By Erin Coates

With the cold winter months approaching quickly, homeowners are looking for ways to extend the warm summer nights into fall. One great way to continue enjoying the outdoors before the winter rains start is relaxing by a fire pit.

Sitting around a fire, talking with loved ones, traces back to early forms of socialization where stories were shared around a campfire. Jason Huselton from Northwest Pool and Spa credits the longevity of this tradition to people’s desire to stay at home.

“A lot of people are putting their money into their backyard and spending time with their friends and family rather than going on vacation,” Huselton says.

Alan Marchant from A&K Landscaping adds that having a fire pit is almost magnetic. “Everybody loves fire,” he says. “It’s mesmerizing to watch and gather around.”

People tend to purchase fire pits in the fall, in an effort to extend the summer months and continue to enjoy time with family, though Northwest Pool and Spa has the occasional customer who wants to spend winter outside.

To meet the growing demand, Lane Forest Products offers fire pit kits for easy installation. “Lots of people want backyard fire pits,” says Karin Gardner-Gascoyne from Lane Forest Products. “For homeowners, we see a big uptick in the beginning of summer and then again in the fall when the weather cools down a bit.”

A&K Landscaping is usually building fire pits in the springtime so its customers can have them ready to use during the summer nights.

When looking for or designing a fire pit, it is important to consider the size you want based on your backyard and the number of people you plan to have sit around the fire. You should also decide if it is going to be an aesthetic statement or more practical, Huselton says. “Something to consider is, are you looking to actually put off heat? And that can depend on the kind you end up buying.”

Gardner-Gascoyne adds that it is also wise to check that the fire pit you want doesn’t violate local codes and restrictions. According to the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency pamphlet on outdoor burning in Lane County, small recreational fires that are attended at all times do not require a permit, but it is still important to comply with local ordinances and stay safe. “Check your surrounding area and check that you have the space you need to sit around the pit and keep it safe,” she advises.

Marchant says it is also important to know the type of fire pit you want. “Do you want to flick a button and turn it on or do you want wood that takes longer to build up and has smoke?” he asks. Gas fire pits can be less of a nuisance to neighbors who might not like the smoke.

Fire pits across Lane County come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, depending on the pit owner’s needs and design preferences. “We generally like to sell fire pits that are more modern with newer designs,” Huselton says. “We try to make people understand that there is more out there than just a brick-bound fireplace.”

Customers bring their own designs, too. “There are so many different ideas out there because of the HGTV shows,” Marchant says. “Customers show us a picture and we create it.”

Placing a fire pit in the backyard will not only help extend those summer nights into fall, but will also create a great place to make lasting memories. “My kids are now 20-plus, and I’m thinking of all the times that our friends have extended their nights around the fire,” Gardner-Gascoyne says. “It’s a wonderful way to sit and talk and be social, with or without marshmallows.”