A romantic bonfire in the garden with campfire stories and maybe music – but what do you need to consider? To make it a pleasant evening, we have a few tips for you in this article.
What you should know about bonfires
When you think of a bonfire in your backyard, you probably think of marshmallows or stick bread, campfire stories and guitar music on a balmy summer evening. To help you build a nice campfire in your backyard without danger, we have a few tips for you.
You have the choice between a fire bowl, a fire basket or a fire pit. Information on the legal basis, which will help you decide, follows in the next paragraph.
A fire pit is usually more of a long-term thing, while the fire bowl and fire basket are easier to set up and take down.
The fire bowl or fire basket should be made of a solid material such as stainless steel, cast iron or concrete.
Place your fire bowl so that it cannot tip over. It is important to have a level surface for this.
Choose a location for your fire bowl or bonfire that will not create a fire hazard for the surrounding area. Sometimes a spark or a gust of wind can be enough for the flames to leap up and ignite a dry meadow. Move at least 100 yards away from a forest and, if possible, stand close to a water access.
The surrounding area should not be very dry, that is, easily ignited. It is better to place the fire bowl on a tiled terrace than on a meadow.
If you can’t find a rocky surface, cut out the bottom of the fireplace ten to 20 centimeters. This way you won’t have flammable grass anymore, but soil.
If you don’t want to have a permanent fire pit in your yard, store the soil or sod in a shady spot and replace it after the bonfire.
Additionally, remove dry grass or leaves as well as other flammable materials from the area around your campfire to minimize the fire hazard. In Bavaria, for example, a distance of at least five meters is mandatory.
It is best to use dry, seasoned wood for your campfire. Charcoal can also be used, but be sure to use sustainable charcoal.
Make sure that the wood is also untreated. This means, for example, not painted or no chipboard.
A warehouse is not always the right solution to quickly and easily dispose of wood. What there is to consider, you will learn in the following article: Disposing of wood: these options are available.
Also, do not burn garden waste, which is only allowed in very few communities.
Do not use flammable liquids for lighting, unless they are expressly approved for this purpose by the manufacturer. As an alternative, you can buy solid firelighters for campfires, or check them out here: Make your own barbecue and fireplace lighter – With leftover candles and egg carton.
Next to your campfire, there should always be a bucket of water or similar available for extinguishing in case of emergency.
Never leave the fire unattended. Small children or pets should stay away from the campfire in the garden.
On the website of the Bavarian State Chancellery you will also find a list of fire-hazardous substances that should not be near your campfire.
If there is a strong wind, it is best to extinguish the fire. This will prevent sparks from accidentally setting something on fire.
After the campfire evening, make sure that the fire and embers are completely extinguished.
You can find more information about fire prevention and which number to call in case of an emergency on the website of your state’s fire association.
- Check with your municipality to see if a campfire permit is required. A campfire is an open fire that is not enclosed in a bowl or basket. If you build a campfire without the necessary permit, you may be subject to heavy fines.
- The permit requirement does not apply to fire bowls or fire baskets, at least as long as the diameter of them is less than one meter. In this case, it is considered a warming or cozy fire that does not require a permit.
- Additionally, check with your landlord or landlady to see if a campfire or fire bowl is allowed.
- Check with your local environmental or public order office to find out if you are allowed to have a campfire at all. This is often forbidden in particularly warm and dry summer months.
- Be considerate of your neighbors. A minimum distance of ten meters to the adjacent property is recommended, so as not to disturb them too much with smoke. You can find out when your neighbors are allowed to complain about smoke and stench in the immission control laws of your federal state.
How to protect animals from your campfire in the garden
Even if the first danger that comes to mind when thinking of a campfire is always flying sparks or uncontrolled fire, there is one thing that must not be forgotten: the animals in your own backyard, especially if you have a fire pit directly on the ground or a campfire. Fire bowls or baskets don’t pose as much of a danger here.
With fireplaces, however, you must make sure that you do not pile up the wood or branches beforehand, then leave them lying around and only light them after a certain time. During this time, hedgehogs or bird species such as robins and wrens may have made themselves comfortable in the wood. Birds, for example, like to use the wood as a nesting place and hedgehogs to hide in it during the day. If there is noise during lighting, for example, hedgehogs first hide and wait to see if the danger passes. Once the fire is lit, it is usually too late.
To save the animals from an agonizing death, piling up is very important, especially in the case of bonfires directly in the ground. So always check thoroughly to make sure that no one is hiding between the wood and the branches