DIY Project: How to Build a Back Yard Fire Pit (It’s Easy!)

diy outdoor fire pit

I love what a fire pit does for any yard or garden. It brings family and friends together and makes any garden into a warm, welcoming place to let go of the stress of the day. Plus, let’s be honest, it feels like camping, and who doesn’t love that? Here’s how to build a back yard fire pit step by step, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. A quick trip to the home improvement store, a little hard work and you could be roasting marshmallows tonight!

Supplies

Stone pavers, bricks, cinder blocks or other non flammable building materials

Sand or gravel

Shovel

Rake

Step One:

Decide where you want your fire pit to sit, and what dimensions you would like. Make sure you choose a spot at least 25 feet away from structures or overhanging trees. An average fire pit is from 36-45 inches across and 12 inches high.

Step Two:

Mark the center of the fire pit, the easiet way is with a stake. Then tie a string half the total diameter you want the finished pit to be. In other words, if your pit will be 36 inches across, make the string 18 inches. Tie the other end of the string to another stake or stick, and pulling the string taut, walk around the stick marking a prefect circle. This is the outline of the fire pit. Or if you choose, use marking spray paint as shown in the photo.

diy outdoor fire pit

Step Three:

Dig out the entire hole a few inches deep. This is to remove any flammable materials under the pit, and also to give space for the non flammable layer. Now start placing the stones around the perimeter of the pit. Stack the stones in a second layer until the stones or bricks are at least 12 inches tall.

diy outdoor fire pit

Step Four:

Fill the fire pit with several inches of sand or gravel to prevent fire embers from burning into the ground. Add another row of stones if necessary to keep the edge of the pit at least 12 inches above the surface of the sand.

diy outdoor fire pit

That’s it! Pull up some chairs, find some great roasting sticks, and call the neighbors… you have just built a back yard fire pit!

diy outdoor fire pit

Image Credits: aweskridge.blogspot.com, homedepot

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Comments

  1. Nice tutorial. Looks like I’m gonna be building me a fire pit. :)

  2. I wish they would have posted where they got the brick from …. Does any one know ?….

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      You can get the brick from most home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes etc….

    • You can get those bricks at Home Depot or Lowes. They are interlocking bricks for Making retaining walls.

    • Stephen Dall says:

      Home Depot, Lowes, almost every place that sells bricks and pavers have them. They are called restraining wall blocks. About $2.99-$3.99 each. Or you can get them free on Craugslist occasionally.

  3. Kathy Woodard says:

    Thanks for the mention @DIYconcept

  4. How do u stack the block with the lip on it so they are straight like the picture?

  5. What was the approx. cost for this fire pit?

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      Hi Kate,
      This fire pit can be made for just under $100, depending on the material you choose. Let us know if you make one!

  6. Hi! We had all the supplies needed to do this without going to the store so my boyfriend started building it. However he found that the lip on the pavers caused the structure to lean. How did you make it more straight then what it looks like when you use pavers with the lip. Lowes doesn’t sell pavers without the lip on them.

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      Do first row – lip down (into the dirt). Make sure it is nice and level.
      2nd row – lip up and 3rd row lip up. So only the 3rd row is sitting on a lip. It ends up being only a very slight tilt – barely noticable as you can see in the photos!

      • I ended up taking the lip off of the middle row. I used a chisel and a hammer. Wasn’t hard at all. For that section, I didn’t care if it was “pretty” where I chiseled it off, just that they would sit level.

  7. And MOST importantly, if you live in an urban development, with small backyards right near your neighbors’ houses, DON’T build a fire pit!! Because then MY house ends up smelling like a forest fire, and it’s rude and bad for the environment, & increases the risk of catching out houses on fire. This ain’t a campground!

    • I like this idea and it looks easy but….. In California someday soon it will be illegal to burn anything. I have several neighbors that burn the wrong wood, terrible smells, comes down our street right to our house. Lake Tahoe smells like wood burning not pine trees. And for someone with breathing problems it does make it unpleasant to breath wood smoke. We are putting in a propane gas fire pit. Much safer than an open flame and you will not smoke your neighbors out.

    • Thank you for mentioning that John. Being from a rural area with no neighbors I never gave having neighbors a thought. I just moved to my first house and I was so excited about making a fire pit, but I’m definitely going to talk to them first. I don’t want to make enemies in the first couple of months living on my new street.

  8. With logs coming in contact with the sides, what keeps them from scooting away from the center, especially with the lips not providing stability?

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      The stones are pretty heavy, we’ve never had a problem…and you would want to use logs that fit easily in the fire pit for safety. Thx for asking!

    • Punk,

      If you’re concerned about slipping outward, I would recommend this (but it’s going to be a little harder for some).
      Put the first row with the lip down. The same goes for second and third rows.
      Now here is the tricky part: You wold have to mount a diamond blade on a circular saw and “shave” the second row blocks, making them a little shorter, and the third row would have to be shortened a little more than second. Reason why, is because the inside diameter is getting smaller with each row because of the lip.

