How to Build the Perfect Fire Pit This Fall

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When we first walked our property prior to purchasing our home, we immediately started dreaming about a place to build a fire pit. Once moving in, we kept going back and forth between where to put it, and then I found the perfect spot. The only problem was that there was a tree smack-dab in the middle of where we wanted to put it. And a huge bush. Oh, and the bush was growing into the tree. 

But it really was the perfect spot… the perfect distance from the house, visible through the kitchen, stairwell, and loft windows. It was close to the playset so kids could migrate back and forth between the swing, slide, and s’mores. It was visible from the street so that we could invite neighbors to join us. But that tree… 

Well, my sweet husband agreed that this was the perfect spot and proceeded to chop that tree down and then dig out the stump and roots. Y’all, he said the stump weighed at least 300 pounds and had an extensive root system. But, he worked for hours… after work, during lunch breaks, on the weekends and got that stubborn stump out. 

I think the only thing I did on this project was help lay a few bricks and some weed barrier–the rest was all Carson and Linc! It was so cute watching them… Linc helped Carson move small sticks and small bricks, and then he helped him build our first fire. 

We’ve only had our firepit finished for a few weeks but have already used it more times than I can count. Carson combined 3 or 4 different fire pit plans that he read about online to make the perfect fire pit for our family! Here’s what he did if you’re wanting to make one of your own this fall:

Step 1: Clear the Land if Necessary

Remove the tree stump. If you can avoid building where a tree is, we highly recommend it.

Step 2: Check Local Guidelines

We called our fire department to make sure our firepit was within city code because we are within city limits. It had to be 15 feet from the house and no more than 3 feet across the burn pit. Each city has different laws, so make sure to check before building. 

Step 3: Draw the Outer Circle

We got a 36 inch galvanized fire pit ring and then put a stake in the center of it. We found the ring secondhand for $20, but I linked a similar one above. Carson tied an 8 foot string and spray painted a circle with a 16 foot diameter around the stake. 

Step 4: Dig Out Circle

Dig out the top grass and soil with a square shovel to get a straight edge down. Dig about 3 inches deep around and in the circle. 

Step 5: Till the Soil

We rented a gas tiller from Home Depot. Carson tilled the ground to make it easier to level out the dirt. He also was able to till a few garden beds within the 4 hour time frame we had the rental for. 

Step 6: Level the Soil

After tilling, Carson spread the dirt with a metal rake. Then, he used a metal stamper to make sure the ground was firm and level.

Step 7: Dig Out Circle for Center Bricks

Next, he dug out 3-4 inches deep starting where the bricks would go around the fire pit ring and included the center of the ring. 

Step 8: Level Center Ring

He repeated the process above and leveled out the center of the ring. We also put an inch or two of paver base in the center of the ring. He added a hole a few inches deep for water drainage in the middle of the circle.

Step 9: Lay Center-Ring Bricks

We bought 56 Old Castle Betis 4×11 bricks from Home Depot. They aren’t fireproof because we have the galvanized ring, but if you aren’t using a ring we recommend getting fireproof bricks or stones. We put one layer of the larger bricks in the ground and then stacked three more layers on top that are above ground. 

Step 10: Lay Weed Barrier

We laid cardboard around the outside ring of the fire pit and stretched and staked weed barrier on top of it.

Step 11: Lay Outside Bricks

We lined the outside ring of the firepit by alternating 78 of these smaller Old Castle Mini Beltis 3x8x4 Tan Charcoal Concrete bricks from Home Depot. 

Step 12: Fill Circle with Gravel

Our neighbor works at a construction company and generously brought us several tons of gravel to fill our firepit. Most cities have places that have gravel you can pick up by the ton or have delivered for a higher charge. We used about two tons of a medium sized gravel. 

Finished Project

We already had the white chairs, and we scored the Andorak chair on Facebook for $10. We found a local craftsman who makes them out of wood pallets, and we are buying four of those for $100 total to use in place of the white chairs. The stumps were left by the previous owners and are perfect for child-sized seats or side tables. We would love to add lights someday, but we are very happy with the outcome of this firepit thus far!

Investment

We were able to save some money by buying a galvanized ring secondhand and having gravel delivered locally, but you could also do this even more frugally by buying bricks secondhand or foregoing the outer ring. Here’s a breakdown of the cost for this project. It wasn’t cheap, but it was an investment that we will enjoy not only this fall but also for years to come! A firepit is also a great way to interact with people outside during covid and a great way to meet neighbors as they walk by! Doing it yourself is definitely cheaper than hiring it out, and there are lots of bricks and pavers available secondhand if you take the time to look. 

  • Galvanized Ring: $20 (bought secondhand)
  • Tiller Rental: $30 (for 4 hours)
  • Spray Paint: $5
  • Weed Barrier Stakes: $9
  • Weed Barrier: $30 (total for 2 rolls)
  • Tools: $0 (already had or borrowed)
  • Large Bricks: $248 (for 56 bricks)
  • Small Bricks: $138 (for 76 bricks)
  • Gravel: $120 (for 2 tons delivered)

Total Cost: $600


This project took a us a few weeks but it could probably be completed sooner if you have multiple people working on it and choose to build where there isn’t a large tree. Carson had limited hours when he was able to work on this, but he far exceeded my expectations and did a lot of research–combining multiple ideas that he found online–ultimately building the perfect fire pit.

Last night, we were sitting around the fire, roasting s’mores, talking about how building this firepit has already been worth the investment. It is the perfect place to gather around with friends and family or for a romantic date night at home! If you end up building your own firepit, we’d love to see your variation! Tag us on Instagram @themilleracres so we can see and share your work!

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