Building a state of the art backyard fire pit can involve thousands of dollars and hiring professionals, but you can build a useful and attractive fire pit with a little sweat equity and reasonable outlay of cash at a home improvement center. Fire pits today range from simple, small, freestanding units to large and complex installations using natural gas or propane. That old, darkened pile of rocks placed in a circle in the backyard seems very primitive when compared to today’s fire pit designs.
A small fire burning through the night has accompanied humankind for millennia. Fire provides light, warmth, a source for cooking and sensory relaxation. A campfire evokes memories of summers past, and building your own backyard fire pit will help you savor these while creating new ones for the future. It’s a great way of creating an outdoor mood when entertaining. One of the fastest growing trends in landscaping, the design of fire features offer gardeners a wide array of possibilities.
Any project involving fire must focus on safety. Check with local agencies about permits and regulations. Before you start any work, begin by carefully selecting a location for your fire feature. Among other factors, you must consider the prevailing winds in your area, and keep at least 15 feet away from structures, trees, utility posts and cables. Avoid traffic areas and pathways. Once you have selected a few fire safe locations in your garden, pick the one offering the best views. The combination of a close dancing flame with an expansive view behind it will make your fire area feel both intimate and infinite under a mantle of stars.
You are now ready to place or build your fire pit. A large number of freestanding units in different materials and designs are available for purchase, and their portability makes them an excellent choice. But if you are looking to build yourself an inexpensive, larger and more permanent fire pit, start by digging a round hole about a foot deep and four feet wide. Line the bottom with a layer of sand or silica, and add about three inches of coarse gravel on top.
Obtain 20 to 30 blocks of cast concrete, available at your home improvement superstore. These bricks are molded to resemble real stone and are easily stackable. Most are fire resistant, but make sure to ask. Place enough bricks, lying on their sides, so that the bottom of your pit is lined with them. Begin placing a course of bricks flat around the edges, and using fireproof grout or cement, build up three or four courses, or layers on top. This way, you’ll have a 10-to-12-inch wall above the ground surrounding your fire pit.
Carefully prepare a wooden fire inside your pit, place cushions or chairs around it, invite some friends and you’re ready to enjoy. As an added precaution, keep a small fire extinguisher and a bucket with sand near your fire area. Let the ever-changing flames inspire your conversation or reverie, or get out the marshmallows and let your inner camper enjoy the fire feature experience.