by Sarah Naybour
12th March 2016

Now that spring is almost upon us, I love to sit outside as the evenings gradually stay lighter for longer. But it can be quite chilly, even in the summer – certainly our British summers! So what better way to keep warm than by sitting by a roaring fire. Especially with friends and family, toasting marshmallows!

I have such fond memories of building bonfires with my father, raking damp leaves onto raging flames and running away from the smoke, eyes streaming! And hours later loving the smell of wood smoke on my clothes… But, let’s face it, building a bonfire every time you want to sit outside with friends just isn’t practical. Especially if you live in urban or smoke controlled areas.

The Rules around Bonfires

Let’s get the boring, but important, stuff out of the way first before I tell you about some of the options available for garden fires.

Many parts of the UK are smoke control areas now. Contact your local council to see if you live in a smoke control area. According to Gov.UK, you are allowed to have garden bonfires in smoke control areas, but you need to follow the rules, being predominantly around the nuisance they can cause. Be careful what you burn – most household waste must be taken to a local composting or recycling area. And what you do burn (wood cuttings, dried leaves etc.), should only be burned when the wind is in the right direction; if it drifts across the road and becomes a danger to traffic, or is a nuisance to neighbours, you could face a heavy fine – up to £5,000!

Now for the fun firey part…

The Fire Pit

Becoming increasingly popular, the fire pit is a great way to have a controlled fire in the garden. There are many different types of fire pits, from sunken ones that are built into your patio or lawn, to freestanding ones, and even table top fire pits. Some are easy to make, or you may prefer to simply buy one. With various different designs to choose from, such as bowl shaped, or square, they’re usually available in concrete or steel and can be a real focal point of the garden.

If you’d rather not have logs and the bother of the resultant smoke and ash, or if you live in a smoke control area, go for fire glass fire pits – they produce more heat than wood, are odourless and smokeless and, best of all, they’re environmentally friendly. And they can look stunning!

Outdoor Fireplaces

Becoming increasingly popular, some new houses are built with fireplaces on the outside as well as indoors, making sitting on the patio feel like sitting in the living room … but in the open air, under the stars! But for the rest of us, there’s a plethora of different outdoor fireplaces available for the garden or patio, from what looks like a typical wood burning or gas fireplace, to the ever popular cast iron or clay Chimineas.

Stacked logs can be made to look quite a feature, too, with different kinds of open storage solutions for both indoors and out.

Swedish Fire Torch

Also known as the Canadian Candle, the Swedish Fire Torch is a great way to keep warm for 2-3 hours. No need for any building or expensive fire surrounds, they’re really quick and easy to light. You can even cook on them!

Simply take a well seasoned tree log, stand it on one end and split it down into pie segments with a chainsaw to within about six inches of the base. Make sure it’s stable – you may want to dig a small hole underneath the log for it to snugly sit in. Or put it on a heatproof surface. Then wedge some bits of kindling, paper or fuel into the gaps, and light. Hey presto! The gaps allow the air to freely circulate, providing oxygen to the fire and allowing it to burn from the inside out.

Or go for the easy option – buy the wood log ready split from Amazon and other good retailers. Then you really can have a fire within minutes!

Bio Ethanol

For that really contemporary feel to your garden, go for a bio ethanol fire. Available in various different shapes and clever designs, such as tall cylinders or square tabletop boxes, most have strong glass screens to protect the flame within. And being fuelled with gas, there’s no smoke but instant atmosphere and warmth!

Depending on the individual fire, they can be lightweight and therefore portable, easy to top up with fuel, and very quick to light and extinguish. They can be used indoors as well as outdoors.

I hope you enjoy choosing how to give your garden an additional glow of warmth. You can see more on my Garden Fires and Furniture Pinterest Board. Do let me know what you choose, and send in some pictures of your garden fires. Especially if you decide to cook on them, too – a great excuse for a party!


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