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For The Home

Outdoor Fireplace

Author: Valerie Slade
Issue: October, 2012, Page 144
Photo by Art Holeman


When landscape designer Bennett McGregor began work on a yard with an outdoor fireplace, he envisioned it as more than just a gathering place for cool Arizona nights. “I wanted to have a living sculpture in the space. The fireplace and its shape gave me that opportunity,” he remarks.

The location of the fireplace and its orientation toward the east provide optimum light conditions for growing plants. “Choosing the right plant for the space is typically the most important factor in a plant surviving and looking good,” McGregor notes. He opted for creeping fig, a vine that naturally attaches itself as it climbs. Here, it winds up and around the fireplace. At the base of the structure is a planting bed with a water emitter to irrigate the vine.

“I thought that there was a great juxtaposition between the fire and its energy, wrapped inside of the leafy-green calm of the vine,” the designer shares. He also points out that the contrast between the delicate vine and the tall, heavy fireplace—which acts as a support for the patio overhang—creates a balance between nature and architecture. In order to soften the appearance of the fireplace and add greenery to the yard, McGregor surrounded the area with additional planting beds.

Although the landscape designer worked around an existing fireplace for his project, he suggests starting from scratch. “Create the structure first. Then, depending on the location and solar orientation, choose a plant that is best-suited for the space.”
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