Firepit vs. Fireplace: Which is better for your outdoor space?

The idea of gathering around the fire is one most people are very familiar with. For thousands of years, humans have gathered around fires to cozy up, cook meals, share stories and enjoy music. Today, those traditions are still deeply ingrained in our culture — and at Plants Creative Landscapes, we are excited to help you create your own fireside gathering experience of your own.

But before roasting those marshmallows over an open flame, you’ll need to choose a fire feature that will enhance the aesthetics of your space and fit within your lifestyle. In this blog post, I’ll explain some of the options as well as the benefits of each one.

So which should you choose, a firepit or a fireplace? It really depends on what you’re looking for. Each type of fire feature provides its own “experience.”

Firepits: Versatile, cost-effective and minimal

Firepits are wonderful gathering places for groups of all sizes. Since they’re compact and often circular in shape, they can be comfortably enjoyed by everyone, from your significant other to your entire family and friends.

Some of the reasons you may want to consider a firepit…

  • You’ll have more space — Firepits don’t take up a lot of space. If you’re looking to have a patio, outdoor kitchen, dining area and garden beds, there may not be space or budget left for a fireplace. If there are too many competing aspects to your landscape, a firepit offers a more compact design. This allows the firepit to play a complementary role within your landscape, rather than be the main focus.
  • You’ll spend less — Since they tend to be smaller and often require less material, firepits almost always cost less than fireplaces. If you’re building a landscape on a budget this budget-friendly option for a fire feature is a more affordable add-on for your landscape. A firepit still gives you the benefit of an open flame experience opening up possibilities for other landscape elements in your budget such as a stone patio or plantings.
  • You’ll be able to relive your childhood memories — A firepit is much less formal than a fireplace suiting more natural and organic landscape styles. Rather than heading to the nearest state park or campground for fireside tales and marshmallow roasting, this more rustic feature lets you build a roaring fire in your own yard instead. Having an open fire just might provide the nostalgia of camping that your gathering is looking for.

Fireplaces: Formal and exciting focal points

A fireplace is a much larger fire feature. As a structural design element, Its height and mass can quickly make it a focal point of your landscape. Outdoor fireplaces are ideal if you are trying to create a more intimate setting of a room.

Some other reasons why you might want to consider a fireplace…

  • You can put a “roof” over your head — With a fireplace, your flame is enclosed and has its own chimney or smokestack. This allows you to build around the open hearth of a fireplace, creating the feel of a room where the warmth can be more contained. Some decide to have a roof, arbor or pergola structure over their fireplace terrace for a cozy space that feels more enclosed and intimate.
  • You can enjoy it year-round, no matter the weather — An added benefit to having a fireplace is that it allows you to enjoy your fire without being exposed directly to the elements like the openness of a firepit. Rain or wind won't affect the flame of the fire, which is protected by the fireplace’s masonry structure. With flues and a damper, you can control exactly the amount of heat you’d like, how quickly you burn through your wood and keep moisture and debris out.
  • You can have it closer to your house — Depending on how your home is laid out, you may be able to attach your fireplace to an existing fireplace smokestack or create a nearby fireplace terrace right outside your back door. If the weather isn’t cooperating, adding a covered fireplace terrace with a television or piece of lovely artwork above the mantle can be just like an outdoor living room!

There is much to consider when choosing between a fireplace or a firepit for your outdoor space. As a permanent structure, the advice of a professional is helpful as they can provide the best layout and finishes to suit your home and lifestyle. But that’s why we’re here! We love helping clients understand their options and help them choose what’s best. That way, the hardest decision then becomes… Who wants smores?