A back yard can be a place of refuge and retreat, and a great way to relax outdoors in the comfort of your home. But, of course not all back yards are created equally. Many yards are a sparsely decorated swath of grass or rocks. A few trees or bushes might be present, but the easiest yards to care for do not have much more than ground cover.
However, the tradeoff between the required extra upkeep and water bills is enough is offset by the improved look and feel of the yard when it has things like plants, trees and features such as a fire pit. While trees are relatively neutral, background features (unless you happen to be a small boy who enjoys climbing such things), fire pits generally become the focal point. Fire in general has an almost hypnotic allure, and even people who are not generally fond of the outdoors or camping can be drawn into its grasp.
When creating a fire-centered focal point for the backyard, there are several options. The easiest choice is obviously a hole in the ground, possibly lined with bricks or stones to store radiant heat. This is a simple design, and will work well for those on a budget, but is not really the most practical situation for those who want the yard to have more of a sense of class.
The second option is a fire pit that is less homemade looking. Made from a metal such as anodized steel or cast iron, these pits are more like the idea of a wood-burning stove popular throughout early American history. While lacking a tall stovepipe, this type of wood-burning receptacle keeps fire contained with a wire mesh grating that encircles the entire structure. Furthermore, metal legs keep the pit elevated off the ground, so that grass or other ground cover is not damaged. This virtually eliminates any messy ash, although smoke can still be a problem.
While a portable wood-burning stove is handy, most people tend to use the fire pit in the same area o the yard each time, making the portability a mostly superfluous feature. A third option for fire pits is a gas powered, permanent structure, or a gas powered fire table. While this might sound off-putting at first, to those who value the nostalgic ambiance of a wood fire, gas fires can be made quite attractive. Fire glass, which resembles small, rough-cut marbles, sits in a bowl above a gas burner. The gas must first bubble up between the rocks before it can ignite, since the rocks largely smother any flame below the surface. As the gas bubbles up out of the glass, it catches fire, creating the illusion that the bowl of glass is on fire. While it is a quite different effect of a wood burning fire, the flicker and changing shapes of the flame as it boils out of the glass create the hypnotic effect of “real” fire.