Heating Things Up in your Back Yard

Ideas for Heating your Patio

Expand the use of your back yard by adding an element of warmth to the mix. Whether you choose to enjoy the captivating allure of open flame or the comfort of radiant heat, you can encourage the extended enjoyment of outdoor gatherings well into the night … and further into the fall or winter season. Here is a selection of the most popular options for outdoor heating:

propane patio heater

Patio Heaters

Patio heaters can be either electric powered or fueled by propane or natural gas.

  • Electric Patio Heaters – Often can be slightly less mobile than propane heaters. Many times these are mounted on the wall or overhead around the patio. However there are also more portable table top and freestanding options. Look for infrared heat models for comforting warmth that uses less energy.
  • Propane Patio Heaters – Typically very portable, these free standing units provide heat over a wide area. You will find small table top units that run off of a 1 lb. tank of liquid propane, or tall units that store a standard 20 lb. liquid propane tank. Newer pyramid or triangle heaters are also typically fueled by propane, these display a vertical column of flame safely housed within a glass tube.
  • Natural Gas Patio Heaters – These heaters need to be permanently mounted so that the gas line can be piped to them. There are a variety of styles and sizes that range from wall and ceiling mounted radiators to tall column or pyramid options. Keep in mind that these models will require professional installation to connect up the gas line. Some propane heaters can be adapted to natural gas heaters with a conversion kit.
rocking chairs by patio fireplace wicker chairs by outdoor fireplace

Outdoor Fireplaces

Professional planning and installation are required for this option, but the investment results in a lasting fixture in your yard that you’ll gather around and cherish for many years to come. Outdoor fireplaces offer a permanent and cozy feel to your outside living spaces. Built into the back of your house, attached to a walled patio kitchen enclosure or freestanding, they offer a stunning focal point and efficient heat source.

built in stone backyard firepit

Built-in Backyard Fire Pit

Similar to backyard fireplaces, a built-in fire pit is typically constructed of stone, pavers or cement. It can be plumbed for natural gas, run on propane or designed for burning wood. This requires planning and possibly professional construction. As with backyard fireplaces, a built-in fire pit will remain in its fixed location.

wicker sectional fire pit set

Fire Pit Tables

These popular tables are typically fueled by propane or natural gas. Some conversation sets include a fire pit table styled to perfectly coordinate with the seating.

Popular patio add-ons, fire pits offer plenty of ideas for upgrading your backyard. If you already have seating, purchase a stand-alone table that complements your existing patio furniture. Look for a table that includes a cover for the recessed pit area to keep out debris and expand the table surface when you aren’t using the fire.

small modern table top fireplace

Tabletop Fire Bowls and Tabletop Fireplaces

Portable and enticing, these atmosphere enhancers are more for show than warmth. These petite décor additions can be just 6” in diameter to three times that size and can sit on top of your outdoor coffee table or patio dining table. Often tabletop models are fueled with flame gel or ethanol fuel, some of the larger models are designed to hook up to propane tanks.


Free-standing chimeneas are inexpensive, fully enclosed and easy to add to your porch or patio. These wood burning ovens produce warming heat more efficiently than more openly burning options because of their chimney shape. Additionally smoke is reduced and wood burns for longer because there is less oxygen available. However, because they are enclosed the flames are not as visible to those sitting near them. If you are looking for an efficient source to warm your outside seating area, a chimenea would be a great option. These clay or metal features can be placed near patio seating to take the chill off and can have a quaint or modern look to them. If you prefer to have the ambiance of open flame dancing across a wide open area than you would be happier by selecting a different option.

backyard fire ring

Fire Rings

Simple, smaller and less expensive than other options, fire rings are bottomless and designed sit on the ground to contain the fire, wood and coals of a wood burning fire. Find a clearing in your yard to situate one of these simple rings and add some patio chairs to create a cozy conversation area. This is the closest you can get to sitting around a campfire or beach bonfire in your own backyard. Some come with grill toppers that allow you to cook food as well.

blue fire glass

Fire Glass

For a modern look that enhances the allure of the dancing flames choose fire glass for your gas or propane fueled fire pit or fire bowl. Available in a wide range of colors and shapes, fire glass radiates the beauty of the flames when in use and can tie into your patio décor color scheme when it’s not. Even if you have an older model fire pit or fireplace, consider replacing the lava rock with fire glass. This is a quick and easy way to give your backyard heating a contemporary facelift.

Final Thoughts

Whether you select a portable model or construct a built in solution, adding a fire element or heat source to your back yard will mean increasing the use of your outdoor living space. Stay warm and cozy on cool evenings while roasting marshmallows with the family or snuggling up with someone special under the starry skies.