Turning the area around your pool into a fully-featured outdoor recreation space involves complementing your pool with attractive amenities. One of the most popular backyard additions to come down the pike in recent years is a fire pit. These accessories are ideal for evening gatherings around the pool, offering a relaxing place to dry off in addition to providing a warm, inviting glow to your backyard space.
Even after you’ve closed your pool for the winter, a fire feature can help you enjoy the great outdoors comfortably, giving you a place to unwind and cozy up in your backyard.
Read on for a list of fire feature designs and ideas for your backyard.
Who says fire and water can’t go together? When adding a fire element to your pool area, it’s important to understand the difference between a fire pit and a fire feature.
A fire pit is a stand-alone structure situated away from your pool and confined to a nearby area like a patio or designated spot in your yard. Fire pits can be sunken into the ground or elevated – surrounded by a fire-resistant material such as stone, metal, or brick. Even if you don’t have a pool, you can have a fire pit as a warm and welcoming addition to your outdoor space. It makes a great place to warm up after nighttime swimming, or can be an outdoor gathering spot for roasting s’mores and hanging out during colder weather after you’ve closed your pool for the season.
Fire pits have become a popular backyard feature in recent years, prompting an increase in commercially-available DIY fire pit kits for homeowners to construct their own. However, there are still quite a number of homeowners who opt to have fire pits professionally constructed and installed. These professionally-installed fire pits have a more polished appearance and often have more elaborate details, sometimes built directly into a deck or patio. Conversely, they are more costly. If you’re considering a fire pit in a separate area away from your pool, keep in mind that this can reduce the amount of available backyard space you have to devote to a pool or other areas.
Fire features, however, are incorporated alongside or into your pool, adding illumination and contributing to the overall ambiance of your pool. Fire features must be professionally installed, as they require an underground gas line to be configured in order to work properly. Unlike fire pits, you may need to secure permits from your local building office in order to run a gas line, as well as get permission from your HOA.
Please note that pool fire features need to be decided upon before installing your pool. It can be very difficult to install a fire feature after your pool has been constructed as it’s an invasive, hardscaping feature. If you decide to add a fire feature after your pool has been installed, it may involve a lot of digging that could compromise your pool’s foundation and potentially violate its warranty.
IMPORTANT: A fire feature is not a DIY project and should always be installed by a licensed professional. Fire features that are installed incorrectly or by an unlicensed individual can pose a danger and can also violate the terms of your pool warranty, leaving you stuck with bills that might have otherwise been covered by your manufacturer’s warranty.
Having a fire pit in your backyard traditionally meant a metal ring and a stack of wood. But with today’s options, you’ll have choices when it comes to design and fuels. For traditionalists, there are the tried-and-true wood burning pits, but modern fire pits can also run off propane, gel fuel or natural gas.
Depending on the complexity of the design, you may not be able to DIY your firepit. Professional contractors may be needed to install fuel or electrical lines, to build the structure and decking around the pit, or more. If you’re thinking of a specific design, consider adding it at the same time as a backyard remodel or pool installation so the contractors can build it into the design.
1. Sunken Fire Pit
Most fire pits end up being situated close to the action around the pool, but secluding the fire pit can turn it into a more intimate gathering spot. Planting tall vegetation will keep the loud activity of the pool fun away from a spot for quiet conversation.
A sunken fire pit area surrounded by the pool can also be a unique way to bring swimmers and non-swimmers together around the fire. Lowering the level of the seating area gives the fire pit area a secluded feel, and allows people in the pool a place to set drinks or relax while interacting with those around the fire.
2. Rustic Wood Furniture for a Countryfied Touch – No Matter Where You Live
If the modern farmhouse aesthetic or a backwoods camping (or “glamping”) vibe speaks to you, the right furniture positioned around your fire feature can give you the feel of the country, even if you live in the city.
Complete the look of a rustic, wood-burning fire pit with log-style furniture. Adirondack style chairs provide a woodsy, cabin-like feel – but are often made from durable PVC or composite materials. Opt for chairs that complement the color scheme of your decking and fire pit.
Brick or stone-and-mortar is a classic look, though some manufacturers are beginning to bring kits to market that require no mortar to assemble. These can be customized to bring to life your vision of the perfect fire pit. Brick or stone make a great combination, especially when it comes to wood-burning pits.
3. Natural Gas
Natural gas fire pits lend themselves best to permanent installations. Whether they’re contained in big concrete bowls or longer rectangular pits, the most stunning designs feature stainless steel burners hidden behind colored, crushed glass that gives the flames a dancing, mystical quality, especially at night.
4. Fireplace Upgrade
5. Rocks and Landscaping
To maintain a natural appearance that fits with the natural landscape of your pool area, you can surround it with big rocks. Such an approach gives your fire feature a sophisticated-yet-rustic appearance. Setting the burners in a large brazier or fire bowl surrounded with rock is another approach that elicits conversation, even when the fire isn’t burning.
