Light my Fire

Light my Fire 

Creating elements of intrigue in the garden 

The fire pit trend has continued globally for some years now and continues to feature internationally in many garden designers work seemingly ingrained in the modern landscape setting. I have had and continue to get many requests from clients asking me to incorporate the magical element of fire into my garden landscapes.

Fire pits do not only contain and stop the spread of wildfires, but they have also become a decorative element in the modern landscape garden setting and in South Africa we often call the fire pit a Boma.

The roots of the word boma dates back to pre-colonial Africa describing an enclosure for livestock, a stockade, a small fort or a government office. Traditionally built out of branches, in the African Great Lakes, Central and Southern Africa.

Before the days of Netflix… Millennia mankind would gather around open-air fires, the boma would offer a place to cook and learn folklore and local traditions. A gathering place for warmth, light and protection from both the elements and wild animals stalking out in the dark. 

Style and geometry

For me, there are many versions and interpretations of the modern garden Boma. you might have everything already at home and it might be as simple as reworking stones and rocks and reorganising garden furniture in an area of your garden that is cleared of existing flammable surrounding vegetation, levelled with a gravel or a paved surface with few garden deck chairs or tree stump seats around a fire brassier.  

However, in the modern garden landscape, the Boma has become so much more, and hours of design go into creating the perfect ambiance, here are a few points to consider when planning your own Garden Boma.  


When picking out the perfect place for your garden Boma, keep in mind that it should be an adequate distance from your home to avoid accidentally catching anything on fire, remember to always install it away from any covered verandas or even low-hanging tree limbs. Find a location in your garden to build your fire pit so that you can easily see and monitor from the indoors. You’ll be better able to monitor if your guests need anything and can also be aware of any incidents that might require your immediate attention.

You could also consider incorporating your Boma into a part of a larger patio or swimming pool area to further enlarge your entertaining space. Wherever you ultimately decide to install your fire pit, be sure to take into account your typical wind speed and direction. Nothing ruins a good party quite like half of the crowd being blasted with smoke every few minutes. Even if you opt for a gas-powered pit, your radius of heat could still be blown off proportion by a strong crosswind.

Designing the Perfect Fire Pit Seating and shape 

Traditionally fire pits have taken on a rounder shape however modern day firepits should work with all styles of architecture and can be round, square geometric even abstract, sunken or raised.

There are many different elements to think about and incorporate into the perfect design, but most of all it should be a relaxing place for people to lounge. The best way to create this type of atmosphere is comfy seating.

While it can be difficult to determine just what type of seating to use, let your fire pit be the guide and develop the seating around a layout that is social so that people can talk across from each other. 

Remember to add cushions and a few strategically placed side tables around your seating area to ensure that guests always have a place to set their drinks and snacks. 

Materials are also important when designing your firepit and set the mood, for a more natural look. You could also incorporate elements of nature and use natural materials in the construction of your seating or use crushed stone underneath. 

Tiling your Boma – Blurring the lines between the outside and indoors, you can help your guests feel right at home around the blazing fire. This way, they can enjoy the rusticity of “roughing it” in nature, while also enjoying the amenities and comforts of home they’re used to.

With all of these elements above, there’s no way you won’t stay cosy this winter. 

By Gregory Mark, Landscape Designer

IG: @gregorymarklandscapes