How Can I Build A DIY Fire Pit For My Backyard?

Fire pits nowadays are all the rage when it comes to backyard additions. From afternoon barbeques to after dusk evening s’mores surrounded by the warm fire.  Fire pits can provide good functionality and a pleasant gathering space for your backyard that will endure all year round. Also, many realtors suggest that adding a backyard fit pit can increase the value of your home. Your friends at Spring-Green wanted to put together this how-to, do it yourself guide so you can build and enjoy your backyard fire pit for years to come without the potential burn! 

What materials and tools do I need?

To build a fire pit that will last for many years to come, it all starts with the right tools and quality materials. Fire pits for your backyard can range from the most expensive to the most budget-friendly options, but these will be the basic tools and materials you will need to get started.  

Tools Needed:                                                                   

  • tape measure  
  • stake  
  • trowel  
  • hand tamper  
  • shovel   
  • level  

Materials Needed:   

  • twine or string  
  • ready-mix concrete  
  • stone pavers  
  • gravel  
  • spray paint (optional)  

When purchasing the pavers for the wall of your fire pit, aim for pavers that are sturdy like retaining wall bricks, natural stone, or concrete pavers. Many home improvement stores often carry bricks specifically designed for fire pits. Keep in mind also that price points for materials will differ depending on your budget for your fire pit project.   

How do I plan out my Fire Pit for structure and safety?

Once you have all your materials and tools gathered, it is time to begin building your backyard fire pit. But first, you need to do a little planning and safety preparation.  

  • Consider in planning your fire pit location that you have the proper space for it in your back yard and that it is accessible. Ideally, your fire pit should be built and sit on a patch of level ground in an open area of the yard that’s at least 15 feet from other residences and at least 10 feet from property lines avoiding flammable structures such as wooden sheds, bushes, and trees. Also, make sure your fire pit location is not close to any gas lines.  
  • Check with your local fire codes and HOA to ensure you able to have a fire pit on your property and be able to burn. Some city codes and HOA’s restrict the use of fire pits whether it be gas or wood-burning so check with your local office to make sure you can build safely and efficiently.  
  • Research quality and efficient fuel supply equipment and emissions for your fire pit. Gas options may take longer to install but are fuel options to consider given they emit no smoke, sparks, or embers, and leave no ashes to clean up. Wood-burning fire pits do not require any gas lines but can emit a decent amount of smoke, sparks, and embers, require ash removal and make larger flames fires more difficult to extinguish.   
  • Invest in fire safety gear for your fire pit such as a fire blanket or fire extinguisher.  

Where do I start?

Now that you have your plans, best practices, tools, and materials together. Here is a step by step guide on how to safely and efficiently build your backyard fire pit to enjoy for years to come.  

Step 1 – Build the foundation of the fire pit.  

  • To begin your foundation, locate the middle spot for your fire pit and insert a stake in the ground where the center of the pit will be placed. Mark the circumference of the circle by attaching a string to the stake, measuring out half the length of your circumference, and tie the end of your string to a can of spray paint. Walk around the stake, using the string, and spray paint the circle which will be the circumference of your fire pit.   
  • Dig the space out to a depth of approximately 6″. Repeat the same method as above to mark an inner circle of approximately 12″ in from the outside circle. This inner circle will be the edge of the fire pit wall.   
  • Once you do this, use a large shovel to dig out the grass inside the circle.  Then amp down the dirt with a hand tamper and use a level to ensure that your foundation will be level to begin building the foundation the stones will sit upon.  
  • Mix concrete with water until it reaches the consistency of peanut butter. Lay the wet concrete in between the two circles so it is level with the ground. Ensure that you leave the center area free of concrete to allow for proper drainage and build up the concrete until it is about 1-1/2″ below ground level. Smooth the surface with a trowel then let dry for 24 hours.  

Step 2 – Build the outer walls of your fire pit.  

  • Once your foundation is set, it’s time to lay the stones or pavers for your fire pit. Mix mortar and then shovel about 2″ of it on top of the concrete base. Work in small sections which lay the stones on the mortar. Once your first few levels of stones are laid on the outer edge of your fire pit, lay your fire bricks to form the inner wall of your fire pit.  

Step 3 – Build the inner fire brick wall of your fire pit.  

  • To build the inner fire brick wall for your fire pit start with making sure to level each brick, fill the gaps in between with wet mortar, and scrape away any excess. Also, be sure to measure the inside and outside edges of the inner wall periodically to maintain proper wall thickness and circular shape.  
  •  Raise the bricks (against the inside circle) and the pavers (against the outside circle) while also filling in gaps between with stones and mortar as the wall grows taller. Also, if you stagger the seams of the pavers and inner bricks this will make the fire pit more stable, safe, and secure.  

Step 4 – Finishing touches to your fire pit.  

  • To finish off your fire pit after the outer and inner walls have been constructed you can leave open for an interior pit to hold your fire, or you can fill it with gravel or pebble stones and an inner steel ring. Utilizing a steel ring as the inner part of your fire pit will not only preserve the looks but also the structural integrity of your fire pit that will last for years to come.  

A fire pit is a great addition to any backyard. Fire pits can not only provide added value to your home but can also provide a comforting ambiance and a great gathering area to your backyard. As a homeowner, building a DIY fire pit can be budget-friendly with safety in mind. Since 1977, Spring-Green is the dedicated professionals to help you with all your lawn and landscaping needs.   

Contact a Spring-Green Pro today to get started.