A fire feature makes a fabulous focal point for any garden. While a purpose-built outdoor fireplace or firepit offers the ultimate in outdoor heating, buying off-the-peg is a great alternative.
Perfect your outdoor space with our garden ideas
We explore all the options here, so you can create a feature that will allow you to enjoy your outdoor space, come rain, shine or even snow. Check out the best fire pits for more options.
What are the best options for an outdoor fireplace?
1. Fire baskets
A basic wood-burning fire basket or brazier requires little set-up and is contained in an open basket, so air circulates freely and the fire burns more efficiently. This is often the most affordable route to a garden fireplace.
Firepits contain the heat source in a raised bowl, with designs ranging from simple portable metal bowls, to larger firepits with add-on grills or tiled surrounds.
3. Wood burners
Freestanding wood-burners feature a flue that directs smoke up and away from guests, with heat radiating in one direction. Styles vary from modern metal or cast-iron designs to Mexican-style clay chimeneas.
4. Fireplace walls
The ultimate option is a built-in wall fire, set a seating height for maximum effect.
Where can I buy an outdoor fireplace?
Dobbies stocks a variety of styles at a range of price points, from basic portable fire bowls to top-of-the-range freestanding fireplaces. Firepits UK’s range includes ovens and firepits, plus all the essentials, from tools and utensils, to cooking racks, covers and kindling.
Paloform’s handcrafted contemporary firepits are fabulous statement pieces in architectural concrete and weathered steel. Urban Fires are another good option if you're looking for a wall fire.
Which materials can an outdoor fire be made from?
Stainless steel is easy to clean and rain and rust-resistant, but can be pricey. Steel is less expensive but more prone to rusting, unless it’s powder-coated. Corten steel is a good option – otherwise know as weathering steel, it forms a stable, rusted orange appearance over time and looks beautiful when contrasted with a wall in dark grey or navy.
Stone and cast iron are robust but hefty to move, so it’s worth investing in a protective cover if you leave it out all year.
Is wood-burning the only option?
Most firepits burn solid fuel – wood with a lower moisture content such as kiln-dried logs or wood briquettes gives off less smoke, while charcoal gives a longer burn time so is cost-effective. Clean-burning bio-ethanol or gel firepits are another option.
If you live in a smokeless zone, you must use smokeless fuel. For a list of what you can burn, visit smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk/fuels.
What extra features should I look for?
More inspiration: Garden seating ideas for your outdoor living room
Useful accessories include a mesh screen to keep embers from flying, a wood grate to allow better air flow and grills or hotplates for cooking on. Fire tables with built-in surrounds, either tiled or stone, give a handy resting surface for drinks if you’re entertaining.
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Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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