When thinking about how you would like to incorporate a fire pit into your backyard, one question to think about is, should pit be below ground or should it sit on top?

That answer is up to you and what you want out of your space! In this article, we will walk you through considerations you need to make when trying to decide if your fire pit should be above ground or below.

below ground fire pit burning logs

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Considerations for Below Ground Fire Pits

When trying to make your decision about if your should have a below ground fire pit, or one above ground, there are some factors to think about.

Local regulations and building codes

When contemplating the installation of a below-ground fire pit, it’s essential to acquaint yourself with the local regulations and building codes that govern them in your area.

These rules vary from place to place, so it’s vital to do your research before embarking on this project.

Some areas might have restrictions on open fires or specific guidelines regarding the depth and size of the pit.

By understanding these regulations beforehand, you can ensure compliance and avoid any potential legal issues down the line.

Soil composition and drainage capabilities

Before digging your pit, it’s crucial to assess the composition and drainage capabilities of your soil.

Different soil types have varying abilities to drain water effectively.

For instance, sandy soil drains water quickly, while clay soil tends to retain moisture for longer periods.

You wouldn’t want your below-ground fire pit turning into a small-scale swimming pool after a heavy rainfall, so understanding how well your soil drains will help prevent any unpleasant surprises once your fire pit is up and running.

Desired Look of Your Fire Pit

Aesthetics play an important role when considering a below-ground fire pit for your outdoor space.

Fire pits don’t have to be dug in, they could be above ground and made of stacked stone, or even a purchased fire pit.

What is the look you are after in your backyard space?

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Pros and Cons of Below-Ground Fire Pits

a hole dug for a below ground fire pit
Pros of Below-Ground Fire PitsCons of Below-Ground Fire Pits
– Wind protection due to lower position– Permanent fixture, not easily moved
– Prevents stray sparks and embers from escaping– Susceptible to rainwater accumulation
– Reduces the risk of accidental burns– Requires proper drainage system
– Even heat distribution– Requires stooping or reaching for cleaning
– Pit won’t shift as ground settles, like above-ground pits can

Pros of a Below-Ground Fire Pit

By having the fire pit below ground level, there is a natural barrier that helps prevent stray sparks or embers from escaping and potentially starting a fire.

Below-ground fire pits also offer better heat distribution compared to their above-ground counterparts. As the flames are contained within an enclosed space underground, heat radiates more evenly in all directions, creating warmth that engulfs your entire seating area.

Moreover, below-ground fire pits provide excellent wind protection due to their lowered position.

Plus, you don’t have to worry as much about your pit shifting over time, like you do with wet laid stone fire pits that sit above ground.

Cons of Below-Ground Fire Pits

One major drawback of below-ground fire pits is their limited portability and flexibility in placement. Unlike store bought and above ground fire pits that can be easily moved around your outdoor space, below-ground fire pits are typically permanent fixtures once they are constructed.

Another challenge with below-ground fire pits is their susceptibility to drainage issues during heavy rainfall. When rainwater seeps into the pit, it can accumulate at the bottom and create a muddy mess.

Maintaining a below-ground fire pit requires additional effort compared to above-ground ones. The lower position makes cleaning out ashes more challenging as you may need to stoop down or even reach inside with tools to remove debris effectively.

It is worth weighing these pros and cons carefully before deciding if a below-ground fire pit is the right choice for your outdoor space. While they offer better heat distribution, and wind protection, their potential drainage issues may pose challenges.

Other articles you may be interested in:
How to start a fire pit
Should I cover my fire pit?

Cat is a nature lover who wants to help you make the most of your family and friend time in the great outdoors by offering helpful tips about fire pits, backyard activities, and camping. Learn more about Cat here.