Installing outdoor fire features | Irrigation and Green Industry Magazine – Irrigation & Green Industry magazine

Installing outdoor fire features | Irrigation and Green Industry Magazine – Irrigation & Green Industry magazine

What is it that draws us to want to sit around the soothing flames of a roaring fire? It must be something that’s coded into our DNA, a throwback to our cave-dwelling ancestors gathering around a blaze, enjoying a barbecue compliments of the latest hunt.

Design/build contractors who create outdoor living spaces are well acquainted with our innate desire to gather around the orange glow of a blazing fire. Many of these spaces will include a fireplace, fire pit or bowl, tiki torches, or one of the newest and coolest hot things out there, the fire table.

Fire pits and fire features are part of the red-hot outdoor living trend. “Millennials, in particular, like the outdoors, and they want their homes to have a seamless flow from the inside to the outside,” says Joey S. Shimek, vice president of sales at The Outdoor GreatRoom Company, Burnsville, Minnesota. “And people who live in the more northern states want to extend their short summers as long as possible.”

(Photo: Oklahoma Landscape Inc.)

There are four major types of fire features: fireplaces, usually built as part of an outdoor living room; fire pits or bowls, freestanding units that sit on or are dug into patios; tiki torches; and fire tables that sit at dining height, with room for plates and cups with a long, narrow stream of fire running down the center.

Shimek says, before installing a fire feature for a client, a contractor should ask the client a few questions — such as what’s the primary use going to be? Are they going to want to place glasses or dinner plates around it, or do they just want something warm to sit around and enjoy? What sort of space is available? What sort of décor does the outdoor room have, so the feature can be made to blend in with it?

Regardless of where a fire feature is on a client’s wish list, the contractors who install them agree that they’re hot commodities. Ed Geneser, who handles design and sales at Country Landscapes Inc., Iowa City, Iowa, says “A lot of our customers come to us with the fire feature as their number one priority and not as part of a larger project.”

Just the opposite has been true for Aaron Wiltshire, owner and president of Oklahoma Landscapes Inc., Tulsa, and a veteran outdoor room contractor. “Very rarely do we get a call where someone says, ‘I just want a fire feature, and I want it right here on my existing patio,’” he says. “Even if someone just wants a fire pit, it’s usually a part of a larger patio extension.”

A range of products to fit any budget

Fire pits and fire features are within the reach of just about everyone. “A wood-burning fire pit without natural gas plumbed to it could be had in the $1,500 range,” says Wiltshire. “Or, they could buy a fire pit or fireplace kit that I would install for them — that’s a lower-cost option.” Something as nice as the large, linear (rectangular) granite-clad feature he recently installed for someone cost around $12,000.

Geneser says younger buyers tend to gravitate toward fire pits. “They’…….


Fireplace installers