Finding a remedy for end-of-summer blues can be the pitsAugust 16, 2013
By Charles H. Gamarekian
For many homeowners who can't get enough time outdoors watering flowers, tending to their herb gardens, plucking plump red tomatoes, and grilling meals morning, noon and night, facing the doldrums of fall and winter is simply the pits. There is an easy-to-obtain solution to these seasonal blues (that is ironically also the pits) - a backyard fire and barbecue pit. Having one will allow you to not only enjoy its many benefits in summer months, but also extend fireside pleasures all year long.
Up until recently, you may have associated a fire pit with digging out a small hole in the backyard and surrounding it with stones and filling it with branches and logs, redolent of campfire memories as a child when you toasted marshmallows over an open flame while telling stories with family and friends on a summer night. You’ve no doubt watched the “fire pit frenzy” grow as many products have emerged in the market at large box stores and in direct mail catalogs. Usually portable and made of aluminum, copper and/or cast iron, they have replaced other trends such as patio chimineas.
To the credit of many manufacturers of hardscape materials (interlocking concrete pavers and manufactured wall stones), we have seen an evolution to more permanent fire pits. These are designed to co-exist in a stylish patio environment that also comprises pavers and a wall system, along with other components to create an environment that is more commonly referred to by landscape designers as an “outdoor living room” in today’s vernacular. What began over a decade ago as a round design made of textured wall stones with a metal insert to hold the logs and often came complete with a grate for traditional barbecuing of steaks, kabobs and chicken, gained popularity through innovative ideas and promotion by hardscape product manufacturers such as Cambridge. They are usually installed on a field of pavers such as on a circle pattern of shapes mostly for stability, and can be easily accessed in the backyard. More commonly, the area reserved for a fire pit is surrounded by a much larger pattern of pavers to create a patio.
If a fire pit is just what the doctor ordered to cure your end-of-summer blues, you have a plethora of models to choose from ranging from round and square designs for customary wood burning as well as with natural gas convenience. Caps for the wall units are also available in cast stone that resembles natural bluestone for stylish yet functional appeal. Rings for circular models from Cambridge come in both cast stone and granite. The capping, wall stones and pavers are color coordinated to blend together and integrate into a more expansive patio design.
Don’t let design and installation costs frustrate you either. Cambridge offers a full line of pre-cut, prepackaged fire pit kits in addition to a fully assembled gas fire table. You can further enhance the ambience of a Cambridge gas fire pits and the fire table with optional glass fire beads, which are specially designed, oval shaped, linear beads that will reflect light and sparkle when the flame is lit. Their unique shape allows the flame to move freely between each bead to create a dancing, liquid-like display. Three different bead colors are available and can be mixed for a truly personalized visual effect.
With solutions-based hardscape products to revitalize your outdoor lifestyle, don’t hesitate to begin with a simple fire pit on a 100 sq. ft. patio and add square footage and other amenities later such as perimeter walls, walls for casual seating, or columns as time and/or your budget permits. A more complete outdoor room can include an outdoor kitchen, pizza oven and other lifestyle amenities. With Cambridge Products, any or all of this can be accomplished in phases without concern for matching colors, textures and styles in the final outcome.
Now that you know the Rx, the versatility and damage control resulting from fluctuating fall and winter climates make fire pits made of hardscape materials the ideal choice. Just think: You won’t have to store them away at the end of summer. Instead you will be free to use your fire pit on-demand for third- and fourth- season parties and intimate gatherings that let you enjoy fireside chats, grilling of meats, toasting franks and marshmallows and simply feeling the warmth of an open fire.
To learn more about fire pits made of manufactured wallstones, visit a local hardscape supplier such as an authorized Cambridge distributor or go to cambridgepavers.com online.
About the writer:
Charles H. Gamarekian is the Chairman/CEO of Cambridge Pavers Inc. He is one of the founders and a current board member of the Interlocking Pavement Institute. Organized in 1993, ICPI is the North American trade association representing the interlocking concrete paver industry and considered by peer associations around the world as the leader in development and dissemination of technical information for design professionals and contractors. Mr. Gamarekian is recognized worldwide as an expert in his field and is a frequent speaker on the proper installation of pavingstones, wallstones and many outdoor living products.