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February is a wonderful time for planning renovations to your great outdoors.

It’s cold outside; there may be snow blanketing the landscape … but your freedom to dream about backyard possibilities can safely take wing from the comfort of your living room easy chair.

February is planning time for Tree Amigos teams, too. Our family of clients is busy working on concept designs for all sorts of projects, from patios to waterfalls to driveways or pergolas. One feature in particular we see becoming more popular among our clients is the fire feature.

Using gas, propane or gel to power a fire feature takes it well beyond the aesthetics of a campfire-style pit. You know the kind we mean, with rocks surrounding a pit dug into the ground and lined with more rocks … the kind we all knew and loved as children.

In Niagara, most municipalities have bylaws disallowing the use of open fire or pit-style fireplaces in the outdoors. Wood-burning fire features, except in masonry fireplaces, are discouraged, with a few exceptions in some municipalities based on the zoning in which your home resides. In Niagara Falls, for example, cooking fires using coal or gas in devices that have lids are permitted, while open-pit fireplaces are not allowed.

Before planning your fire feature, it’s a good idea to go over your municipality’s burning bylaw, so you know what you can and can’t incorporate into your plan.

Propane- or natural gas-powered features may be excepted, as they are controlled externally and contained in enclosed features. Each municipality is different, so as we suggested, it’s good to check your bylaws, first.

That said, there are so many different designs from which to choose, planning is difficult: They all look great!

However, one of the tips our Tree Amigos staff offers is to incorporate your fire feature using the existing style of your patio or outdoor seating area. Got a stone patio? Why not choose a fire feature made of similar stone, in a column or bowl style, or even an outdoor fireplace complete with chimney? 

Truly, the possibilities are endless. Here are just a few of the fire feature designs with which our teams have worked: Fire and water feature combined; bowl-style and column-style stone feature; outdoor masonry fireplace with chimney; fire feature as part of a stone wall; chiminea-style fireplace and fire table, both low and tall.

Fuels we have accommodated range from timber to charcoal; propane; natural gas; bio-ethanol and gel sources. It all depends on where you live, and what your city or town allows. Since our Tree Amigos teams work throughout Niagara, we can usually help with deciphering your municipality’s bylaws as to what is allowed, and what isn’t.

Another tip our teams offer is to imagine what uses you foresee in your fire feature. If your family imagines clustering around a fire pit, making s’mores, you may prefer a low fire table over a chiminea-style feature. If, however, you use your backyard for entertaining and wish to warm just a patio with your fire feature, you might consider a tall propane-powered warmer over a fire feature – although some fire features do heat up an area very well (and we think they’re much prettier than a patio heater!).

The final tip our teams offer is to consider your family and each member’s safety needs. If you have small children, for example, you may wish to keep your fire feature inaccessible to little fingers. This may mean designing it to sit a little higher, as in a tall fire table, or planning a feature with wide ledges that prevent small arms from reaching in.

All these considerations are part of the planning-ahead process, the time you set aside to look through magazines; watch videos; visit websites to see what other families just like yours have done with their fire features. You’ll get ideas; come up with questions to ask; figure out your preferred materials and fuels, and develop a confidence in your own choices.

And don’t forget: Our Tree Amigos teams are here to help! 


Is it time to plan the addition of your backyard fire feature? If the answer is a resounding “yes!,” we’d love to answer any questions you might have.

Contact the Tree Amigos office at 905-937-5353. You can email questions to, or fill out the page to request a quote for services on our website, via

Want to see some of our favourite projects from last season? Visit the Houzz app at and put our name in the search bar. You’ll find photos of our fire features; landscaping design; stonework; decks and much more.