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6 Ways to Build a Fire Pit

By Galen Vistica

A backyard fire pit is one of the most popular of all landscaping features.  Just imagine having a beautifully constructed ring of bricks or stones sitting in your yard just waiting to roar with flames. There are few greater joys than being able to sit around a warm fire with family and friends.  Whether it’s just to set the mood for a gathering or to cook up a tasty dinner, you can’t go wrong with a fire pit.

When considering a fire pit for your own backyard, there are several things to take into consideration.  This article will teach you everything you need to go build one yourself!  Most of the designs in this article can be built in a single weekend. Some of the designs cost nothing but time.  And, all of the designs are worth the effort!  

Fire pits should be built on a level surface and at a distance from all brush, structures, and overhanging branches. There are local codes governing the exact distances and safety measures that must be in place to legally have and use a fire pit in your yard.  To learn about the particular codes in your area, call the local Building Inspection Department.  Their phone numbers are easy to find online and they should be able to answer any questions you have over the phone, they probably won’t even have to come inspect the fire pit once it’s completed.

When choosing a location, it’s a good idea to check which way the wind usually blows in your yard and try to place the pit so that the smoke won’t travel towards the house or towards any neighbors’ houses.  

Since you’re the one building the pit, you can decide what materials it will be made of and how big you want it to be.  Concrete blocks, stone, and bricks are the most common building materials, and the pit should have an interior diameter of 36 to 44 inches.  Any smaller and there’s not enough room for the fire to get very big, and if the ring is any bigger then it will feel more like a bonfire than a campfire.

By putting gravel at the bottom you can allow for drainage and also creates a level foundation to begin setting the blocks for the wall.

Any fire pit should be at least partially buried in the ground.  The walls should be set below ground far enough to provide extra stability and should come no more than a foot off the ground for most pits.  

To make the pit safer and last longer, it can be lined with a steel ring like the one used for campfires.  It is also possible to use things like truck wheels to save some money on the ring. The metal ring serves two main purposes.  

1.  It protects the concrete or stone blocks from the direct heat, which extends their life.
2.  Having the metal ring reinforces the structural integrity of the whole pit.

There are a wide variety of fire pits that can be built in just a couple days, all of the ones here don’t require any special tools, could be easily built by anyone, and are inexpensive.  With everything being so easy and inexpensive, there’s no reason to not build a fire pit for the coming holidays.

This list of fire pits is by no means comprehensive, as it does not address gas fed fires.  In order to have a gas fire pit, you will need to hire a professional to do all of the work that involves the gas system.  Since having someone else doing the work takes all the fun out of a do-it-yourself project, we’ll be focusing on wood fires.  

Also, remember that all of these DIY tutorials are not meant only to give instruction but inspiration.  If you see ideas from designs that you want to combine, go for it!  

This is a very simple and inexpensive fire pit made from concrete retaining wall blocks.  

These two fire pit designs are a bit fancier and will fit nicely in a backyard that has been landscaped.  They have a nice stone and mortar pit with a gravel ring around it to control weeds and enhance the presence of the pit in your yard.  


This design is very similar to the previous two, but it does not include the gravel ring around the edge of the pit.

If you want a fire pit that can be easily moved but is still stable and appealing, this may be the one for you.  It has stacked cement retaining blocks and a steel ring.  No masonry adhesive. 

If you would prefer to have a square fire pit instead of the typical round ones, take a look at this.

For those of you that want a much simpler pit or have a smaller budget, this fire pit will likely be the one for you.  It will take very little time to complete and will work perfectly well for persons who want a campground fire pit.  This pit is so simple it barely needs a tutorial, just dig a hole and surround it with rocks.

If you have been following the links, I’m sure you’ve noticed that many of the designs have a steel ring on the inside of the fire pit.  If the standard steel ring is appealing to you, they are available at home improvement stores.  But for those of you that want to continue in the DIY spirit, here are some alternatives to purchasing the inner ring.

Washing machine drum.

Semi-truck wheel