Fire department

It’s not all about barbecues – a controlled blaze can keep you warm in your garden

The season of al-fresco dining, games on the lawn and green-fingered pursuits means you’ll be spending a lot more time in the garden. But if you still want to enjoy your outside space once the sun has gone down, you’re probably going to have to invest in a heater to beat the chill.
Firstly, think flexibility. Pits, stoves and chimineas are relatively sizable and expensive, and more likely to settle in as a permanent fixture than echo any existing patio furniture and flower beds. With this in mind, you have leeway to allow the fire to act as a new focal point. Harrie Leenders’ Pharos outdoor fireplacefrom Bonk & Co is a slim, unobtrusive design that swivels, closes when not in use and is mobile, meaning it can be placed anywhere within the garden and repositioned to suit different seating arrangements. Its plume of smoke vanishes just above head height, so won’t choke you or your guests, and a resilient outer casing puts out a gentle, manageable heat.
In contrast, artist Cathy Azria’s Loop fireplace was commissioned as a fixed, sculptural centre­piece for a decking area in a private garden and runs on mains gas. Similar pieces need to be built into a fire-and frost-proof vessel or slab.
Outdoor fires can also prove to be flexible in terms of their function. Is your garden mainly used for entertaining? If so, choosing a dual-purpose model will work well. The Kamino by Morsø is part-fireplace, part-oven, and many other stoves come equipped with grill shelves.
Before the towering inferno takes up residence, bear in mind its sustainability. The Ercole fire pit by AK47 Space is constructed from steel and concrete for longevity, but for lesser models a regular wipe down with an oily rag and covering it up when it rains can just as easily safeguard a stove’s staying power.

Pit stop

“Even when not lit, a modern outdoor fire pit could still be a central feature in the garden, thanks to some stunning design options that can be appreciated during the day, not just at night. Fire pits come in a wide range of materials, including stainless steel, Corten steel and concrete. Have a look at what sort of materials you’re using in and around the garden, and then perhaps look to specify a fire pit in the same materials, giving continuity of design. Or you may want to choose a fire pit in a completely different material to make more of a statement. Just like with an indoor fire, you should only ever use seasoned firewood, which will burn more efficiently and give off less smoke.”
Simon Ray, Encompass Furniture Ltd

The Ercole fire pit provides storage for firewood
The Ercole fire pit provides storage for firewood

Burning bright

What do you want most? Is it heat or a big garden feature? Stoves offer the best overall heat, and normally the potential to cook as well. But the heat can be very directional and so the social element can be lost. If you’d prefer big flames to socialise around, a fire pit is your best bet. These give views of the flames from all angles, and everyone around the fire gets some of the heat but all the romance of the burning logs. Just don’t build your fire pit too close to the house – they can produce lots of heavy smoke if you burn wet wood, and can throw out embers when it’s windy – neither of which you want getting into your home! Alex Dolby, Bonk & Co