Magazine article Sunset

Campfires at Home: On Summer Evenings, a Backyard Firepit Is the Perfect Gathering Spot for Family and Friends

Magazine article Sunset

Campfires at Home: On Summer Evenings, a Backyard Firepit Is the Perfect Gathering Spot for Family and Friends

Article excerpt

Spending an evening by a crackling fire under a starry sky is one of the pleasures of summer in the West, especially when warm days dissolve into chilly nights. But you don't have to travel hundreds of miles to a favorite camping spot to huddle around a flickering fire--you can bring a firepit into your own backyard.

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There are lots of choices, from built-in firepits edged with stone and fueled by gas to simple, portable copper or steel types just big enough for a couple of logs. Here's what to look for.

An aboveground firepit, surrounded by low (18-24-in.-tall) walls made of stone, rock, concrete, or other nonflammable building material, is certainly the most expensive option. But it is a permanent garden element, handsome and useful whether or not there is a fire going. When topped by a wide ledge, such walls provide seating--perfect perches for roasting marshmallows. The surrounding walls also offer an extra element of safety for wood-fueled fires, which can send up sparks. Large metal or concrete containers can also be converted into permanent firepits fueled by logs or gas.

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Inground firepits capture the magic of wilderness campfires. They can be as casual as depressions in the soil edged with rocks, or they can be lined with concrete for a more finished look.

Portable firepits (like the one at bottom right) are popular for their ease of use and flexibility. You can enjoy them at home or take them on a picnic or to the beach, where permitted. Firepits sold in home-and-garden mail-order catalogs are generally made of copper; they range from 27 to 40 inches wide and typically cost $120 to $300. Steel and other heat-resistant containers are also available. Portable firepits are fueled by wood or compressed logs.

Firepit safety

Having an open flame in your backyard calls for safety and courtesy: Situate the firepit away from flammables such as dry grasses and where smoke won't bother neighbors. …

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