There’s something about sitting around a fireplace or bonfire pit that sparks conversation, laughter and feelings of camaraderie. Adding a fire feature to your patio not only extends outdoor living into the cooler months of the year with warmth and light, it ups the ambiance when you’re entertaining guests. A patio fire pit or an outdoor fireplace can also add value to your home.

Our landscaping experts can advise you on how best to design your outdoor fire source and where to place it to take advantage of your home’s natural surroundings, your available space and proximity to neighbors.

Fireplace or Bonfire Pit?

They both are great additions to your landscape so it’s important to think about what you want from your heat source. 

Bonfire Pit

Do you envision friends and family gathered around a bonfire pit, roasting marshmallows and telling stories? A bonfire pit can be more interactive because of its circular design. However, a bonfire pit can take up valuable patio space, something to consider if yours is fairly small.


A fireplace can make for more intimate gatherings, because seating is more directly in front of it. In addition, a fireplace can take up less patio space because it can be built at the edge of it. If you already have a stone wall or pavilion of sorts, it can be built to match its surroundings, adding elegance while adding light and warmth.

And if you can’t decide between the two – or have multiple needs – opt for both a fire pit and a fireplace. In this case, the fireplace is placed on the edge of the patio and is quite functional with its oven on top. The fire pit is placed so family and guests can enjoy the lake’s view. 

Gas or Wood?

Your outdoor fire source can be fueled by wood, gas or propane. What you decide to use is strictly determined by your personal preference and aesthetics.

Some people want only wood to fuel their fire pit because it’s a natural source.  The smoky smell, the crackling sounds of the burning logs evoke feelings of campfires and coziness. But smoke in the eyes and stoking the flames can be a deterrent for some.

A gas bonfire is safe and easy to use – just flip a switch to start it and control the flame. A gas line running from your home is the source but that can add some expense to the cost of your fire pit or fireplace. If you use propane, you’ll have an attached tank, which might not look as pretty as you’d like.

Seating and Bonfire Pit Proportions

When it comes to making people comfortable around the fire, try built-in seating such as this circular arrangement. The base of the stone seating here matches the base of the patio fire pit, lending continuity between the two. One benefit of built-in seating or heavy chairs is that it prevents people from getting too close to the fire, an important consideration with children.

The terra cotta bullnose tiles that form the outer edge of this fire pit are wide enough to serve as a space to hold drinks and other small items and echoes the nearby circular seating. It’s also wide enough to keep people away from the hot stones and gas flame.

Take care not to make the pit too high, especially if you’re using wood for fuel. If children have to lean forward to roast a marshmallow or the fire tender needs to reach in to add logs, the flames can be a safety hazard.

Design Around Your Surroundings

When designing your patio and fire pit or fireplace, keep in mind your surroundings. With possible winds blowing off the water, a sunken fire pit makes sense in this case. And the circular wall behind the seats protects the flames from breezes in the other direction. All the while, the light and warmth of the fire will continue to bring enjoyment to those sitting around it.

Hire a professional

A fireplace or fire pit can add beauty and functionality and extend your outdoor living past the summer season. But like any big project, there’s a lot involved in designing and building them to make them safe, attractive and practical.

At J&S Landscaping, we work with you to bring your project ideas to life. Contact us with your questions or to set up a consultation. 

Need inspiration? Visit our design gallery.