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Choosing the Right Outdoor Fireplace

Few things in life are as enjoyable as a warm fire under a starry sky. Bringing this into your backyard isn’t something that has to be a big challenge, but here is much to consider when looking for an outdoor fireplace. Yes, aesthetic is a big part, but the most important, I would argue, is the fuel type. Do you want something that burns clean but may cost more? Are you looking for something natural and classic? Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re ready to light things up for yourself.

 

Ethanol

 

More and more vehicles are starting to use ethanol, which is a great thing for the environment. The same can be said for having an ethanol fireplace in your home. There are some great benefits to using ethanol. Unlike some of the more traditional fuels, ethanol only produces heat, carbon dioxide and steam. This means you won’t be dealing with smoke, which is a complaint I often have with something like a wood-burning fire pit. And, since you’re not dealing with wood, you also won’t be dealing with ashes or having to find a place to store all that extra fuel until it’s ready to be burned. Some of the best parts of the wood-burning experience, however, are lost in the switch to an ethanol-based heat source. Ethanol fireplaces don't make some of the satisfying sounds you get from wood. No more crackles and pops on a still night. I suppose this could serve as a positive to some, but not for me. Also, you’re not going to feel as much heat from an ethanol fireplace. More traditional fuels put out significantly more heat, so you can consider an ethanol fireplace to be a little more about form over function. If ethanol sounds right for you, here’s a modern fireplace you can use to class up your deck.

 

Wood

 

Old faithful. There’s a lot to love about wood. A wood-burning fireplace is classic. There’s something warm and inviting about the scent of burning wood. There are an incredible amount of varieties with their own scents and smokes. It gives off great heat to keep comfortable on a cool night. Not to mention it’s completely natural and is the cheapest of all your fuel options. Wood, though, does have its downsides. In many situations it needs to be handled and chopped to size. Storage of the unused fuel can be a space issue. It leaves quite a bit of cleanup when it’s done. And, without a good fireplace, you’ll find yourself dealing with more smoke than you may like. I’ve also found getting a wood-burning situation started to be a little more time consuming than other options, but some people would consider that part of the fun. Even with all that, though, the nostalgia of sitting beside a wood-burning fire cannot be denied. The crackles and pops of the wood as the flames eat through it are transcendent, taking anybody in its presence to a place where ranch hands gather around after a hard day of work before heading in for the night. Wood and fire is as basic and beautiful experience as one can get, so long as you’re okay with handling its downsides. For an epic wood experience, give this rustic chiminea a look.

 

Propane

 

Hank Hill’s favorite fuel isn’t just for cooking. Propane has been a standard in homes for nearly a century, powering furnaces, stoves, ovens, and, yes, fireplaces. Setting up an outdoor propane fireplace isn’t especially difficult, depending on the model, but is it something that will work for you? Unlike wood, getting your propane fire started is wildly simple, typically done by flipping a switch. When you’re done, you flip it right back and it’s all over. There’s no cleanup or any sort of fuss needed. Propane is also a good source of heat. Unlike ethanol, propane will have no issue keeping you warm without requiring you to be right up against the flames. One of the biggest downsides to propane is, in fact, its origin. Wood and ethanol are derived from renewable resources, wood being from trees (obviously) and ethanol being a biofuel created from plants. Propane, on the other hand, is a fossil fuel, made as a byproduct natural gas processing and petroleum refining. As such, it’s not particularly good for the environment, and it will cost you a bit more than other fuel types. If you’re willing to give propane a chance, this elegant fire table might be just what you need.

 

Natural Gas

 

Natural gas has one major thing going for it: No fuss, no muss. If you’ve got a natural gas line available going into your home and you can have it run to a fireplace in your backyard, you’ve got it made. There is no storage of fuel, either in tanks or piles. You won’t need to clean anything up when you’re doing using it. It even gives off a fair amount of heat for those chilly nights. It’s also cheaper than propane and more convenient than the other fuel types. There are some issues, however, when dealing with natural gas. It does need to be pumped into your house. If you don’t have a natural gas line coming onto your property, you will need to have one installed. Also, like propane, natural gas is a fossil fuel, propane, in fact, being one of the byproducts of processing it. Additionally, burning natural gas is not good for the environment. It releases all kinds of greenhouse gasses which have been linked to global climate change. The ease of it, however, cannot be denied. The idea of walking onto your back patio, flipping a switch and enjoying a lovely evening by a sleek fireplace is incredibly tempting. Sound like your dream situation? Check out this beauty.

 

As with everything, there is an upside and a downside to whichever fuel you may choose for your outdoor fireplace. You’re going to find what is likely your most rewarding experience with a great wood-burning fireplace, particularly one that can keep the smoke out of your eyes. If you’re looking for simplicity, perhaps one of the gas options might work for you. Ethanol is great if you’re looking for pure aesthetics, since it is the least warm of the bunch. It all comes down to what you’re willing to do to get exactly what you want. Best of luck. Once you do decide which fireplace to get check our post on ways to design around an outdoor fireplace

Bring Some Serious Zen to Your Outdoor Living Space

Sometimes all you need in your day is a little serenity. Achieving this in your own backyard doesn’t need to be difficult. Adding appropriate statues can help bring a sense of Zen to your outdoor living space. Including a water feature can help you in your relaxation and meditation, as water sounds are often used to achieve deeper levels of calm. We’ve got some suggestions for items you can use to transform your backyard into a place you can work to reach Nirvana.

