Kick up the fire and watch the flames dance
photography Erin Little | styling Janice Dunwoody
The owners created the foundation for this pit by digging out a small round area in his backyard and adding some rocks. To build each “single use” fire, he first lays a flat fire in the center of the rock bed. Once that’s going, they place a large, hollowed-out log on top. Voila! The fire shoots up through the log to create a fountain of flames that is esthetically beautiful, self-contained and self-extinguishing since the log burns to the ground within 8-12 hours.
The location was chosen for its proximity to the owner's patio; close enough to the outdoor dining and sitting areas to add warmth and ambiance.
The pit was organically designed over the course of two weekends through a process of trial and error. They found a piece of poured cement in their back woods, which became the inspiration for the design. With two friends, they used a tractor to drag the cement from the woods to use as the center of the pit. They prepped the area by digging out an irregularly shaped hole and lining it with gravel to allow the fire pit to drain. Placing the oyster shell-shaped cement in the center of the hole, they drilled holes in its base, then surrounded it with rocks also found in the woods. When they were satisfied with the arrangement of the rocks, they filled in the gaps with leftover aggregate from a friend’s landscaping firm.
This is an all-season fire pit. In the summertime, it gets used most weekends—especially by their teenage daughter, who likes to put cushions by the fire and roast marshmallows with friends.
The fire pit has even been used to prepare a lobster bake by placing a metal table with seaweed over the fire to steam the lobster.
Natural Rock Ledge Pit
The backyard ledge of this property was covered with dirt, which the owners exposed as part of their landscape design. Some of the unearthed rocks served as the foundation for their fire pit.
A Come Along winch was used to drag a huge, flat rock from the woods that was the perfect size for the “roof” of the pit. The owners have reworked the pit four times to improve upon it. When it became too smoky, they found a clay pipe in the woods for a chimney and secured it above the pit with rocks and dirt. They planted purple vinca plants in the surrounding soil, which adds to its beauty and makes it appear like a natural part of the landscape.
The pit is fired up more often in spring and fall than in summer.
The path leading up to the fire pit is paved with recycled shells—a byproduct from a seafood company in Connecticut. They dug a six-to-eight inch trough in the path and filled it with shells, which are visually pleasing and good for the soil.