We are a card-carrying outdoor fire enthusiasts. We think they provide a great focus for outdoor entertaining and there is unquestionably a restorative effect to the warmth of the gentle glow of flickering flames.
For the garden designer, fires should be a tool for spatial control and structure within a garden. Not only is a fire an attractive focal point to anchor a view, but the placement of a fire element or fire pit will create a distinct zone in front of or around it, identifying this space within the wider garden scheme.
We don't need an excuse to fire up the the firepit on a Friday night and endeavour to entice friends outside to have a glass of wine, sit and stare into the flames and let the stresses of the week melt away. A firepit will allow you to stay outside even when it gets a bit chilly.
Maybe the most fundamental design choice for the client is which material to use? Masonry, textured render, cast concrete, steel, granite or stone are all commonly used materials for fireplaces or firepits.
This masonry fireplace (above) was built by the landscaper and then expertly rendered.
The polished concrete firepit (below) can be made in 1400mm, 1800mm or 2200mm widths.
Cooking on an outdoor fire is possible when wood-burning - and one can deliver a fantastic flavour profile to even the humblest of foods. Some of our off-the-shelf units are designed primarily around the cooking aspect, with adjustable shelf heights or grilles.
An Escea EW5000 (above) will do a pretty decent job on a boneless leg of lamb as well as kebabs. While it can be a bit tricky to control the heat and the cooking portion of the evening seems all too brief in comparison with the preparation time, this sense of inefficiency is more than offset by the social interactions that occur around the fire in the time leading up to meal time.
Maybe a woodburning firepit like this will encourage your friends to join in the cooking process:
PLACEMENT AND DESIGN
It may be a good idea to check with your landscaper or designer in terms of what planning or building rules might be applicable to the location, when undertaking a major garden project, but generally, the installation of an outside fireplace doesn't require any permissions in the UK or Ireland. Understandably, there are rules around placement in relation to combustible materials such as yours or your neighbour's house, shed or fence and smoke annoyance.
Gas fireplaces can be considered completely safe and smoke-free. A combination of wooden decks and a woodburning fire might require some creative thought as to how to minimise any risk. (You should also consider things like proximity to your neighbour's washing line or windows to minimise smoke nuisance).
Outdoor gas or bioethanol fires produce no smoke and don't need a flue, but if you're after a wood burning fire, there are some considerations that need to be given to the placement of the chimney, not too close to a neighbours windows or you could be in trouble with the local authority.
The use of a ready-made steel firebox like the EW5000 can be a good idea, as many of these factors have already been accounted for in the design of the unit.
A gas-burning fireplace may not generate quite as much peak heat as a wood-burner, although there are no peaks and troughs of heat as wood does when burning away, meaning you can be more relaxed about the sitting distance from the fire. Burning gas can offer a more consistent heating experience as the heat output will be the same, all evening. Similarly, the nuisance factor of smoke bothering your neighbour is eliminated.
There are also liquid bioethanol-burning units that are small and transportable, offering a soft ambient glow, but a smaller degree of heat than gas.
These can be quite ornamental too and there is an ever-increasing range available, including smaller, tabletop versions. They're a good choice for those who rent or have decked areas and want something to act as a focal point for social gatherings.
A woodburning cooking fireplace can be purchased from £1666 + VAT.
Tabletop bioethanol burners start from as little as £200.
A rendered masonry-based gas fireplace will come in at approximately £4000, dependent on the size and level of detailing. To clad or construct in stone will add some additional cost, but the sky's the limit in terms of what contemporary materials might be used to create a stunning feature.
As always, why not visit our website for up-to-date design ideas and installation downloads.