J&S Landscaping has a favorite outdoor feature: the fire pit, sometimes known here in Michigan as the bonfire pit. As you read this blog, you’ll see why we like it so much. Today we’re going to talk about its history, the types of fire pits we offer, and the best fuel sources available.

A Brief History Of The Fire Pit (To Recite While Sitting Around Yours)

Bonfire pits date back to the Paleolithic era. Over the centuries and all around the world, they’ve been used for everything, from cooking, to laundry, to making tools. Bonfire pits were either a hole in the ground (thus the word “pit”) lined with rocks or clay, or a large vented pot encased in metal or stone.

Over time, they gave way to stoves, fireplaces, and other modern tools that were cleaner, easier to use, and didn’t require standing outside in the heat. With modern appliances taking their place, you might think that the lowly bonfire pit might fade from existence, like the washboard or the cotton gin. But while we don’t use it as often as we used to; the bonfire pit remains a useful tool.

This is especially true in recent years. As technology has taken over so much of our lives, telling us when to sleep, when to eat, and what we’re supposed to be doing with our time, people are looking for ways to reconnect with simpler times and one another.

The lowly bonfire pit is no longer lowly. It’s gotten the attention of people from all classes and walks of life as a warm and inviting gathering spot for families and friends. Landscaping companies like J&S Landscaping have seen an uptick in customer requests for different types of fire pits. They are now one of the most requested additions to outdoor living space projects.

And we understand completely. Simply put: bonfire pits are simply cool.

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What the modern-day fire pit is

Though no longer a necessary tool, the modern-day bonfire pit is a gathering place, a conversational piece, and a place of meditation for the person who just wants to be alone. Want to distract your family from technology? Invite them to leave their phones inside and join you at the bonfire pit beneath the stars. Looking to create a little ambiance for a romantic evening with someone special? Build that fire, grab a bottle, a couple of glasses – and a quilt. Want to have an outdoor party at any time of year? Send out the invitations, set out some snack food and light up your bonfire pit for an instant gathering place.

Bonfire pits come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with different types of fuel to choose from, all designed with the homeowner’s preferences and needs in mind. Unlike some of the other equally amazing outdoor living features we offer, this one isn’t dependent on the amount of space you have. Bonfire pits are just as easy to add to a small outdoor living space as they are a larger one. And you can use it year-round!

We know that you have a lot of options when it comes to selecting from the types of fire pits on the market; there are portable fire pits, tabletop fire pits, fire pits built from cement, brick, and paver fire pits with a burner pan.

For our money—and why we choose to build these—the best choice is paver bonfire pits with a burner pan. If maintained properly and covered when not in use, they last and look great the longest. If necessary, after a few years, replacing a burner pan is easily managed by the average home owner, and the pavers we use have a lifetime guarantee with normal use. Concrete is prone to cracking as it settles and brick wears out more quickly.

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Types Of Fuel (And All The Pros And Cons)

Wood

Traditional and timeless, wood-burning fire pits create a rustic atmosphere. They rely on logs or firewood as their fuel source, offering crackling sounds and the distinctive scent of burning wood. If you enjoy building a fire and tending to it as you spend the evening sitting around it, then this is a great option for you.

The Pros

  • Wood burning bonfire pits can be placed anywhere because they aren’t dependent on an attachable fuel source like natural gas.
  • It provides an authentic ambiance reminiscent of a traditional campfire.
  • Unlike the other two fuel sources, a wood burning fire pit allows for cooking over the open flame.
  • This kind of fire pit does not incur any additional costs beyond the initial purchase price. No extra equipment is necessary, unlike gas powered fire pits, which require additional components for efficient operation.

Cons

  • As is to be expected, the fire in this kind of bonfire pit cannot be as easily regulated. Increasing the flame size by adding more wood is easy, but you have to wait for it to burn down if you want a lower flame.
  • Unlike propane or natural gas burning fire pits, a wood burning bonfire pit cannot be easily extinguished. You have to rely on water or some other method of dousing the flames.
  • Care must be taken to ensure that your fire pit is placed away from anything flammable, such as trees.
  • Wood burning bonfire pits produce significant amounts of smoke that can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat.
  • The smoke and ash emitted by the fire also cause discoloration of the bonfire pit, requiring regular maintenance and cleaning. You will need to find a way to dispose of the ashes and partially burned wood.

Wood must be carefully housed so it will be dry and available when you want to use your bonfire pit. You’ll need to consider storing it in a shelter or outdoor box away from the house to discourage pests.

Propane

Propane bonfire pits are an attractive alternative for those who want the flames without the mess.

Pros

  • A propane burning bonfire pit can be placed anywhere you’d place a wood burning fire pit. Propane tanks are easily attached and detached as needed.
  • Unlike wood-burning bonfire pits, there is no mess to clean up when you’re finished. Just turn off the flame, replace the cover, and you’re done.
  • It is easy to control the size of the flame. Just turn the dial up or down, depending on what you want.
  • The propane tanks are easy to find at local propane supply companies and grocery stores. When one is emptied, you can easily return it for a full one.
  • It is a nice heat source during outdoor gatherings.

Cons:

  • The price of propane varies, depending on the time of year and the price of all things gas-related.
  • They do not provide as much warmth as wood-burning bonfire pits.
  • Unlike a bonfire pit that relies on wood, you cannot cook over a standard propane bonfire pit without running the risk of damaging the elements.
  • Though it’s a minor annoyance, it will be important to check for potential leaks each time you use your bonfire pit.
  • Extra propane tanks must be stored carefully, preferably away from the main house, to prevent exposure to fumes should the tank leak.

Natural Gas

Of the types of fire pits we offer, natural gas is probably the most popular choice in homes where it is available. This style of bonfire pit presents the fewest disadvantages. But the ones it does present should definitely be considered carefully.

Pros

  • Unless you have constant access to wood on your own land, natural gas is probably going to remain cheaper than other fuel choices.
  • It is safe and easy to use with little risk of fire.
  • It requires little maintenance, as there is little residue, unlike wood.
  • If protected from the elements when not in use, natural gas fueled bonfire pits have a longer life than the other options.
  • As long as you keep it covered, the only clean up needed before use is a quick wipe out from time to time.
  • Because it’s a permanent addition to your home and yard, a carefully installed propane bonfire pit will increase the value of your home. Home buyers love to find places that already have features they would want to add on their own later on.

Cons:

  • You must have a natural gas supply running to your home.
  • The installation of the natural gas fire pit is more expensive than other options.
  • The placement of the fire pit will be limited by the location of the gas line.
  • As with propane, you cannot cook anything over a natural gas fire pit without risking damage to the elements.
  • It puts out less heat than propane and wood and won’t offer the same cozy sensation during cold weather.
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Want To Know More About The Types Of Fire Pits We Offer?

As you can see, each of the types of fire pits we offer present several pros and cons. But in the long run, the over all advantages of having a fire pit, regardless of the fuel type you choose, are substantial. This feature is worth every penny you will spend on it. Your return will be years of enjoyment and many hours with family and friends.

J&S Landscaping is here for you and your business! We are a member of the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association. Our company provides top-notch lawn care and support for plants, trees, and shrubs. And everything we purchase and plant for you has a one-year guarantee.

J&S Landscaping is certified by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute to install paver patios & walkways, brick paver driveways, retaining walls and more. And we are also an authorized contractor for Belgard. J&S is so confident of our work that we certify our installations for two years. All of our crews are carefully trained, certified, and bonded.

Call today to learn more about what our company can do for you!