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Fast, Easy DIY Backyard Fire Pit Ideas

Fast, Easy DIY Backyard Fire Pit Ideas
teens roasting marshmallows

By Stephanie Jarrett, Everything Arlington, TX!

Cooler weather has arrived, and there is nothing like spending time in the backyard with loved ones lounging in the backyard (especially in a comfy chair!). One of my favorite ways to enjoy my backyard this time of year is around my DIY fire pit, roasting marshmallows and hot dogs with my girls, enjoying the warmth of the fire while wrapped in a flannel blanket on a chilly evening. 

When we moved last summer, my husband suggested we DIY our own fire pit to enjoy in our new backyard. I’ll admit- I was skeptical. I’m no Chip Gaines. Creating something that could withstand and contain fire seemed daunting. However, after a quick YouTube tutorial, I knew my husband was right. We could do a DIY fire pit quickly and easily.  

Store-Bought Fire Pit versus DIY Fire Pit

Store-bought fire pits or fire tables, while gorgeous, can oftentimes come with a hefty price tag. Luckily, they are pretty easy to create a DIY fire pit if you want to save a few dollars. If you have a handy husband (like I do!), or are great at following rather simple tutorials, you can make one quick trip to your local hardware store and DIY a fire pit yourself. You just need a few hours to successfully build a DIY fire pit you can enjoy year-round. There are several ways to build a fire pit easily, quickly and inexpensively in your backyard to roast marshmallows over and spend time with friends around. 

How To DIY Your Own Backyard Fire Pit

Before you go purchase materials, you need to decide where in your yard the fire pit will be, and decide whether you want an in-ground or above-ground fire pit. You want to select a spot far enough from trees and low-hanging branches that there is no chance a fire could spread beyond its container. Find a spot that won’t be in a common walkway or play area because once the fire pit is built, depending on type of fire pit and materials used, it won’t be easy to move. You will need to clear all debris from the area, including grass, before you start assembling your fire pit, and even out and smooth the ground and dirt where the fire pit will be built. Also, check with your city or municipality to make sure there aren’t any laws or ordinances regarding open flames at a residence. 

Now you are ready to DIY a fire pit! 

How to Build an Above Ground Fire Pit

Materials needed:  

  • Cinderblocks, bricks, cement blocks or retaining wall blocks to build an elevated circle  
  • Pea gravel, sand or river rock (or small pavestones) to line the bottom of the pit 
  • Optional materials: retaining wall adhesive or mortar (if you want to secure the bricks to one another) 
  1. Start by measuring and marking the size of the circle (or square) you want to use for your firepit. When my husband I made ours, we used white spray paint to mark the outline on the soil.  
  1. Then start laying and stacking the bricks (or other material you’ve chosen) to lay a foundation. If you don’t have kids underfoot, you may find that adhering the bricks or cinderblocks to one another isn’t necessary if you stack them firmly enough. However, if you have kids who can’t wait to roast marshmallows around a fire, securing the bricks to one another so they don’t fall on toes if they become dislodged is a great step to take to ensure the fire pit lasts!  
  1. Once you have stacked the bricks to your desired height, try to firm up any gaping holes in the stack with smaller pieces of brick or by moving bricks closer together and inserting additional bricks.  

We found pea gravel to be an easy floor for our fire pit. We have friends who recommended river rocks and also saw tutorials with fire pits where pavestones were used to create the floor of the pit, but that required more effort that we wanted! Alternately, if your fire pit just has a dirt floor, as it should, you don’t necessarily need a base there if you don’t want one for aesthetic reasons.  

How to Install an In-Ground Fire Pit

Materials needed:  

  • Bricks to line the hole you dig in the ground to secure the soil 
  • Cinderblocks, cement blocks or bricks to build a slightly elevated circle or decorative stones if you’d rather the fire pit be level with the ground 
  • Pea gravel, river rock, pavestone or sand to line the bottom of the pit; Hoe and/or shovel to dig the hole 
  • Optional materials: mortar or landscape adhesive 
  1. Start by marking the area you want to use as the base of your fire pit. Use spray paint or string to mark the circle you intend to dig out to create your in-ground fire pit. Then, dig a hole that is about six to eight inches deep.  
  1. Lay bricks around the perimeter of the hole you’ve dug, stacking them vertically side by side. Make sure they are snug to prevent the surrounding ground from sliding into the hole you’ve dug. Stack bricks around the hole until the dirt perimeter is covered by bricks.  
  1. Create the top of the fire pit. You can do this one of two ways. You can simply decorate around the fire pit with stones to designate where the fire pit is but have it remain flush with the ground, or you can stack several layers of brick of cinderblock around the top of the fire pit to create an elevated circle. If you do choose to elevate the fire pit above ground level, be careful of stacking too high. You want to be able to see the flames as they burn! 
  1. Line the bottom of the pit with pavestone, pea gravel or river rock.  

More DIY Fire Pit Ideas

An awesome addition to have with either fire pit is both a mesh covering and a grill. The mesh covering can be placed over the top of the fire pit when you are done using it to prevent debris (and even small animals) from getting inside the pit and getting stuck. The grill comes in handy when the warmer weather hit and you want to grill different meat over the open flames. Yum! 

My husband joked that it isn’t even necessary to build a fire pit in your backyard if you aren’t worried about something that looks nice. You could use a drum from an old washing machine or a wheel well as a receptacle to contain a backyard fire. Or any large metal canister. Just don’t expect these items to last as long as a stone fire pit would- they will eventually rust over and need to be tossed.  

Then pull up a few camp chairs, grab some marshmallows and enjoy your new DIY fire pit! 

About The Author

Casey Christiansen

Casey supports the PR team at Zulily.

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