6. Grill Grates for Additional Functionality
A natural gas or propane fire pit with grill grates that can be placed over the flame can turn your fire pit into an outdoor cooking space. A raised pit with the ability to cook on it that can double as a cooking area creates a natural poolside gathering spot, giving everyone a place to congregate and smell whatever delicious offerings you’re cooking up on the grill!
7. Sleek Modern Take
How do you take something as ancient – and almost primal, in nature – as a firepit and make it work with the trend of sleek modern minimalism? Think in terms of sharp angles and neutral colors to offset your fire feature. This bright white fire feature mirrors the shape of the rectangular pool with its similarly stark white coping. Bold black-and-white striped throw pillows and rectangular outdoor couch complete the look.
8. Enclosed Fire Pit
A fire feature that’s in an enclosed area – such as a three seasons room that faces poolside or under a covered patio – allows you to enjoy sitting fireside in an area that can be enjoyed indoors or outdoors. An enclosed fire feature offers a place to dry off or stay out of the elements, giving greater cover and warmth before venturing back out into the water.
In this instance, symmetry matters – with the enclosed fireplace-style feature sitting in the middle of two raised fire bowls closer to the pool. Two majestic stone eagles frame the fireplace. The result is a well-planned offering that’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is the other senses.
Standalone fire pits are great for sitting around a warm, cozy fire, but fire features take the wow factor to the next level. Fire features, which have purely aesthetic use, can take an ordinary pool and elevate it to high luxury.
Fire features around the pool require professional contractors to install as they require careful and safe maneuvering of fuel lines, electricity, and the structure itself. Installing these is almost always required to be done at the time of a major pool remodel or initial pool installation, since the layout and structure of the pool usually needs to be configured to make room for a fire feature. Contact a pool builder to explore your options
9. Raised Fire Feature
To achieve the ultimate fire and water combination, many people have installed burners along the length of the pool, allowing them to create a slightly raised feature. This can add an intriguing light source to illuminate your pool, while also creating a breathtaking atmospheric effect that feels straight out of an otherworldly grotto.
10. Fire Bowl
Poolside fire features can be in a simple design,raised pit, or you can go for a more dramatic effect. Nothing creates more drama than placing cauldrons along the perimeter of your pool. You can also create an upscale campfire feel by installing a fire feature in the middle of your hot tub, slightly raised above the level of the water.
Adding a fire bowl to your pool would require a professional to install it as most projects require manipulating gas or electrical lines. Doing this yourself can be dangerous, and often violates the terms of your warranty and HOA contracts. It’s best to add a fire feature like this when you’re installing or renovating your pool. Talk to your contractor about your options.
While a backyard fire pit can be a welcome addition to your backyard, it’s important to keep safety top-of-mind. Here are a few fire feature safety tips to keep in mind:
- Enlist the aid of a professional builder. Although fire pit kits are available at home goods stores, there are instances where you may want to recruit a professional builder to install a fire pit for you. For instance, if your fire feature requires gas lines or electrical lines to be configured, hiring a contractor can help you ensure your fire feature meets safety standards.
- Consider safe placement. Install your fire pit on a level spot to avoid it tipping over. Also, place it in an area that is within a safe range – typically, between 10 and 20 feet – away from building structures. This includes your home, a shed, or any gazebo or pergola you may have in your backyard. Avoid placing your fire feature in an area where branches may grow or hang overhead. A stray spark from a fire feature can pose a fire hazard.
- Decking materials matter. If you plan to install a fire feature on your deck, take into account how flammable your decking may be. A wooden deck and fire features are not a good match. Rather, materials such as stone pavers, brick or concrete can be a safer choice. You’ll also want to make sure you remove any grass – particularly dry brush – from beneath your fire area. To enhance safety, make sure your fire feature is surrounded by non-combustible materials like sand, stone or brick to provide a barrier against any leaping flames.
- Be sure your fire feature meets local fire codes. Every town, municipality, or HOA has their own rules and regulations surrounding not only pool use, but the inclusion of backyard features like fire pits. Check with your local building office to be sure your fire feature is compliant and that you have any necessary permits to install and operate it.
- Consider safety features. Outfitting your fire feature with the proper safety accessories can help make it fun for everyone, for all seasons. Invest in such accessories as a fire pit pad and be sure your fire feature has an ash catch tray. Fire bowls with legs often have an ash catch tray, as do pedestal-style pits. Wood burning fire features should also be equipped with a spark screen to prevent stray embers from wafting outwards, potentially causing a fire hazard.
When thinking about adding a pool and various accessories – such as a fire feature – to your backyard, mull over how you want the space used. Will you use your pool area year-round? Do you want your pool to be a focal point, or do you prefer to make it want it to be a more secluded area? If a fire pit plays a role in your vision for your backyard, you’ll also need to consider local ordinances and how they relate to backyard fires.
As a visual consideration, your fire pit should also mirror your pool’s overall design and feel. This can lend more polish and create a more pleasing aesthetic that combines elements of earth, fire, and water in striking harmony. When done right, there’s no limit to the creativity you can express through your backyard pool’s fire feature.