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Tuesday, September 5, 2017 AnnualsJust for Fun!

Adding Plants Near a Backyard Fire Pit

Backyard Fire PitAhh, an outdoors fire. It’s warming and romantic and it illuminates the darkness. So when we built a deck onto the back of our house last year, I knew I wanted a fire pit incorporated as part of the backyard. We have a wooden deck so we opted for a propane-powered model that looks like a piece of furniture during the day and transformed into a flame-y centerpiece at night. It’s as easy as a grill to fire it up when we want it and click off when we are done: fire on demand.

Our seating area is intimate: we have two benches and two chairs, so we can fit six people around the fire easily. It’s the ideal place for cool spring and fall nights, and positively warming in the winter.

It looked a little austere in the daytime, so we dressed it up with plants that wouldn’t get in the way of drinks or s’more making at night. 

Succulent Container GardenSince the outdoor fire pit is black, we added two matching square charcoal-gray planters and filled them with succulents to offer a bit of texture. They look great from the side and from above and grow slowly so they won't overstep their containers during the summer. 

The low, square planters also serve as a barrier at the edge of the deck—urging seaters to exit toward the inside of the deck, rather than down the stairs, which might be tricky in the dark. 

Oyster Shells in pot

Since we’re coastal folks now, I replaced the red lava rocks that surround the fire coil in the fire pit with sun-bleached oyster shells for a little Gulf twist.

A side table features a container that we can switch out when we want to change color schemes—we had a showy hot-pink kalanchoe all spring. In summer, we pop in a pot of red geraniums. And in autumn, we’ll change it out with a flowering kale. The container holds 6-inch pots, so all we have to do is shop color and size and it’s an easy seasonal change out.

We also have a container with a purple-black sweet potato vine (try 'SolarPower Black' or 'Floramia Rosso') to add a little color and a foliar separation between the screened porch and the seating area. A trellis in the pot allows this easy-care vigorous vine to grow upward all summer. 

If you want to add plants around your fire pit, consider night and day area use:

Night Use
Think about your seating area after dark: fire illuminates the area, but it is still shadowy.
  > Choose heavy planters so they can take a bump or two from people edging by in the dark.
  > Position plants away from the heat of the fire.

Day Use
Chances are you won’t light the fire during the daylight hours, so the seating area décor is dependent on color you add.
  > Coordinate flower colors with toss pillows or bench cushions to create a theme (use trendy combinations such as blue/white, hot pink/orange, teal/brown)
  > Consider changeable color schemes by starting with neutral pot colors (gray, black, white) and adding bright flowers (red, pink, blue)

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