DIY Fire Pit

What you need to know before placing a pit in your yard.

Related To:

While visiting my parents recently, I noticed something new just beyond the edge of their property.

“Is that a fire pit?” I asked.

“Oh yes, the neighbors built that themselves,” my father said, shaking his head. “On cold nights they bundle up, drag a few chairs right to the edge and drink beer with gloves on.”

He said this in an “aren’t-they-crazy tone?” and I dutifully agreed—but all I could think was how awesome that scenario sounded. So I called Patrick Devereux, owner of Stone Oak Landscapes in Cudahy, Wisconsin, to find out just how easy DIY fire pits can be.

Find Your Fire Pit Style

See All Photos

Fire Pit and Hot Tub

When night cools things down, not to worry! There's a fire pit and a hot tub. Reclaimed wood blocks make fun, sculptural seats.

Photo By: Roger Wade Photography

Fire Pit and Pool: Beach Villa Beauty in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Gather around the fire pit on cool nights or to warm up after a dip in the pool.

From: P.V. Realty, S.A. de C.V. and Luxury Portfolio International®

Photo By: P.V. Realty, S.A. de C.V., a member of Luxury Portfolio International

Yard With Hot Tub and Fire Pit

A stone amphitheater and fire pit are the center of social gatherings in this amazing backyard. Low stone benches on one side of the pit allow for the other side to serve as a stage, additional seating or even a spot for sleeping bags. The cedar hot tub is nearby, far enough away to be private, yet still enjoy the fire's flickering glow.

Fire Pit and Ocean View

To make this beach house backyard more functional, designers raised the land by 18 inches, using beach sand retained by stacked flagstones and retaining walls. Now, comfy teak chairs can cozy up to a new fire pit.

Photo By: Margie Grace

Outdoor Hearth

The stone fire pit provides the perfect spot to start your day over coffee while enjoying the coastal view. Extra seating means there is always a chair for friends and family to join.

Photo By: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

Outdoor Fire Torch

Fire pits can provide intriguing sources of light at night but there are other alternatives such as the Desert Steel Saguaro Cactus Torch which is 25 inches wide and 78 inches tall and definitely qualifies as garden art.

A Type of Fireplace called Chiminea

If your outdoor fireplace is a chiminea and you need to protect the surface area around it, the Blue Rooster Fire Resistant Hearth measures 36 inches by 36 inches and prevents sparks and embers from damaging your deck or patio area.

Decorative Steel Fire Torch

For those looking for something more decorative and ornamental than a standard fire pit there are intriguing alternatives such as the Desert Steel Passion Flower Torch which is constructed of galvanized steel and operates on torch fuel.

Beachfront Fire Pit With Bench

In this beachfront backyard, a flagstone bench has the double advantage of providing cozy fireside seating and support for the sandy "floor."

Photo By: Margie Grace

Stone Bench and Seaside Fire Pit

This seaside fire pit includes a stone bench that's seamlessly integrated into the surrounding landscape. Blue and striped yellow pillows add a hint of color and graphic pop to the picturesque hang-out spot.

Devereux, who’s put sticks and stones together in the Wisconsin area for more than 20 years, says fire pits help people warm up to the idea of heading outside when it’s cold. “They extend the time people spend outdoors late into the fall and much earlier in spring,” he says. “Clients often build entire outdoor rooms around them.”

Before you head out back with a lighter and a frosty beverage, here’s what you need to know about creating your own fire pit:

A Good Match – Fire pits should always be at least 10 feet away from the house and as far as possible from overhanging trees. “Different municipalities have different regulations and some have none,” Devereux says. “Fire pits should be the focal point outside, like it would be in a great room or den.”

Ground Control – Once you’ve nailed down a location, there are a few more decisions to make: Wood burning or gas? In- or above-ground? Devereux says most clients are asking for above-ground fire pits that are chair height to keep curious children out and the fire in.

Material World – Devereux suggests using materials that complement the architecture of your home. One of the simplest ways to create your own fire pit is to purchase an old cast-iron sugar bowl originally used to process sugar cane. Stacked stone is also super simple and doesn’t require any masonry at all.

The Heat Is On – If you’re making a wood burning fire pit, get a metal liner to act as a heat shield between the fire and the stone, then fill the bottom with pea gravel to allow for drainage. Gas pits can be constructed with a manual match light or remote control, and Devereux says bigger is better when it comes to the actual gas ring.

The Big Screen – Check the local laws: Some municipalities require a spark screen, or a metal mesh guard, to prevent sparks from getting into roofs or trees from wood burning fire pits.

Still digging the idea? Good. Grab a shovel and let’s get started:

  • Dig the ground out about 6-8 inches deep, and lay 6-8 inches of compacted gravel.
  • Lay out the stone in the correct shape, making sure the course is level in both directions. Bury the first course about halfway into the ground.
  • Start the second course of stone, staggering the joints in a bond pattern.
  • Courses can be laid dry or connected with masonry adhesive, which can be purchased at most landscape supply stores.
  • Continue until you’re up to about 18 to 24 inches. If you’re going to use a cap or coping, install it now, using mortar or masonry adhesive to set it into place.
  • Add a foot of gravel inside the fire pit for drainage and so the fire is at a visible level.
  • Add the metal liner or gas burner. Consult with a plumber before installing the gas line.
  • If using a cast-iron bowl, drill a hole in the bottom for drainage.
  • Light the fire, sit back and bask in the glow of your accomplishment!

According to Devereux, fire pits require a low level of upkeep. “Once in awhile you’ll have to shovel out the ashes, but otherwise they’re relatively maintenance free,” he says.

Keep Reading

Next Up

DIY Fire Pits

Try your hand at building your own fire pit. From simple designs to eye-catching touches, create a fire pit your family will love.

Warm Up Your Patio With a DIY Tabletop Fire Pit

The warmth of a fire pit will instantly cozy up any outdoor room. If space is an issue, make this tabletop version. It's easily customizable to fit any table, yet just as beautiful as a full-size one.

Copper Fire Pits

Learn about copper fire pits and explore the possibilities for these stylish outdoor features.

Outdoor Fire Pit Accessories

Finesse your fire pit by adding key accessories. Some are stylish; others are safety-minded. All enhance your burning experience.

Small Fire Pit Designs

You don’t need a large fire pit to enjoy cozy fireside events. Small fire pits squeeze a blaze into tiny outdoor living spaces.

Outdoor Fire Pits and Fire Pit Safety

A fire pit can add ambiance to a cool outdoor evening, and you can get one for less than you think.

Fire Pit Material Considerations

Learn about your different material options for creating a safe, attractive outdoor fire pit.

Outdoor Fire Pit Designs

Learn about your design options for an outdoor fire pit.

10 Budget-Friendly Fire Pits Under $300

Warm up your outdoor space without emptying your wallet.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.