Southview Design Notes Backyard Fire Features Are Increasing in Popularity

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Backyard Campfires Come in a Wide Variety – From Simple Fire Pits to Contemporary Fire Tables

Backyard Fire Features Are Gaining Popularity

Backyard Fire Features Are Gaining Popularity

"A fire feature can be as simple as a circle of stones on the ground or as dramatic as a natural stone fireplace in an outdoor living room,” said Karen Filloon, landscape designer with Southview Design.

Southview Design landscape experts say they’ve noticed an increased demand for backyard fire pits, fireplaces, and the newest type of fire feature: contemporary fire tables.

“Fire touches our sense of wellbeing and lends warmth, entertainment and ambiance to the backyard,” said Karen Filloon, a landscape designer with Southview Design. “People just love the whole backyard campfire thing – whether it’s roasting marshmallows with the kids or enjoying a romantic evening with your honey,” she said.

Over the past 30-plus years, Southview Design has installed hundreds of fire features in backyards all over the Twin Cities area. Filloon said this popular trend is gaining even more popularity this year as the range of fire feature options has expanded.

Fire features are popular because they are both practical and aesthetically pleasing, Filloon said. “A backyard fire feature provides a focal point in a landscape design,” she said. “Plus, it’s great for warming up on a chilly evening or after a swim in the backyard pool. Fire is the ‘yin’ to the ‘yang’ of water features such as pools, fountains and bubblers.”

There is a huge array of fire features to choose from, as they come in all shapes, sizes and styles. “There are almost as many options for an outdoor fire as there are homeowners,” Filloon said. “There’s something for everyone at every price point. It can be as simple as a circle of stones on the ground or as dramatic as a natural stone fireplace in an outdoor living room.”

One of the first decisions homeowners must make is whether they want a wood-burning or natural gas fire feature. Gas fire features are clean and convenient while wood fire pits are popular because they can be less expensive to install and are more like a real campfire.

Larger fireplace structures offer a dramatic focal point in an outdoor living room; they can include a seat wall to define the space and provide additional seating. Freestanding fire pits are also very popular additions to a functional backyard landscape design, Filloon said.

Contemporary fire tables with fire glass lend color, ambiance and artistic flair to a contemporary backyard landscape design. Generally constructed of durable outdoor materials that stand up to even the harshest weather, fire tables burn either natural gas or propane gas from a tank that’s stored underneath. They generally come with an electronic ignition system and variable flame control for starting and adjusting the flame. When not in use, they convert into simple coffee tables.

The first step to installing a fire feature is to check your city ordinance, advised Filloon. Most cities have rules about where you can and can’t build a backyard fire. For example, the Minneapolis Recreational Fire Ordinance doesn’t require a permit for a backyard fire; however, open flames can’t be more than three feet wide and two feet high, and must be at least 25 feet from a structure. Since gas fire pits, fireplaces, and fire tables are considered appliances, they may be installed on a deck and the 25-foot rule may not apply, Filloon said.

For photos and descriptions of backyard landscapes with fire features, visit

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