Having a fire pit in your backyard is an awesome way to have a backup for cooking when the power goes out, and it creates a great space to gather round and spend time with your family away from technology and just talk. How about that?
NOTE: This post was written as we went – and is now fully updated with all the steps we took and photos.
I’ve been hinting about it for awhile to my husband, and started showing him different options online. At first, he didn’t get why I’d want it. We have a grill. But as he began thinking about it, seeing what I’d envisioned, he began to get it. It was something for us to hang out around on cool evenings and talk. It was something we could practice fire skills with. It was something that we could practice alternative cooking skills with. It added another layer of being able to cook if need be.
Most of all, it was kind of cool. I think that was what clinched it!
Our plan to build a fire pit
We spent a lot of time at the DIY store trying to figure out what material we were going to use, how much we’d need for the size we were envisioning, plus the cost analysis of each. We toyed with a simple square cinder block design with a grate over one end, but he really didn’t want it, especially after looking at how cinder block holds up over time. This was going to be the featured thing in our backyard, and he did want to make sure it looked nice as well as being functional.
So we decided on a hollow concrete landscaping brick. We chose it because it looks nice, it was priced reasonably right at $1.87 per brick (only about .50 more than a cinder block even though we’ll have to use a few more of them), and it had areas for rebar built in so that we can reinforce the structure without having to use cement.
We are doing this in stages as we save money for it since it was not in our budget. Each row costs around $25 and we’ll eventually have 4 rows (with 12 bricks per row) plus a capping row of a matching brick. Because of the way our yard is built, the first row is actually almost completely cut into the yard, so we opted for 4 rows for the height we eventually wanted. We also purchased 2 bags of lava sand for a base ($8 each), plus 2 bags of lava rock for the fire base ($3 each). In total, this will be approximately $140 by the time we are finished. It could have been less if we’d used plain cinder blocks or if we’d just have purchased a premade $65 metal pit from the DIY store, or used more found objects. But this made the man happy, so I was okay with it. We’re budgeting out of found money that is not in the budget, and our own spending money, and doing it in stages so it’s not a hit to the pocketbook all at once. We’ve been buying supplies here and there for a bit.
DIY Backyard Fire Pit
1. Research and gather materials
2. Place materials in the area you want to make your fire pit to be sure that it won’t impede flow of movement, that it is far enough away from structures, and that it is in an area that will be safe to be around in the dark.
3. Dig out your sod down to the level you want the bricks to sit.
4. Place bricks and level them in each direction so that your structure will be sound. We found that it was really important that the sides of your hole are straight (and we used an edging tool instead of the shovel to do it once we’d dig the main hole.
5. Line your pit with a base material. We chose lava sand as it is a material my husband likes.
6. Set in your bricks. Make sure each brick is sound in placement (doesn’t rock and has a firm base that it sits on, and is level not only with the bricks next to it, but the bricks across from it as well.
7. Place your next layer. We also filled the middle of the pit with a layer of lava sand as the base.
8. Fill the pit with lava rocks. My husband chose this as a base for placing a fire, so that it had draw from underneath as well as helped distribute heat more evenly within the pit. Like the lava sand, this is not a step you must have for your pit, but it’s one we chose.
Not long after we finished, it began to rain, so our plans for a small fire for an inaugural marshmallow roast were dashed. It will be complete in about 2 months, but useable before then as we add the next layers. I can’t wait to get my cast iron bubbling away and learn to cook by campfire. I envision a cast iron tripod plus lovely chairs around the ring at some point, but for now, our old plastic yard chairs will have to do.
Eventually, we plan on having a grate that will cover at least half of the 4′ diameter from 2 grill grates and an iron bar. This will give us a grilling capacity if we need it, plus a place to set pots on if we don’t want them directly in the fire. But that will be down the road. Until then, we’ll settle for a smaller grill to put over the coals.
UPDATE: We build our fire pit up to the height we had planned, but didn’t cap it off with the cap stones because we felt it really wasn’t necessary and was an unneeded expense at the time. However, after using it for awhile, we realized that making it too high create an issue with smoke, so we dropped it back down and will use those bricks in another project.
Here are the accessories for our pit that are on my wishlist to make it complete that might work for your backyard pit, too! (you can click on any of the images to get more info)
OUR COMPLETED BACKYARD FIRE PIT
And here’s our completed fire pit – two years in use. This is after a few weeks of cleaning up the yard for spring, we toss in twigs and small branches to use for kindling and fire starting! Win-win!
Hope this gives you some inspiration!
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