What is YOUR Outdoor Fire Pit Personality Profile?

2020. What a year, eh? If anything, we have learned the definition of such words as: faith, patience, and resolve. With so much out of our control, our only safe havens have been our very own homes. In a sense, it has always been that way… but we have learned to live at wifi’d coffee shops, as a fixture in the office and traveling from destination to money-making destination. As the collective ‘we’ has been stuck at home, those honey-do lists loom, looking us square in the face. New flooring in the kitchen, check. Paint the hallway, check. Remodel the downstairs bathroom, check. Now what? Many folks have turned their focus to their outdoor living rooms – their backyards.

The Draw of a Fire Pit

‘Tis the season for many to stay inside – avoiding the cold, wet weather. But for those brave souls still clinging to outdoor sanity, the fire pit has proven a welcomed companion. Whether it is just you and your partner, or a booming family of six [plus fur babies], fire pits can draw us outside with their flickering flames. Wood burning, propane or natural gas alike… fire pits allow us to relax outside with a bit of warmth and can emotionally draw us together. Extend summertime s’mores into the inclimate wintertime months with hot chocolate cuddle sessions around the glow of your very own outdoor fire.

Fire Pit Restrictions

Fire pits are not for everybody… sometimes an HOA will restrict any sort of flame on your property. Another limiting factor is that there just is not enough room on your condo porch. For everyone else though, let Drake’s 7 Dees fire pit design and build help you make an educated decision on how to build an outdoor fireplace. Fire pits can be a very affordable upgrade to any outdoor living space.

Fire pits come in one of three fuel varieties: wood burning, propane or natural gas [oh my!]

Wood Burning Fire Pits

These are the most popular choice from the outset. There is something whimsical and romantic about striking a match and igniting a flame. Wood burning fire pits are also one of the most affordable options. As with any of the three fuel varieties, there are both prefabricated models and the custom built, ‘sky’s-the-limit’ options. Though firewood can be easily attained, it is important to remember that keeping it dry can be an obstacle. Also, the smoke generated from the spent lumber can sometimes make for unhappy neighbors.

Prefabricated, wood burning fire pits can be found anywhere from your local hardware store to the closest supermarket. Since these kits are all-inclusive, there’s little assembly required and are simple to construct. For your weekend festivities consider the BYOB variety, “bring your own birch”!

A prefabricated wood burning firepit

Custom built, wood burning fire pits can be just as easy to insert into your dream landscape… but there are regulations as to how close to a dwelling they can reside, as well as near property lines. A custom built fire feature of any kind is usually a permanent fixture in your outdoor space; thus location, size, and fuel type must be considered prior to construction. A fire pit ‘done right’ can add an immense amount of enjoyment to your back yard. Both wood burning fire pit options can be considered doable by ‘weekend warriors’ but are a specialty at Drake’s 7 Dees.

Some of Our Favorite Wood Burning Fire Pit Kits

Propane Fueled Fire Pits

Propane fueled fire pits come in both mobile, prefabricated models… as well as kits to convert a wood burning, custom kit into a more manageable – cleaner burning fixture. That spare BBQ propane tank you have sitting around is now to be gainfully employed! Propane fire pits allow for control of a small, subdued burn or a ‘volume-up-to-11’ bonfire. This control allows for these fire pits to be placed closer to homes, especially when backyard space is at a premium. This variety of fire pit fuel also makes for happier neighbors, as there is zero smoke of which to complain. What seems to be missing from this option of fire pit fuel is the snap, crackle and pop of a cedar log; but if the conversation is good… and everyone has a full cup, we’d venture a guess you won’t notice the lack of ambiance.

Prefabricated Propane Fire Pits

Prefabricated, propane-fueled fire pits are compact, easy to maneuver, and generally about the same cost as a high quality mobile wood burning fire pit. One of the biggest advantages to propane over wood, is the ease of use. Firewood does not need to be stored, seasoned, mobilized, and tended-to for a good time. Propane starts with a snap, burns evenly, and shuts off with the twist of a dial.

A prefabricated propane fire pit

Fire Tables

Recently trending, fire tables are an in-between option for those desiring a custom look but wanting to remain budget conscious. Due to their size, they generally require a more skilled hand than most homeowners possess. They are sleek, elegant, and contemporary – on the average. Some fire tables even have a built-in ‘heavy edge’ that are wide enough for a paper plate and a glass of your favorite Pinot.

Some of Our Favorite Fire Tables

Custom Propane Fire Pits

Custom built, propane fueled fire pits combine the high-end finishes of the custom, wood burning variety with the ease of use of a gas fuel. What can get tricky in this mixture of features is concealing the hose from the propane tank and the burner. Though not impossible, propane tanks need to be disguised… hoses need to be properly hidden… and most homes do not have a direct line to a propane fuel source. Which ushers in our last fuel-source option, Natural Gas.

Natural Gas Fueled Fire Pits

At the costliest end of the spectrum are natural gas fire pits. Believe it or not, there really are not many prefabricated options. Even in homes with existing LP natural gas available, special connections, permits and sometimes even meter upgrades can be required to ‘fan the flame’. When going all out for your natural gas fire pit, Drake’s 7 Dees’ favorite local gas connection team is All Fuel Installation + Service out of Troutdale, Oregon. We have worked with them on countless fire pit installs over the years. In tandem with your design style, we handle the material choice selection… layout… location… burner options… and lighting preferences, then All Fuel makes sure the connections are done to code. We have yet been made privy to any buyers’ remorse for these natural gas fire pit investments, quite to the contrary. These clients’ homes are now ‘thee’ hangout spot in the neighborhood. Dinner parties are a cinch with accommodating outdoor environments.

An outdoor entertainment area centered around a fire pit

Get started with your fire pit!

Our talented team of landscape designers would be happy to talk with you more about how best to infuse a fire pit into your current outdoor living arrangements. One of our favorite projects of 2020 started with a new fire pit and blossomed into an entire backyard renovation! We would love to pair up with you to help figure out how to build an outdoor fireplace to fit your personality – drop us a line and let’s visit!

A lifelong Oregon resident, Drake has been passionate about plants since childhood, beginning with propagating and growing flowers at his grandfather’s nursery. He opened Drake’s 7 Dees in 1974, while earning degrees in Business and Horticulture from Oregon State University. He later expanded into the design/build side of the industry, allowing him to combine his passion for plants with his love of family by maximizing the quality of family time spent outdoors.

Drake is co-founder of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association and is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager (LICM)—a designation that less than two percent of landscapers have attained. Additionally, Drake serves on the Board of Directors for the Portland Japanese Gardens, widely regarded as one of the seven best Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

Drake is married to former Oregon Speaker of the House, Lynn Snodgrass. Together, he and Lynn received the Farm Bureau President’s award in 1999 for their service and dedication to agriculture in the state of Oregon. Drake and Lynn have two wonderful daughters, two talented son-in-laws, and seven grandchildren. In his spare time, Drake enjoys camping, water and snow skiing, reading, and of course, gardening.