Outdoor fire pit ideas from horticulturist Melissa King

Melissa King, horticulturist, gardening presenter and author, talks top tips on creating the ultimate outdoor entertaining area with a fire pit

As the cooler months draw closer and the vast majority of people adapt to spending more time at home, the addition of a fire pit can convert outdoor spaces into a stylish, fun entertaining area with ease.

Melissa King, horticulturalist and Northcote Pottery Brand ambassador, shares her professional tips, landscaping ideas, and creative uses for incorporating a fire pit into your backyard.

Choosing the right location
When it comes to positioning your fire pit in the garden, safety considerations should always go into its placement.

Fire pits are a great heat source on those chilly nights when used in a safe way. Radiant heat can cause damage to surrounding surfaces and objects, so it is important to maintain at least two-metres clearance both above and around your fire pit at all times, and ensure you don’t use it underneath any outdoor structures.

Lidded fire pits, like the Glow Hive Fire Pit from Northcote Pottery are great for extra safety. Always place your fire pit on a fireproof surface, like soil, heat-proof paving or heat-proof gravel.

Please check with your landscaper, gardener or your paver/gravel supplier. Dry, brown grass and wooden decking will scorch, and is highly flammable, adding unnecessary risk.

Scents Check Plants
Create different looks and feels in your fire pit area with some strategic planting. Incorporate hedge varieties and evergreens, like Gardenias and Dwarf Lily Pillies, for a classic, formal look. Include fragrant plants to engage the senses, such as Daphne, Winter Sweet or Viburnums.

If you enjoy burning incense or scented candles, consider adding ingredients to your fire, like cinnamon sticks for spicy warmth, rosemary for a hearty ambience or dried fruit for a tropical atmosphere.

Recycle Fire Ashes
Once the fire has died down, shovel out the cold ashes and use them on the garden. Add them to the compost bin or sprinkle them around plants. Ash is a great source of potassium and other elements. It’s also alkaline in nature, so you can use it to raise the PH of your garden beds. Just be sure not to use it around acid-loving plants, like Azaleas and Gardenias.

Year-Round Use
There’s no reason why you should let your fire pit just sit there as the weather warms up. Be creative – most fire pit bowls come with a drainage hole. If yours doesn’t, simply drill a hole in the bottom. They make great ice buckets for summer get togethers, or, alternatively, you can plant it up! The rustic designs, like the Glow Ironbark Fire Pit, look striking with ornamental grasses and succulents, or decorative foliage plants like Heucheras.

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