 

Zen III Garden Water Fountain

 

One of our most popular outdoor frog decorations; Featuring three frogs in the familiar Lotus Pose, this piece is both playful and productive. Placing the 18-inch tall Zen III Garden Water Fountain in your garden or wherever you may choose to do your outdoor meditation will almost certainly help guide your efforts with the calming sound of water as it flows twice over. Thanks to its relatively small size, this fountain can work in a multitude of locations, though you’ll want to keep it away from anything too tall, as to avoid covering the amphibians holding up the 20.5-inch basin. I could see this working very well in the middle of a circle of fragrant flowers, with a comfortable bench or seating area nearby. The Zen III Garden Water Fountain can be found among many of our other Cast Stone Fountains. 

 

Cubist Floor Fountain

 

When I first saw the Cubist Floor Fountain, I was swept away, feeling like ancient Japanese royalty. Quiet and calm, with stones and cascading water, this fountain is an impressive sight. Standing at nearly three feet tall, the fountain features straight lines with water bubbling from a large center column. It flows down the face of the column onto river stones in a wide, beveled basin below. The design gives it a smooth sound, as opposed to a fountain in which the water moves through streams. Thanks to the inclusion of the stones, the water constantly moves through different patterns, never quite sounding the same. Since it is designed for both indoor or outdoor use, the Cubist Floor Fountain can go absolutely anywhere you want to add a little bit of Zen. Our Asian Fountains are a sure way to invite zen into your living space. 

 

Low Zen Sphere Garden Water Fountain

 

Don’t let the short stature of this fountain fool you, because what it lacks in height, it makes up for in calming qualities. After water emerges from the top of the large sphere in the middle of the nearly 40-inch basin, it flows along the sides, gently kissing the surface of the liquid below before again making the journey. This process is not different from the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, which is something on which you can meditate as you enjoy the sight and sound of this beautiful fountain. Placed in a clear area of your yard, or even in the middle of your patio, the Low Zen Sphere Garden Water Fountain makes an eye-catching addition to any outdoor relaxation space. Garden Water Fountains come in a variety of sizes, making it possible to have the sound of soothing water even in small spaces. 

 

Buddha Head Garden Statue

 

Sometimes having the right scenery is all you need to set the mood and get a good Zen feeling going. This Buddha Head Garden Statue is so intricately designed one might think it came straight from a Buddhist temple in India. With its closed eyes, the Buddha statue evokes a calming sense of peace. One or more of these would make a great addition to a garden deck. I can picture two of these on the corner of a deck, flanking a circle of pillows on which you and your guests can sit and relax, meditating over the day’s happenings. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, our Buddha Statues are one of a kind!

 

Buddha Outdoor Water Fountain

 

If you’re digging the Buddha Head Garden Statue but want to kick it up a notch, this incredible piece is right up your alley. It is striking in both its size and symmetry. The intricately made Buddha head makes its return in the middle of a 75-inch basin, which features 12 platforms symmetrically placed across its surface. This is something designed to withstand the test of time, both in its construction and its style. Placed in a lush green area, or something that stands as a contrast to one of the incredible color options offered, the Buddha Outdoor Water Fountain is sure to catch every eye that turns its way. Thanks to the water sounds and Zen style, this fountain will help you achieve whichever state of relaxation you desire. If you long to make an impression on others - or yourself, Modern Outdoor Fountains are a sure way to do it! 

 

Yoga Dog Cast Stone Garden Statue

 

What better example of calm and serenity is there than the loyal dog? During play times, they may be loud and happy as they run around, but so do we all. When the time comes, though, a good dog will relax with you and stay by your side. The Yoga Dog Cast Stone Garden Statue pays tribute to man’s best friend, featuring a relaxed pup in a pose similar to the Burmese meditation position. With a smile on his face, the dog inspires calm, happy feelings, and at its small stature, it will fit anywhere you need it. If you need more of man’s best friend, our dog statuary will surely capture your heart!

 

Yoga Cat Cast Stone Garden Statue

 

Not to be forgotten is the more fickle of man’s companions, the cat. The Yoga Cat Cast Stone Garden Statue features a flexible feline, reaching into the air while sitting in the full lotus pose. Much like their canine counterparts, cats can be feisty. In my experience, however, they are most often found relaxing, lounging in a ray of sunlight or balancing atop a tall structure. Fickle though they may be, cats are calm and collected, almost as though they are in a constant meditative trance. This is just one of our cat statues that you're sure to love. Just be sure to keep them away from the catnip. If the feline style is calling to you, we have quite the collection in our cat statuary.

 

Whether abstract or artistic, fluid or static, adding something a little extra to your outdoor spaces can help you reach the Zen style you may aim to achieve. Bringing in a statue or water feature is a great way to help your small part of the world feel much more calming than the one outside, it doesn’t matter if you’re aiming for aesthetics or trying to hit those deeper levels of meditation. Keep these things in mind as you continue to shape your world into whatever you may wish it to be.