By Rachelle Wilber
There’s something magical about a backyard fire pit. As the flames flicker and dance, memories are created, stories are shared, and a simple backyard transforms into a cozy outdoor sanctuary. Whether you’re looking to enjoy cool summer evenings or warming up in the chillier months, a fire pit can turn your backyard into a year-round haven. Plus, it’s a great focal point for those fun social gatherings and family get-togethers. But if you don’t know where to start when it comes to building your own fire pit, don’t worry! With this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of planning, building, and accessorizing your very own fire pit so that you can enjoy all the benefits of an outdoor fire.
Planning Your Fire Pit
When planning your fire pit, the first consideration should be its size. This will be largely dictated by the amount of space you have in your backyard and the number of people you plan to host. Placement is another crucial factor; ensure the fire pit is at a safe distance from any flammable structures and under a clear patch of sky to allow smoke to dissipate. Material choices should focus on durability and heat resistance – a popular option is to build a raised platform using natural rocks. Lastly, consider laying a foundation of sand around your fire pit for the ground; it not only adds a rustic charm but also improves safety by preventing the spread of fire if anything were to ever catch.
Laying the Foundation
Sectioning Off a specific area for your fire pit is an easy way to stay organized and maintain a structured layout in your backyard while you’re in the DIY process. You can do this by using stakes or spray paint to outline the desired size and shape. The ground within this marked space should then be prepared; remove any existing grass or vegetation to expose the bare soil – this is important to avoid any accidental fire spread. Next, the area should be leveled using a rake or a level tool to provide a stable base for your fire pit. Finally, a thick layer of sand should be spread evenly across the surface, offering a heat-resistant platform that will also prevent the spread of fire to the rest of your backyard. If you worry about sand tracking everywhere, consider elevating or lowering that section of the yard and creating a small retaining wall of rocks, this will help to keep your sand where it should be.
Building the Base
To start building the base of your fire pit, first, mark out the desired location and size in your backyard by using a stake and a piece of string. Once you have a defined boundary, dig a hole about one foot deep inside this area, ensuring it’s leveled and can comfortably accommodate the fire. Fill the hole with a six-inch layer of gravel that will serve as drainage and prevent heat from sinking too far into the ground. Around this, start placing your chosen rocks or bricks, creating a sturdy circular or square wall. Remember to leave a couple of small spaces at the bottom for airflow, and inside this structure, fill it up to the top with sand, providing a heat-resistant and safe base for your fire. Between this and the foundation, you’ll need a lot of sand. Ground materials like sand and soil are usually sold by the cubic meter and many places, like Terry Equipment Company, LLC, will deliver it to your home. Be sure you know exactly how much you need by measuring the space you have sectioned out, and work with a company that has the type of sand you’re looking for. Most any kind will do for a fire pit so it’s up to preference.
As you enjoy the warmth and charm of your backyard fire pit, it’s imperative to prioritize safety measures. Always have a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water nearby to douse any fire that gets out of hand immediately. Avoid using lighter fluid or gasoline to start or fuel your fire, as these can cause flare-ups. Be mindful of the wind direction and strength; if it’s too windy, it’s wise to postpone your fire pit gathering to prevent sparks from flying out. Finally, never leave your fire unattended, and ensure it’s completely extinguished before heading in for the night.
This is the fun part. From string lights and comfy chairs to firewood holders and chimneys, there are plenty of accessories you can add to your fire pit area to make it as cozy and stylish as possible. The placement of these items will depend on the size of your fire pit; consider adding a large outdoor rug, bistro tables, or a hammock for extra relaxation. Lights and foliage decoration are a great way to achieve the ultimate aesthetic appeal, keeping the place cozy and comfortable, just be careful not to place anything flammable too close to the fire itself. You can also add a firewood holder to store logs and kindling conveniently next to the fire pit. This way, you won’t have to leave your cozy spot when you need more fuel for the flame!
Building a backyard fire pit can feel like a daunting task, but with these step-by-step guidelines, it’s a project within anyone’s reach. The warmth, charm, and fun that a fire pit brings to your backyard are unmatched and well worth the effort. Whether it’s roasting marshmallows on a cool summer night or bundling up near the fire in the colder months, these moments of togetherness around your fire pit will create precious memories. So, gather your materials, roll up your sleeves, and start building. With a bit of work and a sprinkle of sand, you will have a fire pit that not only elevates your outdoor area but also turns your backyard into a year-round haven.
Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on twitter: @RachelleWilber