I recently came across a tweet by a lady talking about fire pits, and I could tell that she was impressed by the fire pit she saw. She mentioned that all her life, she had only seen home-built fire pits that were made out of concrete and looked like they had a solid foundation.
She referred to those as an “old and contemporary fire pit.” I don’t blame her for this perception because I was once in her shoes. When you see a fire pit on the ground, it makes you shocked, amazed, and feel nostalgic all at once.
Whether to dig a hole for your fire pit or not depends on where you plan on installing it, the resources available, the size of the fire pit, and the situation of the chosen area. If you’re surrounded by highly inflammable substances, you might be required to dig a hole for your fire pit.
If you’re full of life and energy like me, you could dig your fire pit’s hole yourself. But if you’re not, I’d advise that you get a professional to get this done for you.
Below, I’ll be talking about whether you should or shouldn’t dig a hole for your fire pit and the four different ways to build a fire pit in your backyard.
Can You Put a Fire Pit in the Ground?
Yes, it is possible. You can indeed dig a hole for your fire pit, which implies that you will put your fire pit in the ground. To clear any confusion, with a fire pit in the ground, the flames are below the ground surface. These fire pits can also be referred to as sunken fire pits, and are commonly used in homes with large yard spaces. Indeed, you can’t put a fire pit in a house with a cramped backyard. It could turn disastrous, especially if you have much plastic or other items that can go up in flames at the slightest contact with fire.
The main advantage of this type of fire pit is that it provides a lesser risk of fire outbreak than an above-ground fire pit. Although, note that this doesn’t make it entirely impossible for this kind of fire pit to start accidental fires.
The hole dug for your fire pit is usually smaller in size, which means the fire produced will be smaller, and therefore, fewer embers might escape. In a house with kids and pets, this is not a safe option as they can easily stumble on the fire pit.
Finally, as with other types of fire pits, it is recommended to build it at a safe distance from other structures, especially your house.
If you are planning to get a fire pit for your property, you need to familiarize yourself with its parts and how it works to make sure that you will be able to use it safely. One of the things that you need to know about is the material that you are going to use to line the bottom of your fire pit. Here are 5 things you can put at the bottom of a backyard fire pit.
4 Ways to Build a Backyard Fire Pit
There are numerous ways to build different types of fire pits for your backyard, whether in-ground or above-ground, using different materials. These various options exist for different home designs. All you have to do is go through the list, see which works best for you, and simply go with it.
We will be considering four ways to do it yourself.
1. Stone Fire Pit (round)
Stone, concrete, firebricks, string, rebar spray paint, black stove paint, landscape fabric, and mortar.
Rake, level, jointer, tape measure, utility knife, trowel, spade, shovel, wheelbarrow, hammer, and a stiff brush.
- Choose a location for your fire pit and determine its size and shape.
- Use a string to measure half the diameter of the inner side of the fire pit, and spray paint around to create a circle.
- Spray paint a bigger (outer) circle, which is the diameter of the entire fire pit.
- Prepare a pre-mixed cement and spread it in the space between the outer and inner circles until it is 2 inches below grade, and allow it to dry.
- Put the first course of face stone in place (on the outer wall) and lay the first row of fire bricks (on the inner wall) using a trowel and mortar to press them together.
- Apply mortar to the end of the next brick and on top of the previous stone before merging.
- Build the wall by alternating stones and fire bricks until you get to your desired height.
- Use rebar as reinforcement.
- Apply mortar to the top of the fire pit wall and lay flat stones.
- Create a 3-inch deep seating area.
- Use cut landscape fabric to fit and top the seating area with crushed stones.
- Spray the fire pit with water to remove dirt.
- Spray the interior of the fire pit with black stove paint when it is dry.
2. Truck Wheel/Metal Rim Fire Pit
Truck tire rim or metal rim, wall block, flat stones, paint, cement, gravel, and sand.
Shovel, rake, and wheelbarrow.
- Choose a location and clear the area of grass.
- Place the truck tire/metal rim in the center of the area.
- Arrange the wall block around the rim and use mixed cement to reinforce it.
- Arrange the blocks on each other until they reach the height of the tire rim.
- With the use of cement, use flat stones to lay the surrounding of the pit, and allow to dry.
- Paint the inner rim to your desired color and wait for it to dry.
- Pour the sand into the rim to form the base, then pour gravel over it and use a rake to level it.
3. Retaining Wall Block Fire Pit
Retaining wall blocks, wall caps, concrete mix, and gravel.
Stake, string, spray paint, mallet, shovel, circular saw, and diamond blade.
- Decide on the dimensions you want.
- Use a stake in the center and a string to create a perimeter.
- Mark the perimeter with spray paint and clear the grass around the marked area.
- Fill the cleared area with gravel and lay the first layer of blocks.
- Lay the next layer to cover up the gaps in the first layer, which appear due to the use of square blocks for a circular fire pit.
- Create as many layers as needed, depending on the desired height.
- Cement the block together with a concrete mix.
- Seal every internal hole with a concrete mix and spray the interior with high heat spray paint.
- Place the capstone on top of the block and cut them to form a circle.
- Cement the capstone in place.
- Finish by adding gravel to the inside of the pit.
4. In-ground Fire Pit (round)
Bricks, coarse concrete sand, marking paints, gravel or lava rocks, flat rocks, and concrete adhesives.
Shovel, safety glasses, tape measure, rake, wheelbarrow, and a mallet.
- Decide on the size of your pit.
- Mark the location with a string wrapped around a stake and a marking paint to draw a circle.
- Using the marked circle as a landmark, dig a hole about 12 inches deep.
- Fill the hole with a 4-inch layer of lava rocks and rake the top layer flat.
- Place bricks around the hole and secure them into the base with a mallet.
- Remove the sod from the rim with a shovel.
- Place flat rocks around the rim of the hole to sit partially on the bricks.
- Fill the space between the rock and the brick with dirt.
Knowing the process of making a fire pit is not enough to get you started. Always ensure you check with the proper authorities in your area for permission, and know what type of fire pit you cannot make use of. Besides, in some areas, it is illegal to burn wood, so you might want to opt for a gas fire pit instead.
The next thing to do is inform your neighbors of this new addition to your backyard to avoid getting them alarmed unnecessarily. No matter how much you love a fire pit, do not disturb people around with smoke, and opt for an environmentally friendly one.
In addition, ensure the fire has gone out before going indoors and douse the fire correctly. Always ensure you have safety measures in place to put out any fire in case of emergencies.
Is your fire pit not generating enough heat? This will be a problem, especially during the colder months. If you want your fire to burn stronger and generate more heat, check out our 5 ways to get more heat from your fire pit.
A fire pit is a great addition to your backyard, especially when hanging out with family and friends. There is no specific way to procure or build a fire pit as it depends on your preferred design and style and the area where you want to place the fire pit. So, do not limit your tastes to what you’ve seen at your friend’s place. Instead, do more research, be creative, and innovate in terms of designs according to your taste and style.
Although, sometimes, your taste might not be the safest option. Figure out the kind of fire pit that you want then check whether it is the safest option for your space. If not, try to alter it in a way that makes it safer. If it’s still not safe even after making some changes, it’s time to change the design altogether. Keep in mind to always choose safety over style.