By the staff

Offering campfire appeal within the privacy and convenience of a backyard, the fire pit has become ubiquitous in modern outdoor living spaces.

“Five years ago we were doing two to three fire pits a year, and now we’re doing three to four a month,” said Hugh Pressman, owner of Kaibab Landscaping in Flagstaff.

If you want to relax in the yard, keep your hands warm, your beers and sodas cold, and have it all flowing from beautiful perennial stone, Kaibab has a plan for you.

The local company has become the go-to for containing fire in rock, and now its popular boulder fire pit and seating area has a patio companion—a cooler bore from a singular rock.

“I’m pretty sure we’re the only ones doing that,” said Pressman, who conceived the stone cooler while pitching a design to a local resident.

The cooler is spacious and permanent. On one side, a mounted Yeti bottle opener is at the ready to pop tops of ice-cold beers. On the other side, two “weep holes” let ice water slip out to refresh a plant or young tree.

Pressman and his team focus on hardscaping, manmade features that can include walkways, patios, walls and other masonry structures that surround a home or building. They incorporate moss, various types of grasses—blue fescue and deer—herbs, as well as small trees into their designs. Plants softens the edges of flagstone and rock and bring in bursts of contrasting color and shape.

“I like the contour and feel of grass and the way it moves in the wind,” the landscaper said.

The majority of rock Kaibab uses comes from Ash Fork, known as the flagstone capital of the world for its numerous stone quarries and yards.

Kaibab bores its boulder fire pits and coolers by hand, a process that utilizes diamond-blade saws and hand chiseling. It can take three to four hours to create the hollow in one rock.

Using natural rock means no two fire pits are alike. Coloring, fissures, dried lichen or moss add to the unique beauty of the piece.

Kaibab Landscaping has been building outdoor spaces inspired by the West for 20 years, servicing clients in northern Arizona and Telluride, Colorado. Pressman said his company makes craftsmanship and service equal priorities.

He admits, though, that creating an outdoor living space can be daunting for a home owner.

“There a million ways to do it, and lot of things to consider.”

Shape and size of the space, materials, style and furnishings are just a few considerations. And, of course, there’s the budget.

Hardscape residential projects can start at $15,000 and go up depending on the labor and materials involved.

The Houzz home improvement and design site as a good reference point for concepts and ideas. Users can create idea books for their projects and share them with contractors to help get design concepts flowing.

So what if you’re a do-it-yourselfer?

In that case, Pressman recommends fire pit kits, usually made with cast metal and stone brick with propane or wood burning options. Kits are available through home improvement box stores, online and at some garden and landscaping suppliers.

Credit photos: Joshua F. Johnson

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