The way that some simple masonry structures are able to transform an outdoor living space can be astonishing. The simple additions of a fire pit and a retaining wall can make incredible impacts on the space on their own, but together they’ll create a space filled with creature comforts, practicality, and beauty. As you’re planning what’s next for your landscape design, look at how these two features could work in a complementary way in Maple Valley and Sammamish, WA.
The Fire Pit
One of the oldest and most useful landscape features is the fire pit. People have gotten together around the heat since civilization began and even today, we can’t help but be drawn to the fire and the promise of great storytelling among friends. A simple fire pit in your outdoor living space will likely attract friends and family over to sit back and relax, have a few drinks, make some s’mores, warm up, and create some fantastic memories.
A standard fire pit is a low-walled structure that will be either configured as a circle or a square. The symmetrical structure is most fueled by wood, propane, or natural gas.
Wood fires evoke the campfire feel that may trigger nostalgia and bring people closer together with its wonderful ambience of crackling wood. A potential drawback is that a wood-fueled fire pit will create smoke and ash and require storage of firewood nearby. A natural gas-fueled fire pit may be considered easier to use, although it will require plumbing and you won’t get the same woody scents and crackle.
The Retaining Wall
Another one of the oldest and most useful landscape features is the retaining wall. Aside from creating a barrier between spaces, the retaining wall has made sloped surfaces usable and habitable for thousands of years. Beyond that, a retaining wall can add multiple benefits to a landscape. It can expand usable space, provide housing for light fixtures and other infrastructure, provide casual seating, and complement other masonry structures.
The typical retaining wall is built to defend a landscape against the forces of erosion. Generally, you want to keep a retaining wall at 4 feet tall. If the slope requires a higher wall, a system of retaining walls could be created, adding a terraced look to a landscape, or engineered reinforcements could be used to build a single taller wall. A retaining wall has the potential to create interest and showcase what your landscape has to offer.
When a fire pit and a retaining wall work together, they can make an incredible pairing. When a fire pit is tucked up in the corner next to a retaining wall, it will feel secluded and intimate. A retaining wall that partially surrounds a fire pit area automatically makes the space feel much cozier.
The wall can provide shelter from chilly winds. Best of all, masonry or wood seating can be incorporated as part of the retaining wall. Built-in seating allows a larger group to gather around the fire without the clutter of individual chairs, and it also makes it easier for people to move around the fire.
Flat Property? No Problem!
A shorter, non-structural retaining wall, often called a seat wall, can be placed around a fire pit on a flat property to provide seating and a sense of definition. You’ll benefit from being able to seat a crowd and avoid clutter. Or a slightly taller wall could partially encircle the fire pit area, allowing you to place patio furniture by the fire and enjoy the breeze-blocking wall at your back.