A flame in the back yard
One of the most common types of outdoor fireplace is the chiminea, which features a bowl-shaped base with a single opening which connects to a short chimney or stack. In some cases, chimineas are described as patio heaters, but the two do have some significant differences. A chiminea can be made of a variety of materials – most commonly cast-iron, aluminum, ceramic, clay or terra cotta. Chimineas are generally meant to contain smaller fires, but the heavy duty cast-iron models are more durable and can be used for relatively large fires. It's very important to consider the fireplace installation requirements for an outdoor fireplace.
Chimineas are best used during the summer and stored during the winter, as some of the materials (most notably terra cotta or clay) can crack when heated in cold temperatures. Chimineas range in price from $150 to $250 for a very basic, low-end model. High-end models with features such as safety grills and pitched chimney stacks to contain ash and embers start at around $500. Only firewood should be used in a chiminea unless the manufacturer specifies that other fuels can be burned.
If you're looking for a larger fire, a grated cylinder style outdoor fireplace may be a better choice. Grated cylinder style units have a simple, open design: a bottom basin for the fire, a grate for cooking food, open grating surrounding the basin and a lid. Many models have wheels, allowing the fireplace to be easily moved. And unlike a chiminea, which only has one opening, the grated cylinder style allows the fire to be viewed by everyone. A grated cylinder style outdoor fireplace starts at $100 and uses wood, or sometimes either natural gas or propane for its fuel.
On a larger scale, there is a permanent outdoor fireplace. Similar to a traditional indoor fireplace, the outdoor fireplace can be an extension of the house or patio, or it can be completely free-standing. Some outdoor fireplace models include a drainage system to divert rainwater away from the fire. The available styles are simply firepits within stone wall enclosures, while others are more elaborate and include a mantel and hearth. There are nearly limitless options available. You are limited only by your imagination… and your budget, of course.