DIY Backyard Fire Pit
Cool summer nights call for your own awesome DIY fire pit. They are versatile additions to any backyard space, as you can use them as place to gather and keep warm or as a place to barbeque for your next party. They can also serve as a statement piece that adds a bit of flair to your backyard.
Follow these simple steps to make your own. And of course, keep in mind that you can easily substitute the items used here for a more unique and personalized look.
In-ground vs. Built-up
There are a lot of design options for backyard fire pits. This DIY fire pit is a combination of in-ground and built-up.
If your yard is difficult to dig up or you have no desire to dig, you can elect to build up and skip the hole. However, the hole does add stability and acts as an extra preventative measure to keep your fire from getting out of control (some height around the pit will also help with this).
If you choose not to build your fire pit in-ground, you want to make sure you strike the right height balance—too high and the warmth from the fire will not reach those who are sitting around it. The same goes for in-ground building; if you dig too deep, the flames won’t warm the people gathered around the pit.
Step 1 – Gather Your Materials
Your materials can vary if you want to achieve a different look than this specific version or build a larger fire pit. You can use this as a template and adjust accordingly.
No matter how you choose to design your fire pit, it is advisable to get more material than you think you’ll need just in case you make a mistake. You should be able to return unused material as long as it is not opened or damaged.
Step 2 – Determine the Size
Because the Tennessee soil where this was built is made up mostly of hard clay and large rocks, less digging was ideal. So, a combination of an in-ground and a built-up pit was used.
The depth was determined by the size of the brick, and the brick size was chosen based on price. As it turns out, the cheapest brick was 8 inches long by 4 inches wide. Therefore, the hole was dug just a little more than half the length of the brick: 5 inches deep.
You can choose your brick to coincide with the look and size you are going for, just make sure to recalculate your measurements of your DIY fire pit. For example, you may want a longer brick for a deeper hole, or to have them sit against the rocks around the rim.
A 4-foot-wide diameter was the perfect size to accommodate about five to six people. The goal is to have something big enough for a nice-sized fire and to have enough room for your guests to sit comfortably around your DIY fire pit on a crisp summer night. At the same time, you also do not want it to overpower the rest of your yard or be so big that you cannot control the fire.
Step 3 – Plan Where You’ll Dig
The best way to make a circle is to put a stake or stick in the center of where you will be digging and attach a 2-foot (half of the diameter) piece of string. You can tie it to a spade to mark where you will be digging, or you can use spray paint. Hold the string taught, ensuring you do not move whatever it is tied to.
Step 4 – Dig the Hole
You can probably just skip the gym on this day, as you will be getting quite the workout in.
You will want to go even farther out if you plan on adding more decorative stone or something along those lines around your DIY fire pit.
Step 5 – Lay the Bricks
Make sure the base of your hole is fairly level, especially around the edge where you will be placing your bricks. Instead of having the brick come up and above the rim to meet where the edging will be laid, these bricks were placed at an angle to give it a slope. They do not have to be flush against each other, but you want them to be relatively close. The closer they are, the less pea gravel you will need for filler.
Step 6 – Pour the Pea Gravel
The pea gravel makes for a nice filler to fill in the gaps and keep the bricks from falling over. Pour the gravel in and maneuver it between the bricks. You will have to go around the circumference and lift the bricks, pouring in the gravel (and sand) behind them. You want to press the bricks back in and really pack them in so that they are secure.
Remember to save some of the filler for the rim.
Step 7 –Lay the Edging
The edging stones will sit much better and you will reduce the risk of starting an unwanted fire if you dig up the grass around the hole where they will sit. Go out as far as the edging will, which is 5.5 inches in this case.
Now, when placing the edging stones, you want to get as close to the edge of your hole as possible. When all stones are in place, they should be nearly touching the top tips of the bricks. Place them close together so there are no gaps. The layout will depend on the exact shape of the edging you are using, but the stones should all be as close together as you can get them.
Use any leftover filler to fill in the gaps around the circumference. Fewer gaps mean that the grass will be less likely to grow back and become a fire hazard. Remember, fire pit safety is important to consider when you're building.
Step 8 – Finish it off
Pea gravel isn’t the prettiest. Once you’re done with the basic functional design, consider adding some river pebbles to the center of the pit. The river pebbles are more aesthetically pleasing than functional, but they do help build up the center nicely. If you are using them, just pour in about half a bag in the center and spread them out a little throughout the center. You can also use them around the outside of your DIY fire pit.
Now you are all set to roast some marshmallows and have that camping experience in your own backyard.