A concrete firebox sparkles with flames rising from recycled glass. Design by Jayson King. Photo by Scot Zimmerman.

Once upon a time, fireplaces were the center of a home’s living space. We gathered around them for warmth, but also for the sense of community, hearth and home. In Utah, where we spend much of our time outdoors in the high desert landscape, we’ve moved this central feature outside so the great outdoors becomes our own cozy living room.

Photo by Scot Zimmerman.

Flames leap from a ground-level bed of rocks extending from a St. George home's freeform patio.

Photo by Scot Zimmerman.

Located at the edge of a Park City home's landscape, a round, raised fire pit invites guests to gather around the large feature.

Photo by Scot Zimmerman.

Flames dramatically rise from a pit set into the stone floor of a Salt Lake City home's contemporary, private patio.

Ask the Expert

Landform Design Group’s Jayson King designs spectacular landscapes that often flaunt flames. “Fire features are a key element of today’s outdoor living spaces,” he says. Here’s his advice on including fire in your landscape.

Use the home’s architecture and your desired use of a fire feature to guide its style and design, whether it’s a raised fire bowl to gather around with friends as you roast marshmallows or an eye-catching line of fire that surrounds a patio edge. 

Decide between the ease and convenience of a clean-burning gas feature and the natural character of a wood-burning fire. Over 95 percent of King’s clients choose gas. “You can also install a gas line to a wood-burning feature making it easier to ignite the fire,” says King. He strongly advises taking gas lines directly from a gas meter rather than from a home’s outdoor barbecue source. 

Select the proper materials to fill a fire feature–tumbled lava, glass crystals or ceramic spheres. “Black Mexican pebbles, river rock or plain silica sand can’t withstand fire’s heat and can explode,” King says.

Take advantage of today’s technology. Automatic starters enable you to start your fire by simply pushing a button on a remote control, and smart-home systems allow you to control the feature from your phone.

Back>>>Read other stories in our October 2013 issue.

WEB EXTRA>>>Outdoor fire features to buy for your home.