Bring warmth to that outdoor entertainment space. Now that the holidays have passed, Old Man Winter has set in and the shock of all the credit card bills is just now beginning to diminish, it’s time to start thinking about your landscape again. You know that barren wasteland of which a glimpse is caught now and again through a frosty window. The summer barbecues, family parties and relaxing sunsets are now all just a fond memory. An outdoor entertainment space doesn’t have to be left vacant during the winter months. Just how we turn up the thermostat inside when a chill is in the air, warmth can also be brought outside to make these spaces enjoyable and functional with the use of fire. This is no secret because fire has been warming souls and bringing people together since the beginning of time. It’s today’s applications and uses to harness this primeval element which makes it easily added to any outdoor environment.

FIREPLACES, By far the stateliest way to incorporate a warm glow is a fireplace. They are typically the main focal point of a home’s family/living area and will bring that similar aesthetic value to an outdoor patio space. These structures are available in kits for ease of installation or can be custom designed to fit specific needs. Natural stone, clay brick or manufactured block and veneer are all available options for the construction of these features. The incorporation of solid stone mantels and hearths (as of their interior counterparts) even add to their beauty and functionality. Imagine pulling the patio chairs up close and enjoying a hot cup of coffee or your favorite cigar while gazing into the flames of your outdoor fireplace.

FIREPIT. The firepit is where it all began and has evolved from the metal bowls on legs (which usually rusted out after a few years) to the permanent works of art built directly into the patio itself. They can be constructed from all the same materials/kits as mentioned above with the fireplaces. Circles, squares, rectangles and hexagons are amongst the geometric shapes these firepits can take. A few advantages of a firepit vs. fireplace are that there is a 360-degree viewing angle, not to mention taking up far less space. Oh, I almost forgot, the price tag is at least 20 percent of a fireplace. Though they may not possess the grandeur of a fireplace there is nothing better than gathering around a firepit with children and grandchildren roasting marshmallows and telling stories.

INFRARED HEATERS. More and more you see business establishments (restaurants, bars, event venues) using infrared heaters within their outdoor spaces to increase use time and provide added comfort to patrons. There are now many options which are available on the residential scale for use by homeowners. Compact and engineered to fit into virtually any area, they provide warmth to where it is needed most. This is key in today’s efforts to conserve energy and reduce your carbon footprint. Although they are typically mounted above, the heat originates at the floor zone below and then rises. This is exactly how the infrared rays emitted by the sun work as they are reflected off of the Earth’s surface. It only seems right to heat your patio area the same way the sun has been doing it for the past 4.6 billion years.

Whether it be wood burning, natural gas or propane used to fuel your inferno, fire has always proven to be a part of our lives in one form or another and should be respected. Careful planning is a must before implementing any of these as many construction codes and permits apply to their location and use. A licensed contractor with experience in their design and installation should only be considered.

I believe Jim Morrison said it best—“Come on baby, light my fire!”

Michael Pasquarello is a degreed landscape architect with Elite Landscaping. Email him at MPasquarello@EliteLandscaping.com or call (856) 753-1944. Visit EliteLandscaping.com for more information.