Two men are sitting around a bonfire. One holds a drink in his hand, the other is grilling a sausage over an open fire.
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Garden

Building a fireplace in the garden: it’s this quick and easy

Thomas Bott

Ending a cozy evening with a fire in the garden – there’s virtually nothing more beautiful. Building a fireplace for the garden is not that difficult. All that matters is the right construction method, the right materials and a few important requirements when it comes to fire protection. You can get tips on building here.

The basic question: is your garden suitable for a fireplace?

An open fire needs space. Firstly, so that it can ignite properly; secondly, so that it doesn’t cause any damage. So you should choose a place in your garden without any trees or flammable shrubs nearby. After all, danger not only comes from the fire itself, but also from flying sparks.

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To avoid causing trouble with the neighbors, it’s also an advantage if the fire can be located in the middle of the garden. Smoke could otherwise disturb surrounding homeowners – especially when the wind is unfavorable. You should also find out about the regulations that apply in your canton – for example whether a building permit is required.

Once a suitable place has been found and the legal issues have been clarified, you must also ensure that the surface conditions are right. A fire should be located at ground level if possible. This is particularly true if you are planning a fire bowl, which shouldn’t be placed at an angle. Otherwise wood, embers and hot ashes will quickly fall out. Besides, you and your guests don’t want to sit on a slope.

A group of young people are sitting around a fire bowl.

Choosing the right place for the fire is important. The ground should be flat and even, and there should be enough space to sit down – because marshmallows taste even better when everyone’s in a comfortable circle around the fire.

A fireplace in the garden: materials and designs

There are different ways to create a fireplace in the garden. Classic fire baskets are very popular. They are easy to set up, available in various shapes and decorations, and relatively inexpensive. In most cases, the material used is metal. The cladding also plays a role. Large struts with slightly larger gaps are more suitable for logs. Finer burning material such as branches or pellets are best stored in fire baskets with a denser structure for the cladding.

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Fire bowls, on the other hand, are open at the sides and usually made of metals such as iron and cast iron, steel, stainless steel or aluminum. Their great advantage is that they offer an even better view of the fire and burning material. In this case it is all the more important to stack the wood properly, because there are no lateral supports. Both types of fireplace are mobile and can therefore be used in various appropriate places in the garden. Practical: additional elements for fire bowls and fireplaces ensure that they can also be used for grilling food.

A metal rod with two marshmallows skewered over an open fire.

A fire bowl has an open design. This makes it even easier to roast food over it – like the marshmallows here.

A fixed fireplace can be given a more individual design. This involves preparing a place for the fire in the garden and converting it with different materials. You could use an ankle-high wall made of stones, field stones or bricks for example. However, there are also solutions made of glass, concrete or metal.

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Building your own fireplace: here’s how easy it is

You can easily build a fixed fireplace like the one described above in just a few steps. You will need a spade, a shovel, a base for the burn area and material for the desired border. The individual steps:

  1. Mark out a suitable place for the burn area in the garden. Make sure that the minimum distances from buildings are observed and that the fire is far enough away from wooden huts, trees and bushes.
  2. Dig about ten centimeters deep into the ground and excavate a round or square area.
  3. Cover the area with sand, gravel or other stones.
  4. Now make the border. For this you can pile up bricks and fix them with mortar, for example. The mortar must then dry completely.
  5. Place chairs or benches near the fireplace. Make sure that they are not too close to the fire.
A child holds a stick in the fire.

The construction of a simple fireplace is so easy that even children can help without any difficulty. This makes grilling bread twists over the fire even more fun afterwards.

Even more control: a gas fireplace

Gas fireplaces are even easier to control. They are usually mobile and available from specialist dealers. The fire burns with quite small flames and no smoke. However, you will of course lose out on the cozy crackling of burning wood. On the other hand, there are no ashes to dispose of once the fire has gone out. Compared to a wood fire, you will have to dig a little deeper into your pockets when using gas.

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General tips: correct fire handling

Whether wood or gas – keep a cool head around a hot fire and follow these safety tips:

  • Don’t light a fire in your garden in strong winds. Even relatively tightly closed fire bowls cannot completely prevent flying sparks.
  • Don’t use fire accelerators such as methylated spirits or gasoline to ignite the fire. Instead, you should use tinder or smaller branches.
  • Make sure that the ground around the fireplace isn’t too dry.
  • Never leave the fireplace unattended. In the worst-case scenario, even a moment of carelessness can have terrible consequences.
  • Keep something for extinguishing the fire in an emergency nearby – the excavated earth, sand or water.
  • Don’t simply let the fire go out unattended but extinguish it carefully and completely before leaving the fire. But don’t just use earth or sand, because the embers underneath will continue to glow. You should always use additional water.
  • Don’t touch fire baskets and bowls too soon after putting out the fire, as the metal will have heated up considerably.
Strong flying sparks emanate from glowing charcoal in a fire bowl.

Attention: there is always danger associated with fire. Fires can break out quickly – especially due to the combination of strong sparks and dryness.

Conclusion: a fireplace is quick to create

A fireplace can easily be set up or built. The prices are also reasonable: for a completely self-built fireplace, you will only have to spend about 50 to 100 francs, depending on the size and choice of stones. Even smaller fire bowls and baskets are available in this price range. For a gas fireplace, on the other hand, you should expect to pay around 500 to 1,000 francs.

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