While the weather might be picking up, it can still get pretty chilly when the sun goes down and having a fire pit can make a significant difference. Not to mention these beautiful garden heaters create a welcoming and pleasant atmosphere. But for the most part, you’ll need to have a stable and solid surface for your firepit that won’t be damaged by the heat; so, can you have a fire pit on grass?
It is possible to have a fire pit on a grass, but there are a few things that you will need to do to ensure that your fire is stable and safe. Moreover, you’ll need to make sure that your grass is protected because the heat from the fire could be very damaging.
We’ve lived and learned and as such, have come up with some innovative ways that will allow you to have your fire pit on grass.
Is It OK To Put A Fire Pit On Grass?
It may come as a surprise to learn that your fire pit can reach temperatures that are well in excess of 1100 degrees. That’s pretty hot stuff and while it's good news for keeping your guests warm, your grass might suffer somewhat.
But that isn’t to say that you can’t put a fire pit on a grassed area, you just need to make sure that the lawn is protected. It can be tempting to light the fire off the cuff when things get cold, without protecting the grass, but this can lead to some quite serious damage that could be incredibly costly to rectify.
How Does Heat Affect Grass?
If you’ve not taken the very best care of your lawn in the height of summer, then you will probably have noticed how it dries out and loses that vibrant green colour. And, we couldn’t blame you if this has happened since it requires a very significant amount of work to protect it in hot weather. Not that we need to worry about that too much here in the UK!
However, if a little bit of sun can do that to the grass, just imagine what a fire in close proximity could do. Grass will suffer from heat stress and not only will this cause temporary damage until the grass has a chance to regrow, but it can damage the health of your lawn over the long term, making it more susceptible to disease. If you want your garden to stay looking its best, you want to avoid heat stress as much as possible.
Not only does the fire pit send an enormous amount of heat to the grass but it will also draw out a lot of its moisture. Grass without moisture will quickly die. While the lawn may recover after one encounter with a fire pit, using one unprotected on the grass multiple times could result in the grass dying and never growing back.
If you don’t have a decked area or patio that you can safely use your fire pit on, take a look at our guide to having a fire pit on grass.
Tips For Having A Fire Pit On Grass
Tip 1: Safety
Above all else, using a fire pit comes with a serious safety risk unless they are used correctly. Even then, you must ensure that everybody abides by fire pit safety rules, especially if you have pets or young children present.
One of the downsides of placing your fire pit on the lawn is that the surface may not be as level as other things like a paved patio. If you’re lucky enough to have a very level lawn, you’re one of a few. For the most part, lawns will have some lumps and bumps. For this reason, it is essential to find a spot that is as level as possible. Make sure you check out our guide to starting a fire pit.
Tip 2: Ensure The Grass Is Moist
As we mentioned earlier, using a fire pit on grass means that a lot of moisture will be sucked out of the lawn. But all is not lost, by watering the grass before you begin, you will give it a much better chance at remaining moist after the event.
You don’t need to create a mud bath but giving it a generous drink is a good idea. As your fire gets going, the heat will need to draw out the additional moisture before any damage occurs to the grass. If you have the fire running for a long time, there is only so much extra water will do, so be sure to use this tip in conjunction with some of the others.
Tip 3: Don’t Leave The Fire Pit In One Location
If you are going to be using the fire pit on grass regularly, it is a good idea to relocate it with each fire. Leaving it in the same place every time will expose that one area of lawn to damage.
Not only this but if the fire pit is heavy, which many are, it will compress any grass underneath it causing it to die off. Check out our camping fire pit guide.
Tip 4: Place Something Underneath The Fire Pit
Putting something underneath your fire pit will serve you in more ways than one. Primarily, you will be giving an additional layer of protection to the lawn but you will also have the advantage of a much flatter surface. If, as we discussed earlier, the lawn is less than level, this is even more important.
One of the best things you can do is to purchase an elevated fire pit. There are plenty of these on the market and rather than being a large bowl that sits on the ground, they feature taller legs that raise them above ground level. This means that the heat has further to travel to the grass so may not be quite as hot or damaging.
