Outdoor Fire Pit Landscaping Ideas
An outdoor fire pit can be a relaxing addition to a landscape.
Something is appealing about sitting in your back yard on a chilly fall evening and roasting marshmallows beside the fire pit. Although you may use it most often after dark, when it’s difficult to see much about the landscaping, the fire pit can serve as a focal point in your landscape design. Choose living elements carefully to ensure floating embers from the fire pit don’t have places nearby to start fires.
Kill all the grass and other plants in a 7-foot radius around the fire pit. Unlike outdoor fireplaces, fire pits don’t have much protection from wind, and their embers tend to float away on breezes. Either spray the area with an all-purpose chemical herbicide such as glyphosate or pour boiling water over the area. Wait 24 hours, and reapply the herbicide or boiling water if the grass and plants aren’t withering and turning brown.
Dig out the soil around the fire pit to a depth of about 2 to 4 inches, removing all the dead plants and grass. Clear an area at least 7 feet outward from the fire pit on all sides. If you used boiling water as your herbicide, place the soil and dead vegetation in a compost pile; break up clumps with a steel rake, and turn the new compost material in with the old compost material. If you used an all-purpose chemical herbicide, put the soil and dead vegetation in plastic bags; that soil and dead vegetation should not be introduced into your compost pile in part because the chemical herbicide can damage plants and change the soil’s pH when the compost is used. Never use in vegetable gardens compost that includes matter treated with a chemical herbicide; that will help to ensure you don’t consume any of the herbicide.
Cut landscape fabric or plastic with a utility knife, and use it to line the area you dug out. Attach it around the area’s edges by hammering landscape staples through the fabric or plastic every 6 inches.
Cover the landscape fabric or plastic with a non-flammable material of your choice, such as river rocks, gravel, brick or stone pavers. If you use stone pavers, spread silica sand on top of them, and use a broom to push the sand into the cracks between the pavers to help hold the pavers securely in place.
Add seating around your fire pit. Large stones double as seating and a way to bring another natural element to your landscaping. Wooden benches or Adirondack chairs make a comfortable and attractive option, but keep them at least 3 feet from the fire pit.
Place terracotta, metal or ceramic planters around the edges of the fire pit’s cleared area. Fill the planters with blooming annual plants, which don’t tend to be as flammable as perennial shrubs and grasses. Change the flowers each season to keep the area looking fresh and interesting.
Things You Will Need
- All-purpose chemical herbicide (optional)
- Measuring tape
- Steel rake (optional)
- Plastic bags (optional)
- Landscape fabric or plastic
- Utility knife
- Landscape staples
- River rocks, gravel, brick or stone pavers
- Silica sand (optional)
- Large stones, wooden benches or chairs
- Terracotta, metal or ceramic planters
- Annual plants
- Potting soil
- Define a walkway to your fire pit using the same ground cover that surrounds the fire pit, such as river rocks, gravel, brick or stone pavers. Line the walkway with decorative grasses or blooming annual plants.
- Before starting a fire in the fire pit, sweep the area around it to remove dead twigs and/or fallen leaves that could easily catch fire if touched by floating embers.
- Keep a bucket of water, garden hose attached to a faucet or fire extinguisher near the fire pit to put out the fire quickly if the weather becomes windy. Use the fire pit only when no or little breeze is present; doing so will help to keep embers from flying.
- Place your fire pit away from large trees. No overhanging branches should be within 10 feet of a fire pit, even branches that are 20 feet or more above the ground. Wind can carry embers high enough to light trees’ low and upper branches.