Landscaping Around a Fire Pit

Breaking Ground has nearly lost count of the number of fire pits we’ve installed for Omaha area homeowners. However, not everyone comes to us with the same needs. After all, tastes and desires change over time, so the landscaping — and even the hardscaping — that was done in the vicinity of a fire pit often changes too. As you can imagine, landscaping around a fire pit takes more than creativity; it requires care and caution to keep you and your home safe.

Know Your Fire Pit

There are important differences between a store-bought fire pit, a home-made and hand-built DIY project, and one built by a professional landscaper. Each has its own safety guidelines for proper siting and installation, and each will have different requirements for adequate clearance to the sides and above the pit to ensure safety depending on size and shape. Don’t disregard the manufacturer’s or landscaper’s instructions; they’re for your own safety.

Landscaping Concerns

Fire pits give off two different kinds of heat. There’s the direct heat of the open flame, and indirect (radiant) heat given off by surfaces that have been heated by the fire. Each can pose hazards, and influence how you landscape near a fire pit. Here are some common items to keep an eye on as you landscape.


When mulch is kept moist, it does offer some degree of fire resistance. However, it’s very easy for an ember from your fire pit, or even a carelessly-tossed cigarette, to cause a fire. One study in Massachusetts found 184 fires over a five-year period were directly linked to mulch. Interestingly, ground rubber mulch fared worse than its natural counterpart.


River rock, pea gravel, and other natural stone can provide a lovely look to any yard. However, it’s worth taking care to keep some stone a fair distance from your fire pit. River rock and other types of porous stone can retain water; when it’s heated, it can actually explode and harm those in the vicinity. If you’re going to landscape with rock and stone, use rock like slate, granite, or marble that is harder and less permeable.


The area around your fire pit should be kept clear of plants. If there are trees or shrubs in the vicinity, they should be trimmed back; long or low-hanging branches can easily catch fire. Grasses and other ground-hugging plants should be kept a safe distance from the fire pit, as well. And if you’re taking plants, trees, or shrubs out to accommodate a fire pit, be sure to eliminate their root systems as well; while uncommon, root fires around fire pits have been known to happen.

Other Tips

Since safety goes beyond landscaping, there are a few tips to keep in mind regardless of the type of fire pit you have.

– Water on schedule, since plants and grasses that are parched are prime fuel for fires
– Don’t store flammable materials — including outdoor furniture and cushions — close to a fire pit
– Never allow your fire pit to burn unattended
– Always make sure your fire pit is extinguished fully before you go back indoors for the day

If you’re an Omaha homeowner landscaping an area around a fire pit, or desiring a custom fire feature, contact Breaking Ground for a design that is beautiful, functional, and safe.

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