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Gathering with family and friends around a fire pit is one of the great joys of outdoor living. Whether your space is formal or casual, a fire is irresistible. It’s the perfect setting for creating wonderful memories. But, “where” to put everyone is sometimes a challenge. Here are 4 seating options for your fire pit in Wheaton and Hinsdale, IL, areas.
Related: 4 Seating Options For Your Fire Pit in Wheaton and Hinsdale IL Areas
Adirondack chairs are the classic fire pit seating options. They are stylish, in a casual and friendly way, and the main benefit is that everyone can be as close to the fire as they like. Some people may love to sit close to the fire, while others prefer to keep their distance and only occasionally put their feet up to warm them.
The challenge with large chairs (whether they are Adirondack-style or cushioned lounge chairs) is that there is only so much space around a fire pit. The area can quickly become very crowded, which can make navigating around the fire pit a challenge.
The ideal situation for using Adirondack chairs around the fire pit is if the fire pit itself is large (so that nobody is pushed out to the perimeter), and that there is ample space around the fire pit to comfortably position enough chairs for the whole crew.
2. Wooden Benches
Wooden benches offer more seating for a larger group of people, since several people can share a single bench. They can be moved closer or further from the fire (as long as the bench’s occupants all agree), and they eliminate the cluttered feeling of a chair-filled space. The downside is that they may not have backrests, which can get uncomfortable after a while. If you choose to have benches around your fire pit, opt for benches with backrests. This will keep the party going longer! Benches are also better suited to a larger fire pit area with ample space to position the benches for optimal comfort.
3. Seat Walls
Seat walls are the masonry version of wooden benches. They partially surround the fire pit, which means you’ll still have an “entry point” to the fire area that can accommodate one or two freestanding chairs. Seat walls serve to create a defined fire pit area that visually ties in with the rest of the patio. However, there are a few important drawbacks to seat walls: they are not particularly comfortable for extended fireside chats, unless you provide cushions to sit on. They often don’t have backrests, which again gets uncomfortable. And, they cannot be repositioned to suit individuals. Seat walls are great if you have limited space and want to avoid clutter around the fire pit.
4. High-back Seat Walls
Seat walls with a backrest serve the same space-defining function as backless seat walls. In addition, they create a cozier - and warmer - space since the heat from the fire pit reflects off the back rests. All in all it’s a more intimate and welcoming experience. Again, you’ll need to provide cushions to sit on, and people won’t be able to adjust their proximity to the fire. However, this is a stylish way to create a conversation-pit style fire area. In fact, fire pits with high-back masonry seating can be positioned lower than the rest of the outdoor living areas (recessed into the ground, or on a slope) for a dramatic miniature amphitheater effect.
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If you’re looking to spend more time outdoors next season - and spend more time enjoying your outdoor space and less time working on it - now is the ideal time to plan a landscape that won’t eat up your free time. Here are 3 landscape design ideas for low maintenance landscaping in Wheaton, IL.
Related: 3 Patio Ideas For Fall Flair in Hinsdale and Naperville IL Areas
Replace the Lawn with Low-Maintenance Options
Lawns are gorgeous, but they’re the prima donnas of landscapes. It’s estimated that Americans spend, on average, 70 hours each year on lawn care, not to mention a disproportionate amount of water and chemicals just to keep the lawn alive. Considering that this average figure also factors in people who don’t have a lawn or pay a lawn service, the number of people who have lawns and care for them is much higher than 70 hours each year.
Low-maintenance softscape options abound, and the best choices begin with native plants that are ideally suited to the Illinois climate. Water-wise natives range from ground covers to ornamental grasses, annuals, perennials, shrubs, climbing vines, and trees. Not only do native plants add beauty with their huge diversity of shapes, colors, and textures, they also don’t need much from you.
A few ideas for beautiful natives include: Big Bluestem (an ornamental grass); Blazing Star (a tall flowering perennial); Milkweed (a favorite for pollinator gardens); Prairie Phlox (a perennial perfectly suited for woodland-to-meadow transitional areas); Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (you’ll love the stunning spring flowers); Chokecherry or Chokeberry (a shrub with beautiful fall foliage and bird-attracting berries); Buttonbush (a butterfly-attracting shrub); Sweet Fern (an unusual shrub with gorgeous fall color); Sweet Gale (a shrub with leaves that exude a lovely fragrance when crushed); and New Jersey Tea (yes, you can make tea from the leaves).
