Roy's Garden: Warming up to fire pits

Monday, July 30, 2012

Photo by Roy Mangel
By Roy Mangel

There is a sizable division of thought regarding the enjoyment of a backyard fire pit. Many people enjoy the warmth of a dancing flame coupled with the crackling of glowing embers that are contained within their own personal blaze. While others feel that in this day and age there is no need to add excessive carbon emissions and burnt particles to our already diminished air quality. 

Photo by Roy Mangel

Here in the northwest I find the pendulum shifting towards positive feelings of gathering around the fire under the night’s stars. Still often I hear of neighbor conflicts over smoke and sparks too close to property boundaries and homes. As a fire pit proponent myself I urge everyone to choose wisely both the location of their fire pit and the type of wood you burn. Often just inviting your neighbor over to share a drink and the warmth of your embers may be enough to ensure your fire pit experience is stress free. Maybe you can utilize your fire pit for mending an already fractured neighbor relationship. 

Photo by Roy Mangel
The before mentioned wood may likely be your most important factor in deciding the successful integration of your new fire pit. Well seasoned and dry wood will produce a minimal amount of smoke. This is key for your own enjoyment as well. As someone who has learned the hard way, I can attest that even an hour long shower will not alleviate that fact that you smell like a piece of burnt wood for the next 24 hours if you use slightly unseasoned wood. Then please consider safety. I will not lecture anyone on fire safety other to say simple good judgment and close access to your garden hose is always a good idea.

Photo by Roy Mangel

Now that we have dealt with the unpleasant issues that come with your first fire pit, let's talk design.

Do you buy a fire pit or make your own. For most people it is as easy as a quick purchase at the hardware store. My feeling is you can’t go wrong with copper.

But for myself a fire pit it much more than a temporary fixture of your outdoor space. It is a well thought out space in your sanctuary that brings people together. A place for roasting marshmallows, enjoying a beverage with friends under the stars, or just communing with your yard on a cozy level that can only be found around an open flame. 

Photo by Roy Mangel
What are your choices you ask? Well consider them endless. Square, Circle, Octagon, below ground above or in the middle, you even can choose between burning wood or natural gas You may also want to consider your new fire pit surround. Do you have wood benches, Adirondacks, gigantic boulder benches, custom professionally built surround? Whatever you choose consider yourself on your way to a warmer future of camaraderie and fun. 


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