Year-round warmth and ambience could be yours with this DIY fire pit tutorial.
Whether it's for roasting marshmallows on a fall or winter night or hosting a backyard shindig on a long spring or summer evening, a backyard fire pit can set just the right mood at any time of the year. And while you could buy a fire pit -- maybe your city only allows propane ones -- you could also save some cash by building one with cheap or discarded materials.
There are probably as many do-it-yourself designs for fire pits as there are people thinking about them. So, this isn't an exhaustive list of possible designs, but a place to get started. If you're looking for other ways to liven up your backyard space, check out plants that won't die over the winter, the right way to plant a tree and how to plant a vegetable garden. Just dreaming of the backyard you don't yet have? We have advice on growing houseplants and container vegetables, too.
When it comes down to it, a fire pit is a really simple structure: It's a ring of some material that acts as a shelter and barrier for the fire. Whether that material is stone or metal, it's there to keep the fire from spreading and to provide it a bit of shelter when you start it. That means your fire pit can take on a lot of different shapes and sizes, but a few basics stay consistent.
Your fire pit should rest on level ground. This might require a bit of digging on your part, but setting a solid foundation will help stabilize your fire pit's walls. It's a good idea to remove any grass -- which tends to be at least a little lumpy -- in the footprint of your fire pit. To determine how big a space you need to clear, drive a stake into the ground at the center of the future pit. Tie a string that will reach to the edge of your fire pit and use it to trace a circle. That circle will be your fire pit's footprint.
Once you've leveled out the ground, you could add a layer of sand, which will cover up some of the ground's remaining lumpiness and give you a good foundation to start building the fire pit's structure.
To complete your fire pit, simply build using your chosen material to your desired height. There are no hard and fast rules here either. A fire pit could be just a ring of river stones directly on the ground, or it could be made of bricks stacked a foot and a half high. Once you've reached your desired height, you're ready to start lighting fires.
You can build a fire pit out of a range of materials, most of them cheap. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Wood-burning fire pits aren't allowed in all places. Make sure you're legally allowed to use the fire pit before you build it. Even if you're allowed, you might consider a propane-burning fire pit if you're living in close quarters. Just because you love the campfire smell, doesn't mean your neighbors do.
Also, be aware of seasonal restrictions on burning. You don't want to start a fire that spreads to your lawn, your house or someone else's property.
But, if you're allowed and it's safe to use one, a backyard fire pit can be an easy project you can use all year long. For more fire pit tips, explore how to save money shopping for a fire pit, the best uses for a fire pit and how to use a fire pit as a grill.