Backyard Heating: 10 Smart Ways to Warm Up Your Patio

Extend time spent outdoors—from hours to months—with the addition of a fire feature or other heat source for your patio, deck, or backyard. It can create a focal point, serves as a place around which to gather, entertain, relax, and enjoy time outdoors.

A fire pit or another way to warm up your outdoor space can vary in price: custom-designed hearths and pits with elaborate features and materials can be expensive. You can also buy a simple fire pit or chimenea for around $100 to $200 that will do the job. It pays to do your research and not buy impulsively.

Your choice of fuels should be determined not only by preference but by local wood-burning laws and codes; check with your city or county. Environmental choices are butane or gas, which will need to be hooked up by a professional.

If you want to, it's entirely possible to spend more time outdoors. Consider the following ideas to warm up your world.

  • 01 of 11

    Fire Pit

    modern chairs by fire pit
    Jeremy Samuelson / Getty Images

    Because of their portability, low cost, and ease of use, fire pits have become the most popular type of outdoor fire feature. Traditionally designed to be situated low to the ground, they can be built or bought in any shape or size and with a variety of materials. Wood-burning types are popular, but fire pits that are fueled by propane or gas are a greener choice and better for air quality. Some regions ban wood, so check with your city or county for wood-burning laws. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides information and links to many regional wood-burning ordinances and regulations.

  • 02 of 11

    Custom-Built Fireplace

    modern outdoor fireplace
    Modern outdoor fireplace. Jeremy Samuelson/Getty Images

    Not only is a fireplace a focal point for a backyard or garden, it also creates a sense of permanence. Add seating and a low table, and the space becomes a true outdoor living room. Whether you opt to have a fireplace custom built, make it a do-it-yourself project, or buy a prefab unit, time and research will give you the best results. 

    Materials range from brick, stone, concrete, or metal, while it can be fueled by gas or wood. When considering location, think about low-hanging trees and shrubs, nearby structures, and whether the wind will blow smoke in your neighbor's yard.

  • 03 of 11

    Portable Fireplace

    couple on patio with fireplace
    Thinkstock Images / Getty Images

    A portable or prefab fireplace is a smart choice for a smaller outdoor space or if you plan to move and want to take your fireplace with you. Again, check wood-burning regulations in your area; propane or gas may be the way to go.

  • 04 of 11

    Hot Tubs and Spas

    people in hot tub in snow
    Hot tubbing in the snow. Chris Clinton/Getty Images

    That bubbling tub heated up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit is waiting for you, just outside on the patio or deck. Even if it's snowing, a spa or hot tub will quickly warm you up and can relax sore muscles. Just make sure you have a warm robe, slippers, and a towel nearby for when you decide to exit.

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  • 05 of 11

    Pool or Spa with Fire Feature

    rectangle pool

    Modern custom-built swimming pools and spas with fire features blend water and fire for a dramatic effect when the sun goes down. Whether you swim at night or just want to cozy up to the fire and gaze at the water is up to you. 

  • 06 of 11

    Heated Floors

    family on deck
    Family playing on backyard deck. David Jakel/Getty Images

    Extend the season of your deck or patio with radiant heating. While it's something that is more often associated with interiors, it's gaining popularity with outdoor surfaces as well.

    Systems can be installed to warm up patios and decks, or even melt snow. A professional should install radiant flooring systems. 

  • 07 of 11


    chimenea in yard
    Chiminea in backyard. Claire Takacs/Getty Images

    A chimenea (also chiminea) is an inexpensive fire feature made of clay or metal. Make sure it is sturdy (not tippy), and that it has a spark screen. Chimney extensions will help vent the smoke if you want to place your chimenea on a patio or porch.

  • 08 of 11

    Outdoor Kitchen

    brick outdoor kitchen
    Brick outdoor kitchen. Chuck Schmidt/Getty Images

    President Harry S. Truman once said, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Making this the place you want to be on a chilly day, especially if you happen to be outdoors. A grill, brick pizza oven, or other outdoor cooking appliance will quickly heat up things. Plus, those delicious aromas will make your guests want to hang out on the patio.

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  • 09 of 11

    Heat or Patio Lamps

    house with outdoor lamp
    Outdoor heat lamp on patio. Jim Kruger/Getty Images

    Portable patio heaters are tall, don't take up much room, and are usually fueled by propane. You've probably been warmed by one on the patio of a restaurant. An average unit can heat up an area of 15 to 25 square feet. They're nice to have around if you dine outdoors often.

  • 10 of 11

    Outdoor Rugs and Blankets

    couple on rug on deck
    Couple warms up on rug on deck. Conny Marshaus/Getty Images

    While an indoor/outdoor rug is not going to provide the same amount of warmth as a fire pit or patio heater, it does help make a patio or deck appear cozier. Add a blanket or throw and snuggle with a friend, and quickly forget about the cold. Bring it with you when you go back indoors.

  • 11 of 11

    Hot Beverages and a Warm Friend

    woman with dog on porch
    Woman cuddles dog on porch. Dennis Kleinman/Getty Images

    Baby, it's cold outside. So, grab your favorite person or animal and cuddle on the porch or patio. Dress warmly and have a blanket or throw handy. Make a nice, hot cup of tea or coffee, or try one of these hot beverage recipes: