or grandeur, are limitless and a fire pit can be designed as an important visual garden feature, or simply as a functional basic heater.
There are a number of manufacturers who retail fire pit kits and most sell over the internet.
These kits start cheap, but can run into hundreds of dollars (pound Stirling) and may have the basic structure finished with stone veneers (slips), marble or stucco surfaces. Any seating can also be treated to compliment the pit and this can result in a great outdoor social area that can double up for barbeque use.
These pits can be of a traditional rustic appearance, or look like modernist pieces of artwork. The price of a fire pit will reflect the materials used and the scale of the construction.
Cast iron and terra cotta and stone fire pits
In addition to a real fire pit, you can also buy cast iron fire pits that stand on a patio or any other level surface.
These kits can be made of metal or stone and can be highly decorative and even include a fire guard (mesh) and sometimes a lid.
The big advantage of these stand alone fire pits is that they have a minimal space requirement and a lack of any assembly or construction skills.