      Another somewhat easier method, would be to lay the first row down with little gaps between each block (gap size would be set by trial & error method, and I would start at 1/4″-5/16″). The second row would go on top with no shaving, and the blocks tight against each other. For the third row you would have to shave approximately the same amount as the gap on the first row( probably 1/4″-5/16″).
      All the rows will be with lip down.

      Regards,
      Liviu

  9. Shelley says:

    can this be used to make a gas fire pit as well? I really like the simplicity of the idea.

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      Hi Shelley, As I have no experience with gas fire pits, I don’t think I’m the one to safely advise you there… I’d suggest giving a call to a local landscape contractor and see if thats a possible DIY project. Thx!

  10. Beth Ellen says:

    What about a cover? How to buy or make one?

  11. An old hammer and chisel will take those interlocking edges off in a half an hour. Maybe a little more if you are new to the task.

  12. Adrienne Frydenger says:

    We have heard that these concrete blocks have the potential to explode when exposed to fire. Is there any truth to t his?

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      I have not heard of such a thing… I know some of the projects we used were from Home Depot and HGTV…so it is a widely used DIY project… As with any project, common sense is in order, hopefully no one is building ten foot high bonfires in small backyard fire pits! I suppose anything could explode if its misused, but we have not had any issues or known anyone with such issues… Hope that helps!

  13. Thank you so much for posting this! I had the same problem that the stones would lean out and topple over. But, I had four rows with the lip facing up in each row, and only had 11 stones in each row. I noticed here that you use 12 stones in each row, so I am going to widen my pit by one stone and use your tip to put the lip down on the first row. Thank you so much!

  14. Make sure you leave one brick out on the bottom so your fire gets oxygen.

  15. So, the metal firepit ring isn’t necessary? Those are $70 or over near me and have been the reason I haven’t done my firepit yet…
    Do you know if the concrete blocks without the lip would work without the metal liner? They are about 2x the price as those with the lip but I wouldn’t have to chisel it off. Thanks for posting this.

  16. Thanks for this tutorial, I was wondering about the lip. I’m going 4 high for child safety. I was wondering about the fire getting o2… with the ridge in the center I’d the blocks, do you think it’s enough so I dont have to leave an opening?

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      Hi Heather! That’s a good question, and Im afraid I can’t be 100% sure of the answer since we have never done one that tall… My gut says you should be fine… Please let us know if you try it, and if it works out for you!

  17. Can you build this over pavers? We have a brick patio that would be a perfect location.

    • My husband and I bought a deep fire pit with a lip around the top and metal legs on it on sale at Lowe’s at the end of the season, and instead of assembling it, we brought only the bowl part to Home Depot and dry-fit a firepit with the wall blocks right there in the garden center with blocks used to make a retaining wall. That way we knew exactly what we would need and could play around with design. We bought what we needed and rebuilt it at home on our paver patio. The fire bowl we bought is quite deep so the blocks around it are secure. And the bowl itself can be lifted out every now and then to be cleaned. Hope this helps.

  18. TOMMY HARKEY says:

    I WANT THIS

  19. paul larsen says:

    Check this out!

  20. i was wondering how many bricks this project will take if I use stone pavers?
    Thanks!

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      I think that depends on the size you want to make it! You can measure the stones that you plant to buy, then do the math to figure out how many you might need based on the size… Anyone have some better tips?

  21. Can this be built on a concrete patio?

  22. awesome idea i’m just starting a project like this and want to know how big a round your fire pit was

  23. You can add a stone surround patio. Here’s a blog link to step one….step two….so you can spread it out over various weekends! We did the firepit first, then added a flagstone patio later. Also, if you are willing to make a quick trip to your local scrap yard, we’ve added a tip to make your fire pit much more durable than the average Joe.

    http://www.interiordesigngreensboro.com/search?q=fire+

  24. hi! How do the blocks stay together? Don’t they slide/move over time?

  25. Great fire pit!
    My reservation about the fire pit has always been cleaning. How easy is it to clean? Would you recommend including a brazier or pot? What some people do where I come from is use the inner stainless steel perforated drum you get in washing machines as an inner bowl. Simply remove to clean. Also last forever and makes for a very nice mobile bbq.

  26. That looks awesome, thanks for sharing!

  27. Rob Dub says:

    Don’t the bricks have to be “fire rated” to use with open flame? I’ve always heard that non-firebrick can absorb too much moisture and then run the risk of exploding at high temps.

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      There is a lot of controversy about this…If you were building a closed fireplace that may be true, but with an open pit and smaller open flame of most home fire pits, from the research we’ve done, we don’t see an issue. However, buying fire rated cinder blocks is your best course of action if you are concerned.

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