But in any case, you should put something underneath and the most easy and common is a fire pit mat. These can be bought cheaply and are made from a heat resistance material that repels heat away from the grass. Moreover, they are fire resistant, so if a sparked ember makes its way out of the fire and onto the mat, it won’t burn through. These fire mats are lightweight and can be folded for storage so are often the best option where convenience is concerned.
There are also heat shields which act in a similar manner but are typically much larger. The great thing about these is that they are suitable for all surfaces so whether you want the fire pit on grass, decking or anywhere else, they will come in handy. For the most part, these heat shields will resist soaring temperatures up to and beyond 2000ºc but do be sure to check this before you buy to ensure it will be compatible with the heat that your fire pit will produce.
If you have some old paving slabs lying around the garden that you don’t need, these can be used to make a stable base for your fire pit. They can be placed in a grid formation with the pit on top but since they are heavy and will put pressure on the grass, moving the location of the fire pit every time becomes even more important. You can also use bricks for this method, but again, they will need to be moved at the end of each session; after the fire pit has cooled down, of course. We wrote about different fire pit mats in our guide to firepit on decking.
Tip 5: Go For Quality
When you are choosing your fire pit you should try to find one that is made from much higher quality materials. This will be much better for the lawn and will give you a more durable fire pit. But most importantly, when a fire pit is made of better materials, it will likely be far more stable.
Having a stable fire pit will reduce the risk of it toppling over which could see much more significant damage to the grass. If you need a guide to cooking with a fire pit, we've written about that too.
How To Repair Heat Damaged Grass
We’ve all been there; the party is going well into the night and your guests are starting to get a little chilly. You’ve got a fire pit and you’ve got fuel but you don’t have anything to put underneath. But it’ll be OK; just this once. Only, after the fire, you notice that the grass is seemingly damaged beyond repair. What can you do?
Now, the good news is that if you have only had a one-off fire, the grass may come back to life over the course of the next week. However, you will need to help the process by giving it plenty of water and making sure that you remove the fire pit to prevent any further compression damage.
However, if the damage is a little more serious and you’ve given into the temptation of lighting the fire one too many times, you may have your work cut out for you. You should begin by giving the grass a good raking to remove any dead blades. If the surface of the lawn is clogged with debris, this can make it much more difficult for new grass to grow, regardless of what you do.
Now for the bad news; you’re going to need to reseed the area. But grass seed is not difficult to come by nor is it expensive. You’ll want to choose a good quality seed and we find that local councils always have some good recommendations of the products that they use in parks and other public green spaces.
You will need to use around 35g of grass seed for every square metre of damaged lawn. While it is acceptable to simply sprinkle this on and rake it in, burying the seeds will give them the best chance of germination. You might want to overseed into the bordering areas if you want the new grass to blend in well with the surrounding lawn.
Once the seed is down, you’ll need to keep it watered every day. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of water but of course, you will want to avoid overdoing it and creating a sludgy mess. If the weather is very warm with a lot of sun, you might need to commit to watering the lawn more than once a day but you will need to judge this as you go. The most important thing is that you keep the lawn moist at all times.
To further protect the seeded area, it is a good idea to cover it with a mesh lining as small animals and birds can be a real pain and will take a lot of the seed. You can expect the seed to begin sprouting within ten days but full coverage and a lawn that looks as good as it once did may take a little longer.
Consider Building A Permanent Fire Pit
If you don’t have an area that you can safely place your fire pit without causing damage and the lawn is the only viable option, then you might consider installing a permanent fire pit. While this can be more costly and will require much more effort, it will mean that the lawn isn’t at risk of being damaged by heat.
These types of firepit can be built into the lawn meaning that you’ll still be able to have your seating on the grass. However, you may still wish to use a heat shield or mat around the edge to prevent flying embers from causing damage.
It isn’t always possible to place a fire pit on a patio or other area that may not be easily damaged by the heat so a lot of homeowners will use their fire pit on grass. While this is OK, there is a risk that the grass will become damaged. Furtheramore, since the lawn may not be as level, there is a heightened risk of the fire pit toppling over.
aEnsuring that you prepare the grass by wetting it and protect it with a fire mat, heat shield or paving slabs will reduce the risk of heat stress.