Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A DIY Fire Pit

Hi there, it's been a while since my last post. I apologize. Life simply gets in the way sometimes.

I have quite a few finished projects on my "to blog" list, but I am going to jump ahead and write about the fire pit that I built a few weeks ago.

Photo: First fire in the fire pit I built #feelingaccomplished

Fire mesmerizes me. It calms me and makes me feel connected to all the multitude of generations before me who gathered around a fire. I could go on and on about that, but I'll spare you and get to the details.

Over Christmas break, I burned a fire in my mother's re-purposed iron fire pit almost every afternoon. I started this ritual somewhat out of desperation because Stella and Atticus, my parent's pit bull and my growing coonhound, destructively played all afternoon long and needed to be outside but wouldn't stay out without a human companion. As I enjoyed these afternoons, I started to think about building a pit in my backyard at school. It is much smaller than my parent's yard, but I figured that I had enough room. Not wanting to spend the amount of money that a nice iron fire pit costs, I decided I would see if I could build one. I looked on Pinterest, but most of the tutorials that I found were quite involved and almost as expensive as a big metal one would be. 

So, one nice afternoon, I headed over to Home Depot. I wandered around the landscaping section, pricing and brainstorming. I settled on 30 of these red concrete retaining wall blocks and a bag of garden rocks. These blocks came in a few different colors, but I stuck with red since the bricks around my herb and vegetable gardens are red.

Two nice employees loaded the blocks into the back of my Subaru, and I headed home as the sun was setting. I really wanted to get the blocks unloaded that day, so I raked away the leaves from the area where I planned to build the pit and turned over the soil in a rough circle, making sure to keep the ground as level as possible. We do not have much grass in our backyard, so I did not have to deal with that burn hazard. If you have grass, you'll want to remove it from the pit circle before you begin to place the blocks. 

I put on garden gloves and headed out to carry stones from the car through the house because we do not have an easily accessible gate to the backyard. Atticus was quite excited about the whole operation and kept up with me most of the time. The blocks were relatively heavy, but I was able to carry two at a time. I laid the bottom of three circles, consisting of ten blocks, with the back groove positioned down because I knew I wouldn't like the appearance of the grooves showing on the top blocks. 

Moving onto the second layer of blocking, I alternated them as brick layers often do. This helped with stability and aesthetics. I finished with the third layer of bricks, matching the placement of the bottom layer.

I put the pavers that you see in the first picture around the pit the next day to help with reducing the burn hazard and to give a dry place to walk since it can be a little muddy near the pit after a rain.

A rare snow in Alabama

Here's a break down of my costs: 

Wall blocks: 30 blocks x $1.91 = $57.30
Rocks: 1 bag = $3.98
Pavers (optional): 25-30 pavers gift from a neighbor = $0.00
            but these look similar (30 x 1.74 = $52.20)

My Total: $61.28 plus tax
Total (with optional pavers): $113.48 plus tax

So, without having to buy the pavers that aren't necessary, the total comes well below a nice metal pit.  I've been very pleased with the pit thus far. I've burned fires with friends and a few small ones on nights when it is just me and Atticus. I'm sure there will be many more nights around the fire this spring and fall. My father sent some pecan wood with my mom this weekend, and I can't wait to try it out on Friday night.


  1. Love this!! Thank you for sharing.

  2. You have given Uncle Bob and I a project we can work on together!!!
    We love a good fire....

    1. I hope you and Uncle Bob enjoy your new project! Thanks for reading!