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Meredith Holt, Published May 26 2012

Burning desires: Stylish fire pits add to backyard atmosphere

FARGO – Crisp early summer nights beg for campfire camaraderie.

More homeowners are choosing to bring that atmosphere into their own backyard.

They’re adding spark to patios, decks or backyards with a fire feature for entertaining, keeping warm or toasting marshmallows.

The flames of a fire pit or outdoor fireplace add to the atmosphere.

“It’s kind of mesmerizing,” says Garden Elegance owner Roger Klocke.

Fire pits have gained popularity over the past few years and have been featured on TV shows such as the DIY Network’s “Yard Crashers.”

“The selection available to customers has grown as well,” says Darla Skaurud, Home & Hearth general manager.

Klocke says he’s already sold some this spring, and he expects to continue selling them all summer long.

When customers come to Home & Hearth looking for an outdoor fire feature, Skaurud guides them by category, shape and energy source.

Supplier FirePits.com puts outdoor fire features in three main categories: fire pits, fire pit rings and chimineas.

Fire pits are bowls or square containers that stand on short legs as part of an outdoor table or as a built-in patio feature.

A fire pit ring surrounds a fire built on the ground or on a platform just above the ground.

Chimineas, which come in a variety of styles, look like old-fashioned stoves with a long chimney top.

Klocke isn’t a fan of chimineas. “They blow over in the wind and crack,” he says.

Home & Hearth, on 45th Street in Fargo, also sells outdoor fireplaces. “You would just gather around the front side of it” instead of all around it, Skaurud says.

Both Klocke and Skaurud say the circular features are more traditional and the square or rectangular trend more contemporary.

“Recently we’ve done more circular, but I think the rectangular will become more popular,” Skaurud says.

Klocke’s Garden Elegance, a high-end home décor and landscape product supplier in south Fargo, sells 54-inch round fire pits.

He says they comfortably hold a 9-inch dinner plate and a glass of wine. You can also put in a Lazy Susan and use them as a table, he adds.

Garden Elegance’s supplier, Ontario, Calif.-based OW Lee, also offers 36-by-58-inch-rectangle and 48-inch-square hearth tops.

Home & Hearth, which uses about six different manufacturers, offers fire pits with customizable colored-glass features.

“If you’re a Bison fan, you could mix up some yellow and green,” Skaurud says.

FirePits.com sells fire pit rings decorated with moose, horses, pine trees, stars and moons.

The OW Lee fire pits from Garden Elegance are available in propane or natural gas. Klocke says the 20-pound propane tanks last about eight hours.

He carries wood-burners, too, but he says they’re not as popular.

“The nice thing about gas is you can turn it off and you don’t have ashes blowing around,” he says.

Home & Hearth’s fire pits are also available in propane or natural gas.

Skaurud advises customers to check products for CSA approval or UL listing and make sure they’re following city guidelines.

“Any time someone in the city limits of Fargo or Moorhead is doing an outdoor fire pit, they should have the gas line and the fire pit inspected by a building inspector,” she says.

If the gas line goes under a concrete slab, for instance, it needs to be housed in PVC. “(Installation) gets a little complex,” Skaurud says.

Home & Hearth sells complete kits, do-it-yourself kits, unfinished kits and burners, so your outdoor fire project can be as hands-on as you want.

“The complete kits come in a table form or a fire pit form,” Skaurud says. “You assemble it, put it all together, and it’s completely finished.”

Business profile

What: Home & Hearth

Where: 1750 45th St. S., Fargo

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, closed Sundays

Contact: (701) 893-9300

Online: www.homeandhearthfireplaces.com

Business profile

What: Garden Elegance

Where: 5508 53rd Ave. S., Fargo

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, closed Sundays*

Contact: (701) 282-4449

Online: www.gardenelegancegallery.com

*Hours sometimes shift for season changes and client needs.