How To Build An Outdoor Fire Pit
Paradise In Your Backyard
The yellow and orange flames lick upward into the night sky as flickers of red and sometimes blue join in. The chill in the fall air is lessened with the comfort of the warm fire. Your little ones toast marshmallows and stuff them between two graham crackers with some chocolate squares to make S'mores. Thoughts of e-mail and cell phones fade into the distance as you gaze into the flickering fire...
Does this sound like your last camping trip two years ago with the family? Can't seem to find time to break away for another vacation like that one? Bring the camping feeling to your own backyard to enjoy every day by building your own outdoor fire pit.
An Easy Do It Yourself Project
If you think you could never build a fire pit of your own, because you're just not handy, think again. My son and I built our fire pit in a single afternoon and that was with two trips to Lowe's to get more materials included! We didn't even start out thinking about building a fire pit, although I had been lusting after one for awhile. It's just all the instructions I had seen before made it sound so difficult, plus the cost of one I saw I liked on the Internet was $715 to build. Ouch! I was intimidated! But we had to have something we could use to burn all the tree limbs we had cut down when we went through our last drastic whacking of all the out of control vegetation in the backyard. Now we had piles and piles of brush that would take weeks to haul away or put out by the curb a little at a time for the garbage men to pick up.
Fire Pits vs. Chimineas
Our first thought was that we were going to buy a chiminea. That way we could even put it on our deck if we wanted..and besides, they're so pretty! However, I went online and read several product reviews of chimineas and almost all said something about them cracking over time and one said hers cracked the first time she had used it. This was not good news for our pretty chiminea idea! I looked next at portable metal fire pits. None of them looked like they would make it past one season. I wanted something that would last awhile and maybe even get better over time. The majority of them didn't look very stable and the cheapest I could find was for a very tiny one, about $80.
Enter The Fire Pit!
That fire pit idea was still lingering in the back of my mind. I kept thinking, "How hard could it be? Would it cost me more than $80 which is what a low end chiminea or metal fire pit would cost? A real in ground fire pit would last longer." So, with our courage in hand, my son and I went to Wal-mart first to look at stacking stones. The stones we found there, although the right shape were really small and would've taken us way too many to get the job done, even though they were only .99 each which was tempting. We headed over to Lowe's and found the exact size we were looking for in three different colors. The color we chose was Autumn Blend Countryside. We paid $1.79 per block for them, which was more than I wanted to pay, but for a small fire pit, it really doesn't take that many. We bought 17 to start with just to see how they would look and headed back home to play.
Digging The Hole For the Fire Pit
Hauling the stacking stones into our backyard was no mean feat! We had no wheelbarrow and had to carry them all by hand...let me tell you, those things are heavy! Next time we do anything with stone, we'll borrow a wheelbarrow! My son and I placed the stones in a circle on the ground and he marked the area inside the stones where he would need to dig with a shovel. We then moved the stones back and dug a circular hole 12 inches deep. It was tough going because of the red clay in our backyard and tree roots, but my son applied a little elbow grease and got it done. We put the stones back around the hole, admiring his handiwork and decided we would stack the stones three high to make the wall around the fire pit high enough. We realized looking at we had done so far that this was definitely do-able. So it was kind of like childbirth where you forget how bad it is...we forgot how heavy those stones were and so back to Lowe's we went to buy 34 more!
Firepit Made From Flagstones
The Fire Pit Construction
While at Lowe's, we bought three bags of pebbles, (we ended up only using two) and a bag of sand, and the remaining stacking stones. We once again moved the first row of stones away from the perimeter of the hole and poured sand around the edge, then leveled it out with the back of the rake, so I stones would lay nice and straight. We put the first row back and starting stacking the second row, staggering the stones on the second row, then stacked the third row on top of those, again staggering the stones. It already looked amazing! The stacking stones are cut to make a circle and the sides are angled to really fit together nicely. I used the remaining sand to pour down into the small cracks between each stone and used an old broom to sweep the sand off the surface of the stones and smooth it into the cracks.
The Finished Product!
We put about four inches of pea gravel in the bottom of the pit and because we were concerned about the fire safety of the stacking stones, we put some some fire-safe bricks around the inside. (We removed these later, but we were chicken the first time we built a fire, so decided to err on the side of caution!) And ta da! We were finished! All told, it probably took about three and a half hours, some heavy lifting, and a little digging. The pit ended up costing us a little over $100 all told, way less than the $715 for supplies and materials that we saw on the Internet and it helped us feel really capable and awesomely proud of ourselves! My sons built a fire in our new fire pit that night and it looked and worked great! Now my son says he wants to build a patio around it with pavers, but I told him I wanted to wait till my ibuprophen kicks in before I lifted any more heavy objects!