Building A Backyard Fire Pit: Quick & Easy

Walter Green - General Manager
September 8, 2015

Building A Backyard Fire Pit: Quick & Easy

There’s nothing quite like enjoying a fire pit under the stars in your own backyard. On a cool summer's night you can cook up a feast of hot dogs and s'mores, and nothing beats a fireside snuggle with your loved ones as you enjoy watching a beautiful and chilly fall evening slip by.

Now while a fire pit can be as crude as nothing more than a hole in the ground with a few stones haphazardly piled around it. But believe it or not, in just a few hours using tools as simple as a shovel and a rubber mallet, you can build a fire pit that is considerably more attractive, safer, and one that is sure to be enjoyed by your whole family year-round.

Before you get started, here's a list of the tools and materials that you'll need to build your new fire pit: A spade shovel, tape measure, marking paint, wooden stake, concrete retaining wall, blocks, sand, level, rubber mallet, masonry adhesive, and crushed stone

In an effort to avoid any headaches, satisfy yourself that building a fire pit wouldn’t result in your getting burned with a fine from the local government. You may need to contact the planning offices in your area to see if any legal restrictions apply to you. Only continue once you’ve gotten the necessary approvals or you know for certain that none are required.

The next step is to choose a location, be sure that it's a safe distance away from any flammable structures or materials, preferably on relatively flat ground. It's worth taking the time to clear any tree branches that are hanging low as it may save you some trouble down the road. One final consideration to take into account is the dominant direction of the wind, the goal of course is to avoid is smoke billowing into your home’s interior either through windows or doors.

Once you've nailed down the final location, you need to decide how wide you want your fire pit—the recommended size is between 36 and 44 inches—and I recommend using marking paint to outline the dimensions. You can easily accomplish this by driving a stake into the middle of the area where you want the fire pit to go. Then just tie a length of twine to the stake that is equal to half the planned diameter. Then walk around the stake in a circle, with the twine extended, painting the perimeter.

With the circle clearly marked out, it’s time to excavate the ground. You'll want to dig the circle out until it's about eight inches deep. If the yard is sloped, you may have to dig down deeper on one end to ensure that your installation will be level. Then you'll need to place a two-inch-thick layer of sand into the bottom of the pit. Be sure to tamp down the sand in order to compact and level it.

Now you can lay the first course of concrete retaining wall blocks around the edge of the pit. Be sure to keep the blocks level and even with each other; this is easily done by tapping them with a rubber mallet to establish the correct height.

You're now ready to lay a second and third ring of blocks; be sure to stagger each layer with the one below it, attaching the tiers using masonry adhesive. Leave small gaps between the blocks intermittently in order to promote air circulation around the fire, leave small, intermittently located gaps between the blocks.

Lastly, add about four inches of crushed stone in the bottom of the pit. Depending on the type of masonry you used, you may need to let the adhesive dry for approximately two days before having your inaugural fire. Now the only thing that's left to do is fire it up, and start grilling, chilling, and roasting!