Man’s fascination with fire goes back to caveman days: from its practical qualities of warming, cooking and illumination, to the time-honoured ritual of gathering around a fire to talk or dream, there is something fundamental in its appeal.
Here in the UAE, of course, a hearth is not a necessary or wanted feature within our homes, but in the garden, it’s proving to be a different matter. In recent years, the popularity of outdoor fire features has grown apace – be it to act as a striking focal point in the darkness, or to provide a defined area for outdoor entertaining, especially on winter evenings when the temperature in the desert drops. From fire pits with surrounding seating areas to dramatic fire bowls that define a space, or even al fresco sitting rooms with a fireplace at the heart, these flickering additions are fast becoming a garden must-have.
They have practical merit too. Unlike traditional fires, which depend on wood, today’s flames are achieved via a gas or ethanol (liquid) alternative – not only fast and safer, but with ecological and practical merit too. And with a design or size to suit a cosy terrace or a sweeping lawn, there’s no reason not to light up the night…
All fired up
Before you invest in a flaming beauty, consider these points from Calvin Platfoot, managing director of Gulf Leisure:
Think ahead. If possible, incorporate your plans for a fire feature at the start of a landscaping project. That means necessary work can be carried out easily instead of disrupting an established garden layout.
Consider safety. Take fire features seriously – ensure that you have a fire blanket close by in case of accidents; be sure not to let it come into contact with flammable materials, and leave reasonable space between the fire and seating areas. Never leave children or pets unsupervised, and consider installing safety glass as a precaution around, or in front of, the feature. A child-friendly on/off switch is also essential.
Look after it. Quality fire features start from around Dh3,000 – but then the sky’s the limit depending on how much you are prepared to spend. It makes sense, then, to maintain it regularly – at least once a year. Your supplier should be able to provide a professional cleaning and maintenance service.