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Landscape Design and Construction with Fireplaces and Fire Pits

Fireplaces make a great focal point in landscape design. The southwest standard beehive, the mission style, manor style or maybe a combination of two or even three is what you are looking for. Landscape design and construction need to work very closely as these structures get complicated. This has to do with double sided fireplaces, using the fireplace as a structural support for roof or pergola or even making it dual purpose, meaning the use is both for heat and cooking. At times the hearth can be at a different level on one side and another at the opposite side.

Personally I am a big fan of two sided fireplaces where the open hearth is on two sides. The most complicated one that I designed was open on two sides and each side was at a different height. To make the landscape design and construction even more challenging the fireplace stack was used as a support for a pergola. This was a collaboration of an architect and structural engineer. It was built in The city of Scottsdale and the city required an architects’ stamp on the plans.

I also designed a fireplace that was under a solid roof Ramada. This also was in the city of Scottsdale. The property was designated at a town house. The flute needed to be five feet off the property line and ten feet off the home. Keep in mind that every foot that the structure went above six feet the fireplace needs to come into the property line one more foot. The way around this was use a self venting fireplace that was labeled as an appliance. You can see how landscape design and construction may need to be creative as well in order to pass city permitting..

I also like two sided beehive fireplaces built on up against a spa. Having the hearth on the water’s edge is cool. Imagine sitting in the spa and the fire going so that when you get out and walk behind it and never get even a chill. Ah life is good. Because of the size cmu block 8 x 8 x 8 used when building a beehive fireplace the materials cost is higher than when build a unit that is squarer. A few contractors have told me that beehive fireplaces tend to show cracks. This is not a theory I support.

Most of the fireplaces I design are closer to the Mission or Manor style. That just seems to be what most homeowners lean toward in landscape design and construction.

Many times a homeowner will tell me they want a fireplace when in reality they mean a fire pit. Fire pits can be round, square and boomerang shaped. Should it be about ground or even ground level?

I am a big fan of fire pots also. They can be place below grade, at grade or on top of an inverted pot or block. Landscape design and construction does not need to be expensive. Many times homeowners do projects like fire pots on their own. They can be purchased at retail outlets such as Phoenix Precast in Phoenix.

Landscape design and construction can another step deeper. Another thought is using sand, lava rock, feather rock, logs or glass in your fireplace or fire pit. I will start with my least favorite which is lava rock, it just seems so 70′s. Feather rock looks similar to lava rock until the fire starts to burn. It seems to be more dancing like when using glass then when lava rock burns. Logs are unbeaten when you want that campfire sent or if you are relying on electricity for your experience. Logs are so very common in the appliance fireplace. Sand and glass are my favorite. They both make the fire really dance. The glass also takes things one step further by adding colors.

Landscape design and construction of fireplaces and fire pits can get even more involved then what I am pointing out here, but this should get you thinking about your alternatives and options.

Let me know your comments on this.


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