There’s nothing quite like sitting around a cozy campfire when it’s chilly outside. With a backyard fire pit, you can do just that – all year long, during the day or at night to watch the stars. No wonder this is one of the hottest backyard accessory trends – and your artificial lawn is a prime location. But installing a fire pit in your backyard requires careful safety precautions, so your good times don’t go bad.
That’s true whether you live in the center of an established suburban neighborhood or on an outlying property that adjoins open land or wooded areas. With that in mind, here are some safety tips you should consider to protect your grass, your family, and your environment.
General safety tips
- Find out if your community even allows open fires, and if so, what the rules are about minimum distance from structures, etc. If wood fires are not allowed, there are many types of gas-fired models available, both permanent and portable. If you have a choice of wood or gas, keep in mind that wood puts out more heat, along with that special outdoorsy crackle and smell.
- Talk to your insurance agent about whether you must declare your fire pit on your homeowner’s policy.
- Make sure your fire pit is well away from shrubs and trees, too – especially any overhanging branches.
- Never leave your fire pit unattended – especially if your children or pets are roaming around.
- Use a screen cover to keep the fire where it belongs. After this summer’s nightmare destruction, we’ve all seen just how fast fire can spread. No one wants a repeat, and certainly none of us wants to be responsible for releasing the ember that starts a fire of any size. A screened cover also protects your kids and pets.
Never had a fire pit before? This article, written by a former wildland firefighter, provides excellent, detailed tips for everything from choosing a location to disposing of ashes safely.
Now, about that artificial turf
It’s nice to know that your faux grass is not flammable. If a spark or ember or a piece of piping hot food were to land on it, that spot can melt, but the hot spot will never flame up or spread. Nonetheless, you’d rather not damage your gorgeous grass. You can protect it by following the safe tips noted above and by following these simple design recommendations:
- Don’t put your fire pit directly on your fake grass. For the greatest safety plus the greatest landscape design and functionality benefits, create an “island patio” area next to or within your lawn. Use natural stone, brick, or another non-flammable material that blends with your other hardscapes. (No wooden decking, please.)
- Make your island large enough to hold the fire pit as well as some comfortable seating around it. But keep the overall size in scale with your lawn and the rest of your yard.
- Build in a wood box that is near enough for convenience but covered to keep extra logs dry and protected.
Now you’re cookin’
Or you could be. Why just sit around your backyard fire pit when you could be roasting hot dogs and marshmallows? If your fire pit accommodates a grill top, you can also whip up some outdoor snacks or even a simple meal without having to fire up your barbecue. Simple pleasures. Lots of fun. And always safe. Exactly what you had in mind when you switched to artificial turf.