Sitting around the fire. It’s a tradition that goes back further than recorded history and is one that has endured for many reasons. The simplest of which is that it’s just plain relaxing. What better way to spend a summer evening than being gathered around a fire with family and friends? More and more, people aren’t waiting to go camping to enjoy an evening fire. Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are gaining in popularity.
Building your own backyard fire pit is a relatively simple and inexpensive project that you’ll enjoy all season long -- perhaps well into autumn. Like most projects, it can be as extravagant as your skill level and wallet can allow, but a basic fire pit may be all you need to make your summer nights memorable. Below we’ll discuss some things to consider when deciding on your fire pit project.
- First and foremost, check for any local ordinances or building codes in relation to fire pits or open flames where you live. Make sure you are aware of such limitations before purchasing supplies.
- When deciding on a location for your fire pit, consider its proximity to neighbors, overhanging trees and outdoor structures. Some regulations may specify a distance from property lines or structures for outdoor fire pits and barbecues.
- Make sure the stone you use for your fire pit is suitable. Concrete pavers are ideal because of their uniform size and shape. If you choose not to use a steel bowl in your pit, make sure you use either a still fire ring or line the inside of the pit with fire proof blocks.
- For best results, choose bricks that have angled sides, to better form into a circle.
- The optimal size for a fire pit is between three and four feet across. This size will allow for a large enough fire and is still small enough to allow people to talk with one another from across the flames. Additionally, the recommended height should be about twelve inches from the ground. To achieve this, the first one or two layers of brick should be below ground level.
- Before breaking ground, lay a ring of blocks on the grass to form your ring. Make sure you count the number of bricks used. Next, mark the outside of the ring using a shovel, about an inch around on the outside of the blocks.
- When digging out your pit, keep the sides of the hole perpendicular to the ground. About a foot deep should be adequate. To ensure proper drainage and to provide a good base for leveling, fill the first 6 inches of the pit with gravel.
- When building the walls of your pit make sure to keep the wall plum and level.
- For the bricks above ground, it is a good idea to leave three or four narrow air gaps between the stones for each layer. This will provide spaces for the fire to draw air.
- Dry laying your brick (not using mortar or adhesives) makes it easier when the time comes to repair or replace broken bricks.
Once you have your fire pit in place, remember that there’s more you can do to set the right ambience. Installing subtle lighting (solar lights are a good choice, as most fire pits are a substantial distance from the house), comfortable outdoor seating, weatherproof speakers and more can make this the place to spend your evenings all summer long.
*Remember to always check your local fire departments website for fire safety tips!