How to Build a Fire Pit Just in Time For Bonfire Season

Fire pit decked out for fall

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When the air cools and the leaves start to fall, there are few things sweeter than sipping a mug of hot chocolate next to a bonfire from your own back yard. While you can always buy a pre-made fire pit, creating a more permanent structure in your backyard is a great way to add a focal point for entertaining and make it easier to start a fire each time.

The good news is that building a fire pit in your backyard is easy enough to do in a single weekend (though you can opt for more advanced and permanent structures that take longer).

Materials You'll Need for Your Fire Pit

  • Gravel
  • A shovel
  • A level
  • Landscaping bricks
  • Masonry adhesive
  • A metal fire pit ring (optional)
  • A rubber mallet

Click through for easy-to-follow steps to create a beautiful fire pit in just a weekend.

Step 1: Plan Your Design

If you're using a metal fire pit ring, you will want to opt for a circle just larger than the ring. Otherwise, you can go for a round or a square-shaped pit. A round fire pit mimics a campfire, while a square-shaped fire pit can feel a bit more modern and contemporary.

Struggling to pick a shape? Try to mimic the design of the rest of your patio or landscaping for a better flow throughout your backyard.

Step 2: Pick the Right Location

Picking the right location in your backyard is one of the keys to building the perfect fire pit. Consider a location far enough from your house and any low-hanging branches to avoid a potential fire hazard. At minimum, the fire pit should be no fewer than 10 feet from your backdoor.

You'll also want to save space around the fire pit for seating. Keep about six to seven feet of distance from any outdoor furniture to the fire pit so your other guests aren't too close to the fire. If you have a permanent location for your woodpile, consider placing your fire pit close to that.

Step 3: Start With the Foundation

Once you've decided on a location for your fire pit, level out the ground. If you have grass, you'll want to shovel the grass and dig into the soil about eight inches to create your base. Do your best to create an even surface, using a level to check your progress.

Don't worry about making it perfect—your base will even out any un-level patches.

Step 4: Add the Base

Once you've dug your base, pour gravel until the bottom is level with the ground. Not only does adding gravel help to even out your base, but it also acts as drainage after rain so your fire pit stays dry and ready for use next time.

When it comes to picking gravel, opt for a rock that is less porous and wet. Slate, granite, and marble are great choices for your base.

Step 5: Build Your Fire Pit

To start, begin to lay your stones around the edge of the gravel to create your first ring. If you're using a fire pit ring, place it first to guide your shape. As you lay the bricks, use a rubber mallet here to ensure each stone is flat against the ground.

Once you lay the first row, your next row should be staggered so that the stones' edges don't line up perfectly. Be sure to spread a layer of masonry adhesive across the bottom of the next layer of stones before you lay them. Once they're in place, use the ballot to ensure a tight fit and to close any gaps.

Continue this until you have at least three rows of blocks.

Step 7: Consider Adding Fire Bricks

If your bricks are heavy enough or you used a metal fire ring, you can skip this step. Otherwise, line your fire pit with a layer of fire bricks (also known as refractory brick.) This can keep your outer ring from deteriorating and help ensure your fire pit lasts for a long time to come.

Step 8: Enjoy Your First Fire

Now that your fire pit is complete, it's time to build your first fire. You will want to collect dry leaves and add newspaper in the middle of your fire pit to create a starter pile. Place larger twigs and branches on the outside of this, and then add your bigger logs as the starter catches fire.