Adventures in Fire Safety: The Fire Pit

Guest Post by: Mackenzie Kupfer

I’ve done quite a bit of landscaping in the last couple of years. I’ve taken out garden beds and replaced them with ornamental grasses, I’ve divvied up my vegetable patch into a more orderly state of chaos, and, best of all, I’ve added several large stone features. On top of these stone features, I was giddy to perch my brand new fire pit around which I’ve gathered friends for cookouts and star gazing. So enamored was I with my fire pit that I completely failed to make sure my yard wasn’t a tinderbox waiting to light up my neighborhood.

The Incident

 Picture a cozy June evening on which the temperature has dipped low after the sunset. Picture a group of friends around a charming fire, drinking wine. Picture the s’mores and the laughter and the music.

 Now picture a flaming marshmallow careening onto a dry patch of native grass. Picture the stunned moment just before it catches, and then picture the sacrifice of two perfectly good glasses of wine to drown the flame.

 If I had been on top of things, I would have been paying attention to the dry patches in my yard in relation to the fire pit. But, because of my negligence, I was spooked into doing what I should have all along- taking a preventative approach to my irrigation.

 The Solution

 I’ve been a gardener for my entire life and tended yards covered in Kentucky bluegrass and yards consisting of artistic gravel. Never before had I come across a fire problem. This one little incident showed me that I needed to update my sprinkler habits, else I would chance roasting my yard, my home, and my neighborhood.

 My first step was to assess where my driest areas were. A quick scouting of the yard helped identify that there were spots that didn’t get as much water from either my sprinklers or from rain. For these spots, I pulled out my old hose sprinkler to make up for the lack of coverage. For the others, I checked and cleaned my sprinkler heads and made sure they were safe from the lawn mower.

 My second step was to move some of my more flammable ornamental grasses away from the fire area. I had been happy with the way my garden was set up and it hurt me to have to move such beautiful plants, but safety became my priority.

 My third step was to adjust my watering habits. Now when I host shindigs around the fire pit, I run my sprinkler system for around 20 minutes beforehand. This allows my yard to be nice and saturated and resistant to bursting into flame.

 The Lesson

 The moral of the story is to be aware of what your landscaping and garden design choices mean for safety.

 My fire pit has been a fun addition to my yard, but it also takes a little bit of precaution to use it safely. If you decide to install a fire pit, make sure your yard is ready for it, in case any rogue, flaming marshmallows make a dive for it.

Mackenzie Kupfer is a writer and gardener. She knows first-hand that with great yard entertainment comes great responsibility. Learn from her mishaps

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