How to Build Your Own Fire Pit – Part 2
When deciding how to make our backyard fire pit, we knew that we wanted it be sturdy, inexpensive, and to look nice. After some research, we decided to make a stone fire pit. A week or so in advance be sure to call the Diggers Hotline to make sure you aren’t building your fire pit on top of important cables. After we decided what style of fire pit we wanted to make and the backyard had been marked by the utility companies, we budgeted $100, marked a couple spots in the backyard where we would consider building it and then headed to the store to pick up supplies.
We searched a couple of local stores and a landscaping company, but ended up finding everything we needed at Menards. For those of you who don’t have this chain in your state, it is very comparable to Lowe’s. Essentially, it is a super hardware store. They had a good variety of landscaping stones and it did not take long to find the style we were looking for. We eneded up going with a small Catalina retaining wall stone and the color was called Sienna. We purchased a total of 42 stones and the cost came to about $70 – $80. Make sure you have a reliable way to transport all the stones. Our small SUV seemed really weighed down taking all the stones at once. We didn’t do any damage to the vehicle, but I would probably look for an alternative means if we had to do it again.
Here is a list of the supplies we used to put this together:
- spade shovel
- square point shovel
- tape measure
- spray paint
- a couple of boards
- 42 landscaping stones
- 1 bag of multi-purpose gravel
- 1 bag of lava rock
Place the pole in the middle of where you want your fire pit to be. Tie one end of the rope to the pole and then measure how wide you would like the radius to be (this measurement should go to the outside of the firepit and include an extra inch or two for good measure). We determined that most of the state park fire pits have about a 30 inch diameter. Given how many stones we had we determined our fire pit was going to have an outer diameter of 44 in. and an inner diameter of 26 in. I held the rope out 46 inches and then sprayed the spray paint as I walked in a circle around the pole.
Now that you have your circle, use the shovels to dig it out. Starting with the edges first and then work your way to the middle. Use your best guess for depth. We only wanted to go down about 4 inches or so. We tried to keep the extra sod as in tact as we could so we could use it to patch other holes in our lawn.
Once the sod has been taken out, remove the remaining soil and flatten the base. There are some special tools that can be used to flatten the ground, but we just used small cuts from a 2×4 to smooth and flatten the bottom. Once you think it looks good, place two stones, one on each side, and see how level they are. Try moving them in a couple of different positions to make sure the bottom is level throughout.
Finish placing the rest of the first layer of stones and run the level around again for good measure. Add or take away dirt from any stones that look like they need it.
Once you are satisfied with the bottom layer, dig a hole in the middle of the pit. A post hole digger would be ideal for this, but we didn’t have one, so we just used the spade. Dig down about a foot or two and then add the multi-purpose gravel. This will serve as your drain when it rains.
Now add the second layer, alternating the stone placement. And finally the third layer. The stones we bought were pretty hefty duty so we didn’t see the need of cementing them in place. So far that hasn’t caused any problems.
Now add the lava rock to the desired depth that you want your fire pit. Lava rock is larger and much better looking than multi-purpose gravel so it works well to top off the inside of the pit. Then add some of the sod you removed to the edges around the pit and water it well.
This is the finished project. We are very happy with how it turned out. It is sturdy, it looks nice, it was inexpensive and it didn’t take long to put together. It is a good size for the type of fires we plan to make, however, if I did it again I probably make it just a few inches wider. If you live in a city, remember to check with your local fire department to see if you need to get a burning permit (we had to get one). They also may have regulations as to how close it can be to your neighbors yard or buildings. I hope you have enjoyed this do-it-yourself entry and good luck to anyone else that may be setting up their own backyard fire pit.