Fire pits are a quick and easy way to spruce up almost any back yard. Even small spaces can accommodate a fire pit, and this trendy yard feature is the perfect way to create a seating area, define the yard and add party space—especially for homes or condos where interiors make parties a challenge.
These six DIY fire pit ideas are surprisingly simple to implement, and require few tools. Building expertise is optional, as the skills to build a fire pit involve following directions, much like using a recipe. Most homeowners already have tools on hand (shovel, level) to begin digging the foundation, and need only purchase brick or stone to build its walls. Once it’s complete, don’t forget to throw in a set of our folding recliners, which will bring the comfort to your DIY fire pit any night of the week!
Simple and Natural: river rock campfire
A round firepit is extremely easy to design, as simple as sinking a stake at the centerpoint and drawing a string around the circumference. We recommend an interior circumference of 32 to 40 inches, but size is highly customizable depending on space requirements in your yard. Once you draw a circle, use spray paint to mark and dig four to six inches below ground. The pit can be lined with gravel, pavers, or poured concrete. Pour a two inch layer of sand over whatever lining your choose and build your wall. Using very large river rock, a single layered wall about one foot high is sufficient.
Finished: gray or red brick
Using the same steps as a campfire pit, purchase gray or red brick pavers. Since pavers are made to be stacked, the only caution is to stagger them from one course to the next. Gray brick has a classy look, but repurposing old housing bricks is also an option. To keep brick from drying out and extend the life of this type of pit, use blocks that are porous. Firebrick universal is a popular and affordable style. Make sure to break one block in half and stack “half blocks” on level two to create air vents on each side. These half bricks should be inserted where a full block would be (creating two openings) exactly 180 degrees on either side of your circle.
For a sunken pit, dig deeper (at least 30 inches) and line your hole with pavers, bricks or concrete block. Line this interior completely, and pour gravel into center of pit. Concrete retaining wall blocks stack easily for a one course exterior, but for the interior a smaller block is recommended to construct a neater circle.
Fire pits do not require mortar, if stacked correctly. If stacked incorrectly, mortar won’t help for very long. However, some prefer mortar in their DIY fire pit because it can give a more finished look, especially on the top of the highest layer of bricks. When purchasing concrete mortar, look for a variety that can be mixed in small batches and consider adding a layer of concrete in your foundation, since you’ll already be mixing and working with concrete.
You can build a high-backed, mortar-free DIY fire pit that sits against another structure, including your home. Using about three times as many bricks as in the other types we’ve covered, and using smaller bricks, this style can be built up in a “throne” pattern to create a heat shield against the house. The final product will look like an outdoor fireplace, and brick placement, including precise staggering, is the key to success. Use bricks that compliment your home’s exterior.
Tree rings are concrete half circles that come pre-molded, with scalloped edges or “tops.” They are made to create a single level ring around a tree or shrub, so they are already in a half circle. Using tree rings, you can create a double-layer fire pit for around $50, and very little labor. Making a smaller, interior (14”) ring with four stones (two levels), and a larger, exterior ring (24”) with four stones, this project only requires digging the usual foundation and adding gravel between smaller and larger rings. This is the easiest, cheapest DIY fire pit on our list to build and buy for.
Looking for ways to up your DIY fire pit experience? Check out The Dyrt’s favorite campfire desserts, and dive into your own backyard dessert masterpiece!