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DIY Fire Pit for Your Yard

Mike and Sharon Haydn of LaGrange, Ohio, wanted to build a fire pit for their son’s birthday. Their son and daughter-in-law own a home on a large plot of land in the country, and the Haydns wanted them to enjoy entertaining guests outside by a campfire.

They found a plan in The Handyman magazine and asked themselves the following questions:

1.     How large did they want the fire pit?

The Haydns chose to create a 20-foot circle.

2.     Where would it be located?

Their son had an area behind his garage that overlooked a small pond. Since he often entertained in his garage, the fire pit would become a natural gathering spot. Plus, it was close enough to electricity in case they’d need it and out of the way of the neighbors’ property line.

3.     What safety precautions did they need to take?

The Haydns checked for underground utilities, cable TV wires and anything else that might be buried under the ground. They made sure the site for the fire pit was high and level so it wouldn’t attract puddles. They also built it away from trees, power lines and buildings.

4.     What municipal codes did they need to follow?

Since the Haydns’ son lives in the country, they didn’t have to abide by any municipal codes or pay any fees to build the fire pit.

What You’ll Need (Materials in bold.)

To create the 20-foot circle, they drove a post in the center of the area and tied a 10-foot-long string to the post. This served as a sort of compass, and they sprayed the grass with marking paint to create the circle.

To clear out the grass in the circle, they dug it out about two inches with a front-end loader. However, if you don’t have access to a tractor, they recommend you rent a sod ripper from a local hardware or rental store.

“They’re a little larger than a hand lawn mower, are self-propelled and have a blade, which peels the grass off in strips, and the machine is easy to operate,” Sharon said. “The grass strips can be rolled up and — I prefer — composted.”

She recommends you lay down some kind of weed barrier, such as old carpeting, over the bare soil, fuzzy side down.

Then, lay some stones over the weed barrier for the base. The Haydns used about three tons of #304 limestone gravel, a mixture of #4 and #10 gravel, which is one-eighth of an inch to two inches in diameter. “It compacts very well and is an excellent base,” Sharon said. Rake it out evenly and roll over it with a tractor to compact it.

To create your fire ring, lay out 12 decorative blocks in the center of the gravel ring to create a circle for the base layer and offset the second 12 blocks to make the top layer. Gather kindling and firewood for your first campfire.

Sharon said, “The entire project, as we built it, without barrier or sod ripper rental, was about $300.” The project took one weekend from start to finish.