Design & Decor - Garden Decor

Cosy up the garden with an outdoor fireplace

Natalie Bahadur

Sleek, stylish and contemporary, outdoor fireplaces are a growing trend in backyard design

Maintenance and bylaws
Much like swimming pools, outdoor fireplaces require care and attention and different models require different levels of maintenance. “Dealing with ashes, wood piles and slivers are a reality of having a natural-burning fireplace,” says Arthur. “If that sounds like too much labour, natural gas is so simple these days. Turn it on, enjoy it and turn it off when you're done. So simple!” And you mustn’t forget about municipal bylaws governing the use of open-flame burning. Do your research before you invest in an outdoor fireplace as local bylaws may influence your decision. “Don't assume that because a major retailer has it for sale, it makes it suitable for your backyard,” Arthur cautions.

Five tips for adding an outdoor fireplace to your backyard
An outdoor fireplace is a big decision—it’s a financial investment and requires time to install and effort to maintain. But sitting outside on a crisp fall night, bathing in the soft glow of a fire can make it all worthwhile. Before you take the plunge, Arthur suggests heeding these helpful hints:

1. Look up... way up. Make sure that the area above an outdoor fireplace is free of tree limbs or anything combustible.

2. Don't place a fire pit on a deck. Even though heat rises, the bottom of a fireplace can get hot enough to start a fire. I like to use gravel or cement blocks underneath to help diffuse the heat.

3. Sparks and flying embers will happen with a natural fireplace even if you have a grate or screen. Make sure that you allow enough space for your guests to sit back if they need to.

4. If you don't want to smoke out your neighbours, try burning hardwoods like oak or maple. Hardwoods burn slower, put out more heat and produce less smoke than some of the more decorative options like paper birch.

5. Make sure you have comfortable seating around the fire. I'm not a fan of sitting on logs for more than 30 minutes!

Check out four outdoor fireplace picks on the following pages!

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