Feature Areas And Fire Pits: A Landscape Planning Guide

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With a well-designed landscape plan, you can completely transform your yard into an inviting space that acts as an extension of your dining, living, and rec rooms—not just for summer, but all year ’round! The keys to pulling off a functional landscape plan are to pay attention to details, think ahead, and make sure you’re abiding by local laws and regulations. You can’t just start setting fires in the backyard, after all! 

To get you prepared to plan and execute your landscape features, we put together this guide full of tips and best practices so that you won’t run into any speed bumps down the road. 

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Fire Pit Landscape Planning

There’s something about sitting around a bonfire with your pals that creates a sense of community and camaraderie. It taps into our primitive human instincts, bringing us warmth, comfort, and a fun place to roast up some tasty treats. Building a fire pit in your yard will ensure you’ve got a go-to evening activity (so long as it isn’t raining), but before you set it up, there are some things you should keep in mind.

Check local rules and regulations. Depending on your location, there will be guidelines on the minimum distance required between your fire pit and any buildings on your property. In some areas, it may be 10 feet around, and others may be closer to 15. That means you’d need a yard that is at least 20–30 feet across in both directions. These rules exist to ensure that nothing ignites if a gust of wind sends any burning material flying. 

Don’t set up your fire pit underneath a tree canopy. Even if the tree is really high up, it can be risky. Paper kindling can catch a breeze and fly straight upwards, potentially catching a branch and setting your trees on fire. As plant lovers, that would be both dangerous and heartbreaking!

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Don’t make it too big. Massive fires are harder to control, and there are also local laws about how big your fires can be. Generally, you won’t want your pit to be over 2 feet tall or 3 feet across, so there’s no need to build an oversized brick pit. Keep it a standard size, and you’ll be unlikely to encounter any issues. 

Make room for some quality seating. Sure, you could just toss some old folding lawn chairs around the bonfire pit, but if you’re seeking a more upscale atmosphere, consider investing in a beautiful seating area. We recommend paving the area around the bonfire with some charming brick or stone and investing in a quality set of patio chairs

It’s also wise to include a small side table or two, and a stand where you can place your fire pokers and roasting sticks when not in use. A hot metal stick used to roast hotdogs can instantly melt straight through the fabric of a patio chair, so make sure you’ve got a suitable place to store it instead!

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Water Features

Water features are visually stunning, but they can also add ambient sound and attract local wildlife. Here are some great options you can add to your landscape.

Ponds are so much fun to add into the yard, especially if you’re an avid gardener, because it opens up so many new options for interesting plants to integrate into the yard. Water lilies and other aquatic plants add so much beauty to the landscape—it’s no wonder they so enthralled Monet! 

Properly and safely building and installing a pond is a bit of a tricky task, so if you aren’t sure if you can pull it off by yourself, we highly recommend hiring a landscape design expert to help you. This is especially true if you hope to add pond fish because you’ll want to be certain that your pond’s conditions are hospitable for them. 

Fountains are undeniably beautiful and bring that lovely, meditative atmosphere to the yard with the soothing sound of trickling water. There are so many jaw-dropping styles to choose from, like tiered fountains, wall fountains, and artsy, sculptural pieces that offer a sense of style and modernity. 

Bird Baths are a lovely, low-key way to bring a water feature into the garden, and like fountains, there are so many different artistic styles to choose from. Whichever style you go with, make sure to change the water regularly and keep it clean, because stagnant, shallow water can become a breeding ground for biting bugs and other nasties. 

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Outdoor Entertaining Areas

Having a cozy spot outdoors to share meals and entertain guests is so valuable. It brings plenty of entertainment during the warmer months, and it’s an excellent boost for your property value.

Patio sets with weatherproof seating and all the amenities needed to serve and enjoy meals are a must, but you’ll also want to make sure the area is paved. A paved surface makes it easier to scoot your chair back, walk around the table, and clean up afterward. Dropped food in the grass can make for quite the mess over time!

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Provide shade in the yard so you can sit out there comfortably on hot days. Umbrellas and awnings are easy to set up, but you could also look at more major architectural options like a pergola. Pergolas provide dappled shade with overhead beams, but they can be made shadier (and much more beautiful) with the addition of vining plants and twinkle lights.   

When in doubt, talk with a landscape planning expert. Taking on DIY projects at home can be a lot of fun, but a few missteps can prove costly to fix down the road. To keep things simple and with no surprise costs, while ensuring that everything turns out beautiful and according to plan, contact our landscape design team at Alsip Home & Nursery, and we’ll help you bring your vision to life.

Ready to get started? Our design team can work with you to make plans that fit both your vision and your budget, and we can connect you with a trusted local landscaper to build it for you. To learn more, call us in-store at our St. John IN, or Frankfort IL locations.