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If you are planning a fire feature for your patio or backyard area, you may be stuck between choosing a fire pit or a fireplace. Both give off light, warmth and help create a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. As far as backyard design ideas go, fire pits and fireplaces are amazing investments. Not only do they raise the value of your property, but they also provide endless opportunities for backyard barbecues and act as focal points for any outdoor space. Before choosing you’ll first want to evaluate your location. Fire pits and fireplaces don’t need a ton of space but you want to make sure that the area is free of any overhanging branches or obstacles. Safety first!

While cost can be the deciding factor (fireplaces are bigger investments), here are some factors to consider:

Fire Pit

Fire pits are very easy to use. They fit any look or feel you like to work seamlessly with an existing patio or furniture. This situation is especially great for families with children or people who like to entertain, and who want to spend a lot of time around the fire enjoying each other’s company. Think about roasting S’mores!

While no chimney is necessary, fire pits can produce a lot of smoke. They are generally installed as a permanent patio feature, and the location is very important to ensure that the smoke is directed where you want it to go. Working with a landscape designer/architect to ensure your fire pit is positioned in the right place is a smart idea.

If you are looking for a very interactive fire feature then a fire pit might be the right choice for you. It tends to be a good fit for families with children who envision themselves spending a lot of time around the fire.


A fireplace is designed so that you and your guests will primarily sit in front of it as opposed to around it. They take up less space than a fire pit as they’re usually built around the perimeter of your patio. This creates a more sophisticated ambiance as well as warmth. There are many options for fireplace design, and they can make an elegant architectural statement as well as serve as a focal point in your yard or outdoor space.

The smoke must be directed up and out of a chimney, though can be used even in inclement weather when incorporated into a covered patio design, such as with a pavilion or pergola. Your fireplace can even be designed with a TV mounted to it.

If you’re thinking more about a fire feature in terms of ambiance and elegance then perhaps an outdoor fireplace is the better choice. A fireplace isn’t quite the same interactive experience as the open fire of a fire pit, but it still gives you heat and ambiance.

Final Word

When choosing a fireplace or fire pit we recommend a site evaluation and design plan. With planning and the guidance of a landscape architect or designer, you can plan the perfect outdoor fireplace for your backyard. You’ll be able to see where that fireplace fits into the whole picture. If you’ve been wondering about how to explore the potential of your backyard, please contact one of our landscape architects to schedule a phone consultation.