Do It Yourself Outdoor Fire Pits

An outdoor fire pit is a wonderful place to spend an evening with your family and friends. There's something deeply satisfying about gazing into your own flames, and just about everyone enjoys cooking hot dogs and making s'mores outside. An outdoor fire pit is a great project for a do-it-yourselfer. Adapt the plans according to your skill level and the available materials to make a do-it-yourself outdoor fire pit you'll be proud of.

  • Stake or sturdy stick
  • Piece of string
  • Trowel
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Level
  • Stackable, interlocking stones
  • Pea gravel
Select a spot. Build your fire pit in an area free of brush or overhanging branches, and far enough away from buildings and fences that a stray spark will not cause an uncontrolled fire.

Lay out the site. Tie one end of the string to the stake and hammer the stake firmly into the center of the fire pit area. Stretch the string tight and make a gouge in the earth with the trowel where the end of the string falls. Move the end of the string a few inches to the right and mark again, continuing until you have marked off a circle with the stake as its center. Remove the stake.

Prepare the ground. With the shovel, connect the marks you've made until you've outlined the circle that's the size you want. Remove any sod or other plants and rake the ground smooth, leveling it with the level.

Lay the walls. Place the first layer of stones very close together around the edge of the circle, keeping them level by adding or removing soil underneath them with the trowel. When the layer is complete, rake the soil smooth again and push it firmly against the stones with your hands. Add one or two more layers of stones, staggering them so that the edges between the stones don't overlap.

Pour the gravel. Once the walls are complete, fill the pit to a depth of 6 inches with clean pea gravel.

Tips and Warnings

  • You may choose to put flagstones or other large, flat rocks on top of the pea gravel to make it easier to remove the ashes from your fire pit.
  • Check local laws. Some areas have strict rules about outdoor burning, so find out what your city, county or state codes will allow. This is especially important in areas prone to brush fires or forest fires. If you aren't sure where to ask, start with your local fire department.

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