Two landscape essentials in the PNW: covered porch and firepit. Luckily, our home came with a wrap around deck for enjoying the outdoors even when it’s raining. We added a propane firepit and sundeck years ago and while the sundeck is less used, the firepit has become an essential. Summer evenings in the garden are synonymous with s’mores and conversation around the fire. Whether rowdy or low key, a party naturally gravitates toward the firepit about the time the bats change places with the swallows.
I argue that in cool climates, fire is more compelling than water. Thus, if you have to chose between the two, a firepit trumps a water feature.
This year we replaced the steel propane fire ring—two connected, concentric rings of stainless pipe that are pocked with evenly spaced holes so that propane releases around it uniformly. I installed the original fire ring at the base of our stone-faced, brick pit back in 2003. It had corroded to where the propane rushed out in plumes from the center and the flames were no longer distributed to the outside ring. Despite the fact that our pit is covered when not in use by a stainless cover, there’s plenty of soil moisture coming up through the base of sand underneath to cause corrosion.
I prefer propane over wood burning firepits for several reasons. First is ease. With the turn of a key and a click of a lighter, the flames roar. While some may enjoy the process of building and lighting a fire, I do not. Nor do I like to chop firewood. Propane is clean burning and allows one to sit around the fire all night without moving to avoid a choking cloud of smoke or smelling as if having fought a brushfire. Then when the party dwindles, it only takes a second to turn off the fire. No extinguishing the embers and no ashes to clean up. Our home is plumbed with propane, but a portable tank can be shared between a BBQ and a firepit.
The main value of a firepit is, whether wood-burning or propane, that it allows us to say “long live summer”, even when summer is short lived.
© Colleen Miko, 2011