Jump-start the patio season with a wood-burning or gas-fueled fire pit
Remember how much fun it was to gather round the campfire and sleep under the stars? With one of these fire pits, you can rekindle that old feeling for a fraction of the cost of an outdoor fireplace and without having to do a lick of work besides taking it out of the box and setting it up. These instant hearths let you stretch your outdoor living season from spring to fall. Unlike the campfires of yore, portable pits come in numerous styles and materials to suit your home's architecture and burn a variety of fuels, including wood, propane, and gel. So bust out the marshmallows, get comfy, and rejoice in knowing that when the last embers die, you can retreat indoors, to the softness of your very own bed.
Get the most bang for your buck with a combo fire pit and weenie roaster. The hood of this recycled copper chiminea can be turned upside down to support a chrome-coated grill (included). About $450, Unique Arts
To keep your backyard soirees going all night, look for an extra-large-capacity burner, like this hand-hammered copper pit. Its deep, 40-inch-wide basin can easily hold a
pile of 2-foot logs.
About $299, Frontgate
Bring the casual cheer of a beach bonfire to your patio with a colorful, 181⁄2-inch-
high ceramic fire ring filled
with clear tumbled glass.
concrete base has a hose
for connecting to a propane or natural-gas source. About $900,
California Outdoor Concepts
A weather-resistant eucalyptus table with a blazing centerpiece keeps hot cider warm and within reach. The firebox holds
a set of ceramic logs
that burn an odor-free,
About $399, Real Flame
On a dark night, this black steel ball will give the illusion of flames floating in air. The all-over mesh body that allows for
an unobstructed view
and 360-degree warmth
also keeps embers
from escaping. About $215, Landmann, available at CSN Stores
Before you buy a fire pit, consider what you're going to burn in it (and check with your local fire department to see what's allowed in your area).
Wood> Sold by the cord (128 cubic feet) or face cord (66 cubic feet), wood is generally the least expensive option, costing about $1.50 per blaze.
Propane> Efficient and
clean-burning, propane costs
a little over $2 per fire. You need to store the tanks of flammable liquid safely in a cool, outdoor spot and clean your pit regularly to get rid of debris and soot that can clog burners.
Natural Gas> Gas lets
you connect your pit straight to a permanent fuel supply.
Ignition is instantaneous,
and a 2-hour fire will cost
you about $5.
Alcohol-based Gel> Touted as more efficient than wood and more eco-friendly than gas or propane, alcohol-based gels are sold by select fire pit manufacturers for about $3 per can. A can lasts about
3 hours. Most pits, though, need more than one can.