In Greater Chicago and the surrounding area, the warmth and dancing light that a fire pit or fireplace brings are very welcome throughout the year, and especially during seasonal transitions when weather patterns are changing and evening temperatures are unpredictable.

Both an outdoor fire pit and fireplace can provide the enjoyment you crave, adding light, heat, and an interactive experience that enhances your outdoor entertainment. Fire features also bring ambiance to any landscape; there’s truly nothing like sitting by a fire.

As you debate fire pits and fireplaces, you may notice that while both add the appeal of fire to your yard, they are different structures that provide different experiences.

Let’s talk about the differences between the two to help make your choice of a fire pit or outdoor fireplace easier.

Outdoor Fireplace or Fire Pit: Which One Is For You?

Whether your idea of backyard enjoyment is an elegant evening chatting with friends or roasting marshmallows for s’mores with the kids, a backyard fire feature can enhance the experience for everyone.

family sits around outdoor fireplace

Certainly, how you plan to use the fire and the kind of experience you desire are overarching factors that will aid in your decision on which one is best for you.

Consider these important points as you narrow your options.

Outdoor Fireplace

An outdoor fireplace offers the ultimate ambiance. While it’s not quite the same interactive experience as sitting around a fire pit, it is grand -- an elegant focal point on your landscape.

outdoor fireplace with seat wall

An outdoor fireplace is a landscape structure that can be a great addition to a pavilion or an outdoor living room to anchor a seating area. And this means it becomes usable even in rainy weather.

Another key point: You sit in front of an outdoor fireplace vs. fire pit, which you tend to sit around. And the smoke of this architectural statement, which is usually smaller than the space for a fire pit, travels up and out of a chimney.

aerial view of family in front of outdoor fireplace

Because of their grandness and need for additional materials, gas-burning fireplaces will typically cost more than wood-burning fire pits.

Fire Pit

If you are looking for an interactive experience with your backyard fire feature, then you might want to opt for a fire pit.

fire pit on patio with pool and pergola

Fire pits are something you and your guests circle around. And since custom fire pits are immovable, you definitely want to assess whether you’ll be spending enough time around them since they can take up a larger area of your patio. Naturally, a fire pit typically means there will be room for seating on all sides.

Fire pits don’t have chimneys so smoke can’t be directed up them, but landscape professionals will use their expertise to place them where winds won’t blow the smoke toward other areas of your patio.

aerial view of custom patio with fire pit and seating

While wood-burning fire pits are usually cheaper than gas-burning fireplaces to install, these fire pits do tend to need more maintenance in terms of cleanup, such as cleaning out debris, but cooking over an open flame may outweigh that extra step for you.

Choose the Best Backyard Fire Feature For Your Suburban Chicago Landscape

Now that you know the pros and cons of an outdoor fireplace vs. a fire pit, all you have left to do is decide which one you really want. Then you can add graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate squares to your grocery list, and get ready to enjoy the flames.

firepit on patio with pergola bar and hot tub

We know the two options above can seem very comparable; they are both great additions to any Chicago landscape. In fact, you may still be torn even after reviewing their key differences. That’s why KD Landscape is here.

We can help you make a final decision, showing you some real-life examples we’ve created. And we can ask you some key questions about your preferred activities and daily habits, so you can see which option you might use more than another -- the one that truly fits your lifestyle. We even offer other fire feature options like fire tables that bring a smaller fire element to your space, giving you the best of both worlds. It’s certainly a personal choice, but we are happy to help.

Ready to see how KD Landscape can give you the fireplace or fire pit you’ve been dreaming of for your Greater Chicago backyard? We’d love to share our design and installation expertise with you. Get started today with a free consultation. Together, we can add warmth, light, and ambiance to your backyard.

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