Native trees such as American Hophornbeam, Eastern Redbud, River Birch, Downy Serviceberry, and Carolina Silverbell are a few trees that are perfectly suited to local climate and soil conditions.
Raised Bed Masonry Gardens
If you enjoy gardening but want to make life a bit easier, consider a few masonry raised bed planters. Pollinator gardens, edible gardens, herb gardens, or annual gardens are just a few examples of what you can do in a confined space - with virtually no weeding needed!
Raised masonry planters can be used to divide living spaces, add privacy (when filled with taller ornamental grasses, climbing vines, or evergreen shrubs), and create attractive green areas in otherwise awkward corners of the backyard.
Expand Your Outdoor Living Space
To enjoy your free time more, expand your outdoor living space - the patio or deck. You can still have a wonderfully lush and interesting landscape filled with a variety of plants, but less lawn and fewer fussy plants that demand your attention when you’d rather be relaxing or entertaining.
One trend involves creating multi-level outdoor living spaces that are adjacent to one another. For example, you could keep an attractive paver patio as it is, and add on a slightly elevated deck with a pergola-covered lounge area.
Another option is to create one or two additional outdoor “rooms” that are completely separate from the main patio and connect them with walkways. Tuck an outdoor fireplace into a corner of the property, add comfortable seating and a small beverage fridge, and you’ll have an amazing destination that creates a more intimate conversation area and replaces some of your lawn as well.
Either of these options can be surrounded by vegetation for a more intimate feel, or left more open and expansive.
Related: Adding a Brick Patio to a Traditional Landscape Design in Naperville IL
Fall is all about warm colors and warm interactions with people. But, that doesn’t mean hunkering down indoors! Here are 3 patio ideas for fall flair in Hinsdale and Naperville, IL, areas. These tips will let you enjoy the coziness of crisp fall days while you admire nature’s splendor.
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Fall is often considered the most beautiful season in Illinois. It’s the tantalizing beginning of the holiday season yet still retains the warmth of summer. Even though nature is getting ready to take a break, you can still make great memories with family and friends on your patio. Here’s what you need to spruce up your patio this season.
What’s more special than gathering around a fire pit or outdoor fireplace with people you love, wrapping yourself in a cozy blanket and sipping a mug of hot cocoa? Fall days are often still quite warm but evenings bring an unmistakable chill. Don’t send everyone scurrying indoors when the sun dips below the horizon. Invite them to sit together by the fire!
A fire pit will give your patio a relaxed campfire feel that’s about as casual as it gets. Fire pits allow everyone to share in the warmth and can be either wood fired for authentic campfire ambience, or gas- or propane-fueled for convenience and safety. You can, if you’re careful, still roast marshmallows over a gas fire pit - just be sure to choose fire pit materials that are easy to clean (pebbles instead of lava rock, for example).
A fireplace is a more formal addition to your patio. This is a fire feature that can easily be decorated for every season and can be wood-, propane-, or gas-fueled.
A fire table brings a level of sophistication to your patio. Fire tables are meant to do double duty as a coffee, dining, or bar-height table where people share food and drinks so they are gas- or propane-fueled. Add red, orange, and yellow colored decorative glass to bring a festive atmosphere to your fire table.
While you can always use portable fire features to warm up your patio, permanent fire features are more stylish and durable. Combined with a new seat wall, masonry fire features will totally transform your patio into the “hot spot” to spend your time.
A Colorful Trellis and Arbor
If your patio feels too exposed, consider adding a trellis on one or more sides. This will block ugly views (or nosy neighbors), provide a wind break from chilly fall breezes, and it’s an opportunity to showcase fall colors. Climbing vines like Virginia Creeper, roses, or hops create a gorgeous living wall all season and their vibrant fall reds, oranges, and purples make for a stunning backdrop to outdoor living.
An arbor between two trellises is another opportunity to grow colorful climbing vines and to lean a few corn husks to honor the season’s bounty.
Another way to make your patio “the” place to be in fall is to add a seat wall. This is a great way to add seating without clutter (in the colder months, be sure to provide colorful blankets or cushions to sit on), and what better place to showcase the family’s pumpkin carvings! Seat walls can also be decorated with colorful containers filled with hardy ornamental grasses, evergreens, or creeping ground covers.
A seat wall can curve around a fire pit, or it can serve as a patio boundary. Using a seat wall to enclose your patio gives you a wonderful sense of cozy enclosure without blocking views. It also gives your patio vertical interest and timeless charm.
Related: Adding a Brick Patio to a Traditional Landscape Design in Naperville IL