How to Build an Easy Backyard Fire Pit

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Enjoy your yard later in the fall and earlier in the spring by adding a fire pit to your landscape. There's a primal "caveman" satisfaction to sitting around an open fire. For less than $200 and an easy weekend's worth of work you can create a focal point in your yard that is a safe and attractive place to build a fire. Check your local ordinances for limitations on outdoor fires.

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Determine Size

Layout a full circle of blocks in an area close to, but not in the area, where you're going to build your fire pit. Measure across the diameter. Round up to the nearest 6 inches and divide that measurement in half.

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Mark Excavation

Drive a steel stake in the exact center of the spot you have picked out for the fire pit. Tie loops in both ends of a piece of string, adjusting the length to match the measurement calculated in the last step. Hold the landscape paint in one end with the other end around the center stake. Walk around the center stake, painting an outline for your excavation.

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Remove Sod and Level

Remove the sod with the mattock and shovel, keeping the excavation as level as possible. Check with a level in all directions. Always adjust by removing material. Don't mound material up on the low side. It will settle over time and your fire pit will lean.

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Add Sand

Add a thin layer of sand over the entire perimeter area where you will lay the block.

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Lay First Course

Lay the blocks in the bottom row carefully, checking level of each block and of the blocks relative to each other. Add or remove sand as necessary to level each block. Be sure that you are not adding too much sand under the block. You want the blocks resting on a half inch or less of sand.

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First Course Final Inspection

When the first course is complete and level all around, the lion's share of the work is done. If you're careful with this part, the rest is as simple as working with children's building blocks.

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Add Remaining Blocks

Offset the second course, starting the middle of the block directly above a seam in the first course and with the lip at the back of the block lapped over. Repeat for the third course.

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Ready to Fire Up

Rake and clean up around the fire pit, then lay in a fire of small kindling and larger dry firewood. Enjoy with friends, family, smores and your favorite beverages.


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