Design Ideas and Tips on Installing A Backyard Outdoor Fire Pit

Backyard Fire Pit Design Ideas For Madison Wi, Homeowners

Outdoor living is a trend that has been growing for the past several years. The indoor/outdoor living transition has become popular with homeowners who are seeking to add functionality and enjoyment to their property. 

From fully functioning outdoor kitchens complete with refrigerators and running water, to elaborate outdoor living rooms with TV's and water features, your home's outdoor space can become an oasis for entertaining family and friends, or enjoying a quiet evening in the yard sipping wine and curling up with a good book.

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One element that can add a lot of enjoyment, and can extend your use of your outdoor space well into the cool evenings of the Madison, Wisconsin fall, is a fire pit.  Imagine as the sun slowly sets on a crisp fall day, you gather the family around and light your fire pit adding light and warmth to your yard and extending the enjoyment of your day.

Here are some tips for designing and installing the perfect fire pit for your Madison, Wisconsin yard!

Designing Your Fire Pit

This fire pit uses a freestanding manufactured unit placed on a stamped, colored concrete patio.

You have many options when it comes to the size, shape, and style of your fire pit. You can have a built-in pit installed that can be made from a variety of materials including concrete, stone or brick. Your pit can be square, round, L-shaped, triangular, or an entirely custom shape your design. It can include built-in seating, be a focal point in your outdoor living room, or a separate area away from your house, hidden in your garden.

Today, you even have options regarding fuel. Fire pits are available that use gas, propane, ethanol, and of course wood. When choosing a fuel weigh the pros and cons of each. Think of availability, and storage – if you prefer wood. Do you have a natural gas line nearby? You can have a plumber run a line from your home to your fire pit. Do you prefer wood or the ease of propane? Your fuel choice will impact to overall cost of operating your fire pit so think about how often you'll use it, and how convenient it is to purchase fuel. 

Because of the vast array of pit designs available, it's essential to choose the appropriate size and location for your fire pit. You may also be limited by your local building codes. Work with your design-build contractor. They can offer you advice and will know your local building codes so they can help you to design and locate your fire pit. 

If you have existing outdoor hardscaping, your design-build team can help you to choose materials that will match your homes architecture and the style of your current outdoor living areas. Make sure you discuss your specific needs with your contractor before starting construction. If, for example, you'd love a pit where the kids can toast marshmallows on a crisp fall night, consider adding lava rock in the bowl which absorbs heat and radiates it out... perfect for toasting marshmallows!

Where To Place Your Fire Pit

Be sure that your backyard fire pit is far enough from the house to avoid fire hazards. Be award that your local municipality may have a zoning code which regulates the location.

Once you've settled on a design, it's time to begin the installation. Regarding location, take the time to clear out an area on your lawn with plenty of vertical space. Make sure that the area is free of overhead or buried utility lines. Consider if trees will be singed by the fire. Your contractor will double check your location and begin to dig the foundation, which is often compacted stone rather than a traditional footing and frostwall. Typically it's 6 to 12- inches deep. The foundation preparation is an important first step.

Your designer might create a fire pit design that is able to block the wind and control how the fire burns. Usually, the walls are approximately 18-inches off the ground. This height offers protection and gives you a comfortable seating height for relaxing, watching and tending the fire.

The distance really depends on your needs but typically is between 36 and 44” when measured across the inside walls. If you intend to use chairs for seating, the outer wall for the fire pit area will need to allow for more space. Designing the right distance allows you to have intimate conversations with anyone seated around the pit, and flexibility to be nearer to the fire on a cool night or farther away when it’s warm.

Finally, your design-build contractor will work with you to choose the perfect material for your fire pit. If budget is an issue, prefabricated paver blocks are available specifically for fire pits. They are curved making installation a quick process and come in a variety of styles to match any hardscaping you may already have in place. If you're looking for a more unique look, there are many other options of natural stone available from larger rocks or boulders to quartzite, red lava rocks or sandstone slabs. Your contractor will make sure that whatever material you choose is installed properly and securely to offer protection to anyone sitting around the fire. 

Accessories and Additions

Your fire pit area can contain simple lawn furniture surrounding your pit, or as elaborate as you want. You can create sitting walls that can help shield the fire pit from the wind, surround it with plush outdoor seating, place your fire pit as a central focal point in your outdoor living room, or located down a private path in the center of a lush garden. 

Combining a fire pit with a water feature can add a layer of elegance to your outdoor space. If you have a pool area, adding a fire pit with built-in cushioned seating can extend your outdoor season. The fact is, when it comes to designing your outdoor fire pit, your only limitations are your creative vision and your budget! 

Adding a fire pit to your outdoor landscaping can improve your quality of life, extend your time outdoors well into the fall, add a beautiful focal point to your landscape, and as part of an outdoor hardscape living space, increase the value of your home.  

If you're interested in learning more about adding an outdoor fire pit to your Madison, Wisconsin home, give the design experts at Degnan Design Build Remodel a call at (608) 846-5963. Let us help you design and install the perfect outdoor fire pit for your home.  

This article was updated by Abe Degnan on 2/1/2019.