A backyard fire pit can add a lot to your outdoor experience. Fire pits have a way of gathering people together; little kids learn how to make s’mores, and older ones learn how to start a fire. It’s a prime spot for stories, music, and kicking back with a drink in hand and letting the slow summer and early fall nights roll on by.
But when it comes to how to build a fire pit, it’s easy to get intimidated. There’s no need, and here are a few simple pointers to help you with your own warm and welcoming backyard spot.
First off, make sure you’ve chosen a safe and practical spot for your fire pit. You don’t want all your hard work to be washed away if the rain comes, but you also don’t want your backyard experience to be overly flammable, either. Choose a spot that won’t wash out but isn’t too close to any buildings. Where you put your fire pit in your yard, however, also very much depends on where you are geographically situated.
If you’re in a particularly arid region of the country—Arizona, for instance—then pretty much everything is dry enough to be flammable. This touches on issues of drought management. You don’t want an out-of-hand fire pit ruining your hard work on the rest of your property. In that case, start thinking about a lot of stone tiling, lining the base of the pit, thick stone fire pit walls, and safe wood storage. A spark is especially dangerous in a dry climate.
On the other hand, if you are building a fire pit just outside of Seattle, it’s going to be a different story. There really isn’t too much need to worry about tiling or paving everything with stone, other than for aesthetic or comfort purposes, for the simple reason that a stray spark hitting the mud isn’t going to be as dangerous as it would be in California or Arizona.
Let’s think about the purpose of the fire pit. Are you a 20-something with no plans for children but instead a plan for chill nights on your own? Is this something just for you and a couple of friends, or for big parties with a vast age range? The answers to these questions will help you hammer out your fire pit ideas.
- If you’re planning on holding big gatherings and making the fire pit a party spot, be extra cautious.
- Whether you’re throwing 21-and-up parties or teaching lots of small children the wonders of s’mores and hot chocolate, you want to make sure the area around the fire pit is level, free of tripping hazards, and appropriately built for your geographical location.
- If this is just for yourself and a few others, it doesn’t matter so much if the fire pit is on a bit of a slant or a hillside, so long as the walls are built safely, and you ensure the fire can’t get out of hand.
- Consider how much cooking you’re going to do over the fire and plan accordingly.
Materials for the Party Spot
Let’s say your fire pit is destined to be the spot where family and friends gather together, share a few drinks, and hang out all summer long.
In this case, you want your materials to be as sturdy, long-lasting, and hassle-free as possible. Consider paving your fire pit area, as described above, and keep the area free of all tripping hazards. Think about seating: Do you want camp chairs or permanent seating? How many people are you planning on hosting? How much space do you need?
Try to leave enough space for your guests to be able to sit about five feet away from the fire and build your pit accordingly.
As for materials, consider building your fire pit out of stone or brick or purchasing a metal fire pit ring. Store the wood or coal in a safe, dry location out of the reach of any sparks, and you’re good to go.
Materials for the Quiet Hang-Out
On the other hand, if you’re looking for some quiet, chilled-out fire pit ideas, consider the following:
- Even though you aren’t planning on a crowd, consider safety. Keep the area around the fire pit clear of any tripping or flammable hazards.
- Consider building it out of stone or purchasing a metal ring. Both are fairly easy and safe!
- Even if you don’t build a wall of stone or purchase a big metal ring, line the outside of your fire pit with rocks to help with keeping the fire where it’s supposed to be.
- Remember, it’s for chilling. Plan out where you want to put your chairs and your hammock, and always keep a safe distance from the fire.
Cooking Over Your Fire Pit
There are a lot of ways to cook over the fire, and most of them are tasty.
If you’re going to roast hot dogs and marshmallows, make sure your fire pit is sturdily built (so nobody trips) and that you have long enough cooking rods or sticks so nobody gets burned.
However, if you would like to grill over your fire pit, consider this in your building process. You may want to purchase a simple grill top you can lay over the mouth of the fire pit. This also opens up the option of using a pan on top of the grill to fry or sauté food outdoors, as well.
These are just the basic options. Options for cooking food outdoors are endless—with enough determination, you could brick-lay your own outdoor pizza oven—so try to think about what’s best and most practical for you.
Enjoying Life Outdoors
Ultimately, no one can tell you how to build your fire pit. It really does come down to what fits your lifestyle and your personal choices. As long as you, your friends, and your family stay safe and happy while relaxing around the fire, that’s what matters.
Think about your location, choose your fire pit’s primary purpose, decide on the best materials, and go for it. Enjoy food, friends, family, and all the benefits that come with a life lived outdoors.