How To Build a Backyard Fire Pit

by Rachel Laurendeau on June 11, 2012

If you’re looking for a rustic way to stay warm in your backyard or at the cottage on cool summer nights, why not build an outdoor fire pit? This is also a great way to extend the season to be able to enjoy your backyard earlier in the spring and later into the fall. This DIY home improvement project can easily be completed over a day or two with some basic tools and a little attention to detail.

• Safety should be your first concern when building a fire pit. Check with your local fire department or city official to find out what the local fire regulations are for backyard fire pits.

• Choose your location in a level spot a safe distance from the house and its overhangs, trees, shrubs and other flammable objects.

• Once you’ve chosen your location, dig a circular hole 2 feet wider than your actual fire pit will be and dig out about 12 inches of soil. Shovel in 4 inches of gravel and 4 inches of sand and tamp each layer flat and level.

• According to the experts at Garrity Stone, you will want to use paving stones or landscaping blocks that are angled on the sides. Arrange the stones in a circle to make the fire ring on top of your gravel and sand base, making sure that your first layer of blocks is secure and level. Fifteen to seventeen stones typically make a medium to large sized fire ring.

• Fill the space outside and inside the blocks with gravel all the way around to stabilize your stones. This will come most of the way up the first course. If you prefer the look of pea gravel this is a nice, safe option as well. Never use river rock as it can explode from the heat.

• You will want to build up the ring of stones about three to five courses high; no more than 20 inches high to keep a good fire burning. Overlap the courses so they are offset and leave a few small random gaps between stones in each course so the fire can breathe. If you are unclear on how to stack your stones, this video gives clear, step by step instructions for this project.

• Your best bet is to dry-stack the stones rather than cement them together or use adhesives as these may melt or give off harmful fumes.

• If you choose to, you can put in a metal ring and a grate in the center of the stones for grilling.

Now, all you need are comfy lawn chairs and some marshmallows and you have the perfect cottage or backyard fire pit to enjoy with family and friends on those long summer nights.

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