Of course, a fire pit can be had without spending top dollar. Because styles, sizes, and materials abound, your choices should be based on your space at hand, budget and, of course, local ordinances.
Here’s what else to consider before planning a fire pit and dreaming of cool, moonlit nights with some s’mores:
How much to spend. Costs can be as low as $100 if you plan for a small fire pit, buy your own stones and dig the hole yourself; or if you purchase a simple unit at a big box store. But they certainly can also go up to several thousand dollars, especially when seating is added.
Permanent vs. portable. A good way to begin planning is to think in terms of permanence. Do you want a fire pit that is built in — a focal point in the yard — or something that’s lightweight and potentially portable, so you can take it where you want your gathering?
For a built-in design, you generally want to match materials in or round the area. You can do a DIY job and assemble materials yourself; go with a pre-made kit from a big box store that comes with everything you need; or go fully custom, with a landscape professional or contractor doing the design and building it.
The options for portable fire pits are equally varied. There are fire bowls that come in a variety of materials — copper or stainless steel bowls are usually lighter, but heavier cast iron bowls also do a nice job of radiating heat. Fire tables are similar to bowls, but are often made at coffee table height. There are also chimney-style options (freestanding pieces with a chimney-style vent) that come in a range of materials.
Regardless of which way you go, make it proportional to the size of your yard, and be sure you have room for seating and circulation.
What to set it on. It’s best to set a set a portable fire pit atop a natural surface such as concrete, stone, gravel, brick, slate, or a fire-resistant composite, the experts say. Putting it on a wood deck can be dangerous if embers fly. A permanent fire pit is typically built on a base of gravel somewhere in the back yard.