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What’s the Difference Between a Fire Pit and an Outdoor Fireplace?

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

outdoor fireplace

Your Wichita Hardscape Design Sets the Tone for Your Backyard Oasis

The crackling of a warm fire extends your use of your backyard well into the cooler months and creates a gorgeous focal point for your hardscape landscaping and patio area.

When we design hardscaping, our clients often ask us for a fire feature, but there are multiple to choose from. Let’s explore the difference between a fire pit and an outdoor fireplace and how they burn, so when it’s time to upgrade your outdoor space, you know exactly what you want.

Gas-Powered or Wood Burning?

Either an outdoor fireplace or fire pit can burn wood or gas. Before you decide which fixture you want, determine the fuel type you’re most comfortable with.

A gas-burning fire pit or outdoor fireplace allows you to quickly get a fire going - in mere seconds - and keeps the flame going consistently and continuously. You won’t need to dig deep into your brain for your Boy Scouts skills to remember how to build and stoke a fire.

Gas burners also burn cleanly and are virtually maintenance free. Because of the safety of burning gas, you can place it almost anywhere, including closer to your house, because it is considered an appliance. As such, it’s less of a fire hazard than a wood-burning unit.

A wood-burning fire pit or outdoor fireplace is more affordable to purchase outright, and there’s no need to run gas lines. Wood-burning units are also much faster to install.

Many homeowners prefer wood-burning units because it feels cozier, like being gathered around a campfire. You get the classic fireplace smell from wood-burning pits, too, to really set the scene for a cool evening outdoors.

Focal Point or Low-Profile Addition?

Your Wichita, KS, hardscape design should have a focal point. And if you want that focal point to be your fire feature, an outdoor fireplace will make you happiest. Much like indoor fireplaces, their outdoor brethren feature a taller chimney and surrounding hardscaping to draw the eye straight to it.

A fire pit, on the other hand, is low to the ground, generally not taller than two feet, and doesn’t interrupt the flow of your vision around your backyard getaway.

The Benefits of an Outdoor Fireplace in Your Hardscape Landscaping

Just as you’d gather around the fireplace indoors, you do the same with an outdoor fireplace. Its flame faces one direction, and most people arrange seating around that. Because of this layout, an outdoor fireplace actually takes up less space on your patio than a fire pit does.

An elegantly designed stone fireplace provides incredible ambiance to your seating area, while directing smoke straight up, out of the faces of your guests. And because it’s a taller, stone structure, it can be used to block wind from whipping through your patio or pergola.

Outdoor fireplaces can be completely custom-built for your space; the addition of a wood-storage cubby is handy for wood-burning outdoor fireplaces, for example. And if yours is under a covered area, you can even mount a television at mantle-height for more outdoor entertainment options.

The Benefits of a Fire Pit

A fire pit is a hit, especially with a younger or outdoorsy crowd, who love the interactivity of sitting around one. You can make eye contact across the fire with all your guests, and even roast marshmallows or hot dogs as a family, with everyone in their own space.

Fire pits are ideal for larger gatherings, because there’s more access to the fire itself, and because a pit can be any shape or size you desire, it is completely customized to your outdoor entertaining area. You can even add built-in seating around it, so you don’t have to worry about collecting lawn chairs or patio furniture for everyone on your guest list.

A fire pit, even a gas-powered one, is more budget-friendly than a gas-friendly outdoor fireplace. So if you want to dedicate your hardscaping budget elsewhere, a fire pit is an easy choice.

Contact Meadowlark for Hardscape Design in Wichita, KS

Meadowlark Landscape & Design is so much more than a lawn care company - although we do that, too. We offer comprehensive landscaping services, including consultations with our staff landscape designer, so we can take care of absolutely everything for you in your little piece of the great outdoors.

Contact us for all your landscape design needs and for lawn care near you - and be sure to get started on your backyard plans today!

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