Here are a few suggestions and tips—and one Cape resident’s installation account

Are you in the market for a fire pit? , Cape Cod HOME | capecodlife.com

Photograph by Josh Shortsleeve

Imagine gathering around a roaring bonfire in the backyard with family and friends—roasting marshmallows and cracking a few cold ones on a breezy summer night. Laughter fills the air as stories are told for hours on end while the memories being made are just as palpable as the warmth given off by the flames.

“People want to have their vacation in their own backyard,” says Jason Hogan of Stonewood Products of Harwich and Mashpee. And a fire pit, he says, is the perfect centerpiece for that very scenario. “People love being outside with friends and family,” says Hogan. “Bringing people together more, I think fire pits are huge for that.”

To select the fire pit that’s most suitable for them, individuals should weigh the pros and cons between wood burning and gas burning options. “You want to know what your use is going to be,” Hogan says. “If you want the hottest fire pit, it’s going to be the wood burning. It is more high maintenance since you are going to need the wood, but it’s also the most natural and true fire. It’s also the least expensive.” Wood burning pits are also available in “smokeless” models, which Hogan says is particularly appreciated on windy nights. While not smoke-free, Hogan says a smokeless fire pit circulates the smoke to keep it from blowing in people’s faces.

Gas-powered fire pits, on the other hand, are fueled either by a propane tank or the home’s natural gas fuel. “Gas-powered isn’t going to match the wood, but it’s also incredibly convenient,” Hogan says. “You can just press a button and your fire pit is on.” But that “on demand” convenience comes at a cost, as gas-burning units are more expensive. “Budget is important,” Hogan says, “but I would say it’s really a tug of war between convenience and what kind of a fire you want.”

Fire pit kits are available in a variety of designs and color palettes, and Hogan says they are relatively easy to set up. Cataumet resident Josh Shortsleeve, who put one of the kits together earlier this spring, agrees. Shortsleeve, 21, set up a smokeless, wood-burning fire pit in under an hour, and he says it was a straightforward and relatively easy process.

The steps included determining the best location for the fire pit based on distance from the house and other potential fire hazards, and then digging a level hole to a depth of one to two inches where the pit was to be placed. (The fire pit can be set directly on the ground or a patio, in lieu of digging, but Shortsleeve chose the latter option so the fire pit would not obstruct his yard’s sweeping views of Buzzards Bay.) Pre-cut blocks, included with the kit, were then assembled and the pit was inserted in place. If desired, a swing-away or fold-down cooking grill, purchased separately, can also be attached to the fire pit, as well as a smoke screen to shield against sparks.

Shortsleeve has one suggestion for those considering installing a fire pit in the ground: “Make sure you get a rubber mallet,” he says. “The first layer of stones needs to be hit in place to make sure they’re set and not going to wobble.”

With the new fire pit in the yard, Shortsleeve is looking forward to some fun times ahead. “It’s going to be great for summer nights here,” he says. “We’re looking forward to having all of our friends and family come down.”

The fire pit in this article is provided by Stonewood Products, and the Adirondack chairs in the photos are courtesy of Paine’s Patio of Pocasset.

Haley Cote is the staff writer of Cape Cod Life Publications.