How to Build a Backyard Fire Pit
Cool, crisp nights are perfect for gathering around a backyard fire pit with your friends and family. Add in a bag of marshmallows and you have the recipe for a lovely evening. While elaborate fire pits are typically featured in glossy magazines, s’mores and memories can just as easily be made around a simple, but attractive, backyard fire pit. And the good news is that creating one isn’t a difficult DIY project. Here’s a step-by-step guide to building your own backyard fire pit.
What You Need:
- Fireproof stone, such as retaining wall bricks or concrete pavers
- Gravel or sand
- Fire-resistant mortar or adhesive
- String or twine
- Tape measure
- Spray paint or garden trowel
- Rubber mallet
What to Do:
1. Prepare for the Project
The first, and perhaps most important, step of all is the one to take before you get started: Check your local building code. It will detail regulations, including the size and location of the pit relative to other structures, and whether you’re allowed an open-fire pit at all, HGTV says. If you’re good to go, scout the perfect spot in your yard. Select a place that’s away from trees, structures and anything flammable, HGTV adds. Then call 811 a few days before you dig, says Zillow. The 811 call center will help you determine if there are any power lines or anything else buried at your chosen spot.
2. Design and Measure
The style, shape and size of a custom fire pit can vary, DIY Network says. You may want to plot out the design first by placing your bricks in a circle, HGTV says. HGTV recommends fire pits measure about 36 inches to 44 inches in diameter, but verify with your city code.
Once you’re happy with the size, draw a circle on the ground, Zillow says. You can do so by sticking a stake in the center of your pit location. Cut a length of twine that measures the radius of your fire pit. Tie one end of the twine to the stake and the other to a spray paint can or a garden trowel. Then walk around the stake, either spraying as you go, or dragging the edge of the trowel through the grass.
3. Dig, Dig, Dig
Now it’s time for some sweat equity. Shovel out the ground within your circle until the hole is about one foot deep, HGTV says.
4. Fill the Hole
Pour a few inches of gravel into the bottom of the hole, says Zillow. Spread the gravel around evenly. Sand is another option to fill the hole, according to HGTV. If you choose sand, use a tamper to press it down and make a flat surface.
5. Arrange the Bricks
Place the first level of bricks along the inside edge of the hole. Use your level to check for evenness on the layer, according to This Old House. If a brick sits too high, use a rubber mallet to tamp it down. Ensure the bricks fit together tightly.
6. Build Up the Fire Pit Wall
According to Zillow, continue stacking bricks until the wall of your fire pit is about one foot taller than ground level. For extra stability, you can use fire-resistant mortar between the bricks. Although, if the bricks are heavy enough, you may not need it, Zillow says.
7. Fill Again if Needed
If you elected to use sand to fill the fire pit, HGTV recommends adding one more layer of sand about 4 inches deep.
All that’s left to do is gather some firewood and comfortable chairs for a relaxing evening around your new fire pit.
How to Build a Backyard Fire Pit
What’s the secret to a cozier backyard? A fire pit! And bonus: You can build it yourself.
Before you start, do some recon. Check your city’s building codes for any regulations.
Scout out a spot away from anything flammable, such as trees.
And call 811 to ensure nothing — such as utility lines — is buried underneath your chosen spot.
Next, choose a size for your fire pit. Experts recommend about 36 inches to 44 inches in diameter, but check your city’s code. Draw a circle of your chosen size in the ground, using twine or string, and spray paint.
Here are the tools and supplies you’ll need.
Now it’s time to dig! Shovel out the ground within your circle until the hole is about one foot deep. You want it below ground level for safety and stability.
Pour about six inches of gravel into the bottom of the hole. Flatten it out using your tamper.
Place the first layer of bricks along the inside edge of the hole, checking for evenness using your level. Use your rubber mallet to press down any bricks, if needed.
Continue stacking bricks until the wall of your fire pit is about one foot taller than ground level. For extra stability, you can use fire-resistant mortar between the bricks. Wait two days for the mortar to dry before lighting your first fire.
All that’s left is to gather some firewood and comfortable chairs for a relaxing evening around your new fire pit.
Remember, always have a douser, such as a fire extinguisher, nearby for safety.