Just because the summer is coming to an end doesn’t mean outdoor gatherings or relaxing outside with friends and family has to! You don’t need to spend a fortune or hire someone to create a professional looking stone fire pit. Our do-it-yourself fire pit can be built for less than $150 and does not require any cutting of stone or even cement. Anyone (with a strong back to lift) can build one. Fire pits add a great focal point to your outdoor landscape and will bring everyone together after the pools and beaches are closed for the season. Here’s our easy do-it-yourself guide that you can have completed in a day!
First, be sure to check with your town and/or home owner’s association to see if fire pits are permitted and check if you need a permit. Second, make sure you have a level area away from trees, structures and utility lines. The easiest fire pit to build is an above ground, circular pit. This can be placed on a patio or dirt. You probably have seen the outdoor metal fire pit kits in the stores. Save yourself $200 and skip the kit – it’s not needed! This project can be completed for about $100 and looks like you spent a lot of money having one built professionally! The price of the block and adhesive will cost you less than if you were to purchase an assembled metal fire pit.
What you’ll need: blocks, tape measure, string or twine, large shovel, level, gravel or sand, tamp, trowel and a stake.
When looking for the right stone we like Lowe’s Ashland retaining wall blocks (4×11 inch) because of its textured antiqued, naturally worn look. It is sold in gray or red. The blocks are tapered in so you can easily create a circle. They’re heavy enough that you don’t need to use cement to hold them together or you can use fireproof landscape block adhesive for extra stability. We used 12 blocks for each layer and a total of four layers. 48 blocks total. Typically fire pits are 36 to 44 inches in diameter but you can create a smaller or larger pit based on the amount of people you’d like to be able to comfortably sit around the fire.
Choose the area you want to built your fire pit. Make sure to calculate the seating space you’ll need around your fire (at least 12 feet in diameter).
Lay the first layer of block down in a circle to mark the area where you’ll need to dig. Alternatively, tie one end of the string to a stake placed in the middle of your circle and measure how wide you want the fire pit to be. Tie the other end of the string to a small trowel and create a circular line in the grass to outline your pit.
Next, use a large shovel to dig up the grass in your circle. Dig down about 6 inches deep. (Be sure you don’t have underground wiring before digging.) Pack down the dirt with a tamp or shovel.
Next, use a level to make sure your base is packed and sturdy. Make adjustments to the dirt until completely level and packed. Lay your blocks around in a circle around the perimeter of the hole. Make sure to stagger each additional layer. These blocks are heavy and sturdy enough to stay in place without adhesive. However, you can use retaining wall adhesive glue for added support.
Fill the hole with sand (or use gravel for drainage) in the middle of the fire pit. You can build your fire directly on the gravel or sand place if you place a few fire resistant bricks in the middle of the fire pit and rest a BBQ grate on top them. You can then build your fire on top of the BBQ grate which will provide adequate air flow. The easiest way to get your fire going without a BBQ grate is to place the logs in a teepee formation above your kindling to allow air flow.
Some accessories you may want to buy are extra long skewers for roasting marshmallows, an extra long poker and a log grabber. High back or Adirondack chairs provide the most comfort and side tables are a must for your drinks and snacks.
If you aren’t building on a patio and want to make your space more defined, pea pebbles are a great option and provide a beautiful backdrop to fire pit. Pea pebbles are sold in bags so you won’t need to get a delivery and can be purchased at the same locations that sell the retaining wall block you’ll be using.
Start planning your fire pit party and enjoy your new backyard space! There is something about an open that warms the heart and brings people together to create memories that will last a lifetime!