Firebowls for Smaller Gardens

As the weather improves, it’s more tempting to spend time in your garden, particularly in the evenings. There’s nothing better than taking the time to relax outside, and adding a heater to your garden or patio will make your garden even more welcoming, even in cooler weather. Chimineas and firebowls are becoming very popular, due to concerns about the ecological impact of gas-fuelled patio heaters, and eco-friendly heaters are both cost-effective and add real character to any garden.

Firebowl Basics

A firebowl is an unusual alternative to a chiminea and is particularly convenient for those of us with smaller gardens. They can be easily tidied away after use and clay and steel models are available in a range of designs. A firebowl will be an important design element, so it’s worth taking the time to choose one which will complement your garden or patio. Make a real centrepiece by placing a firebowl in the centre of your patio space, or a create a paved area in the centre of your garden around which you can arrange seating for after-dinner drinks with friends. Many firebowls also come with a removable grill, which means they can double as an occasional barbecue. Some steel models have a mesh spark guard which makes these a safer option around children and pets, although of course the normal fire safety precautions should be taken, as with any open fire.

If the firebowl is near the house, you might want to consider a smokeless or virtually smokeless fuel, such as eco-friendly heat logs. For the really eco-friendly option, you can make logs or briquettes from household and garden waste, reducing both landfill and your carbon footprint.

Steel Firebowls

Steel firebowls are a good choice if you’re looking for a more modern design for your heating feature. They’re also much more durable than clay firebowls, and they’ll burn any type of fuel. If you’re concerned about rust, consider one with an enamel coating.

Steel firebowls heat up fast and make great patio heaters.

  • Steel firebowls often have a very modern design, and are tougher and lighter than clay.
  • Mesh spark guards and barbecue grills are common features.
  • While they will require some basic assembly, they’re comparitively light and convenient to transport.
  • They should still be protected from bad weather. Lining the bowl with a thin layer of pumice stones or sand will keep your firebowl in pristine condition.

Steel firebowls will burn any fuel, including charcoal. Never use an accelerant. Start the fire with some balled-up paper or a broken heat log, then gradually add more fuel.

Clay Firebowls

Clay fire bowls are inspired by traditional Mayan and Aztec art. They’re available in a range of subdued earth and clay tones, and can add a unique ethnic touch to your garden or patio. The main benefit of clay firebowls is that the clay is an excellent conductor of heat and, though it won’t heat up as quickly as steel, it will retain the heat for a long time after the fire has been extinguished.

If you’re undecided about whether to choose a chiminea or a firebowl, some smaller clay chimineas have a detachable upper half which can simply be lifted off if you want to use it as a firebowl, and replaced if you want to use it as a chiminea.

Clay firebowls should be protected from the weather as the clay is slightly porous and will absorb some water if left out in the rain.

  • Clay firebowls tend to come in Mayan and Aztec designs and natural earth colours.
  • They often come with barbecue grills.
  • Much like steel firebowls, they should be protected from bad weather and kept in a shed or under cover when not in use.
  • They should be only used for burning relatively low-temperature fuels, such as heat logs, household and garden waste, seasoned timber, and other similar fuels. Lining the bowl with a thin layer of pumice stones or sand is absolutely essential.
  • Only ever use a thoroughly dry clay firebowl.

Always ensure a firebowl is cool before attempting to clean and move it, and apply the usual precautions when children and pets are around.

A firebowl should provide years of use, ideal for smaller gardens and outdoor spaces.

Laura Phillips is an outdoor living enthusiast and writes for

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