Introduction: $50 Fire Pit Using Concrete Tree Rings

Picture of $50 Fire Pit Using Concrete Tree Rings

We recently moved from the remote north woods of Wisconsin where people create great lakeside campfires by digging large fire pits into the ground and lining them with large rocks. We now live in a residential neighborhood in the Central Valley of California. Here, campfires are confined to pre-built pits or structures. People build only small controlled fires to minimize the risk of sparks blowing into neighboring combustibles when the fire is left unattended. These smaller campfires are also easy to extinguish, with less risk of embers continuing to burn.

Even with these restrictions, our family still loves to sit outside around an evening fire in the backyard. But we didn’t want to spend a small fortune on a pre-manufactured patio fire pit or a contractor built unit. We were also not sure where we might permanently want the pit located. So we needed something we could take down and move to a different spot without a lot of trouble or expense.

Fortunately, while cruising the aisles of Home Depot recently, we saw concrete tree rings (circles that are used for flower beds at the base of a tree) on sale for $2 a section. We borrowed a tape measure and quickly determined that the rings might make a dandy low cost fire pit that would incorporate a small Weber grill (which we already owned) as an inner firepot, allowing a very controlled burn and positive air shut-off to extinguish the fire when we were ready to call it a night.


  • Weber Smokey Joe Portable charcoal grill or equivalent 14" diameter grill to be an insert in the rings ($30 new)
  • 4 sections of 14" inside diameter concrete tree ring ($2 to $3 each = $8-$12 total) -6 sections of 24" inside diameter concrete tree ring ($2 to $3 each = $12-$18 total)
  • 2 cubic feet of small stones, pebbles, road gravel or decorative rock ($0-$20 depending on how fancy)

Total cost: $50-$80 depending on your taste in stones.

Step 1: Constructing the Inner Ring.

Picture of Constructing the Inner Ring.

Find a nice level area of your yard or create a level circle approximately 3 feet in diameter. It's not absolutely necessary but we sprayed our pit area with weed and grass killer to make a bare spot. You will notice the ring of browned grass surrounding the pit in the final photos. This is due to the weed killer and not the result of heat from the fire. We also placed a layer of weed barrier cloth under the pit to prevent grass/weed from growing up into the pit. The tree rings will be more stable on bare earth than on grass, particularly if you have Bermuda grass like we do. Also, you should have no problem if you want to place your pit on top of a concrete or brick patio.

The trick to turning tree rings into a decent looking fire pit is to make the ring two sections tall by turning the fluted top sections upside down so they interlock with the fluted bottom sections. The first photo shows what the 14" tree ring sections look like when you buy them from the store and the second photo shows them stacked. They don’t fit perfectly but the small air gaps look sort of decorative in my estimation and are barely noticeable once the unit is being used.

Step 2: Adding an Outer Ring

Picture of Adding an Outer Ring

We thought the 14" tree rings looked a little puny by themselves, so to give the fire pit more mass we surrounded the inner ring of 14" tree ring sections with an outer ring of 24" diameter sections. The sections are 2" thick, so the outer diameter of the completed fire pit will be 28".

Note that the 24" outer rings have a very convenient tab type locking design. One end of each section has a tab and the other end has a slot. This helps a great deal to stabilize the rings when they are stacked two high.

Step 3: Filling the Void

Picture of Filling the Void

You will quickly notice that when the 14" rings are stacked inside the 24" rings that there is a 3" gap between the inner and outer rings. You will also notice that each 14" ring is about an inch shorter than each 24" ring. To solve both of these problems the outer ring is erected first and then filled approximately 2" deep with small stones. The inner ring is then set on top of those stones. You’ll have to do a bit of trial and error to insure the tops of the inner and outer rings will be level when they are completed. Once the inner and outer rings are in place, fill the 3" void between the rings with more stone.

Step 4: Installing the Weber

Picture of Installing the Weber

The Weber Smokey Joe grill may come with legs attached. If so, unscrew the 3 connecting screws and set aside the legs. In an amazingly beneficial coincidence, the Weber grill is perfectly sized to slip right into the inner circle of the pit and just enough lip remains above the surface of the pit for the cover to fit tightly in place. Once the Weber is in place and you start a fire, it would be difficult and perhaps hazardous to adjust the lower air vent of the grill. So set the vent opening however you want before you put the grill in place. I set ours about half open and it works great for creating nice small fires. And when the cover is put on and the top vent closed, the fire will go out in very short order. If you want or need more or less bottom air for your fire, you can easily remove the grill to adjust it between fires when the unit is cool.

Step 5: Light It Up

Picture of Light It Up

Get out the graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey bars. It’s time to enjoy your fire pit.


boocat (author)2017-11-24

This is very clever. It looks great, too. Thanks for sharing.

blossomingpetunia. made it! (author)2017-11-05

Thanks for the idea! When we bought our house most of the trees had tree rings around them (which are terrible for trees). Also, much of our acre is covered with gravel, which I hate! The metal fire pit we already owned. We got it on clearance a few years ago for $20 at Target. I can’t wait to test it out.

KellyW142 (author)2017-09-26

I've looked everywhere I know to look for the tree rings and nobody is selling them. What the big box stores have done is realized people were building fire pits for $50 out of them, and now they are selling $250 fire pit kits. It makes me really angry they are taking advantage of this situation.

tjharner (author)2017-06-30

Fire brick should be used when constructing fire pits. Ordinary landscape pavers/tree rings etc can get so hot they explode. Be safe out there!

dewey302 (author)tjharner2017-06-30

True, fire brick would be a better option assuming the brick is in direct contact with the flame and/or coals. Here, the fire is contained in the inner metal liner, the Weber grill. There is a generous air space between the inner circle of brick and the liner and the outer circle of brick is further insulated with a 2" layer of stone. There is also venting space between the upper and lower circles of brick so cool air is drawn in and exits at the top. I have many times tested the temperature of the inner circle of tree rings and have never had a time I could not place my hands or feet on the brick due to heat.

kdavidson5 (author)2016-06-02

Lowes has something similar to this in the "Edging Stones" category.

stresuel (author)2016-05-01

I love this idea but am having trouble finding these bricks here in Canada as I've asked at Rona but not Home Depot yet. Any ideas where I can buy them,


WilliamM224 (author)stresuel2016-05-04

Good luck finding the tree rings, I had to give up the search. Decided on building my own with materials I could find

stresuel (author)WilliamM2242016-05-04

Thanks for replying. I'll keep looking as I might be lucky.

WilliamM224 (author)2016-05-04

Well, I was unable to find the tree rings. I went to or called every place within a 100 mile radius of where I lived here in WNY. This is what I can up with instead. I exchanged out the the 14" weber grill for a larger one, was just too small.

nfeliciano1 (author)2016-04-25

I live in northern new Jersey I can't seem to find those tree circles anywhere only small blocks to make up a circle not halves like used here. any guidance on where I can find them would be much appreciated

WilliamM224 (author)nfeliciano12016-04-25

I feel your pain, see my message from 3 days ago. So, I went to my local Home Depot over the weekend and asked about these. I was told that basically Home Depot has moved to selling DYI fire pit projects, as they are becoming more profitable. I asked if they could order the tree rings and have delivered to my store, and was told they can't get them. :-(

WilliamM224 (author)2016-04-22

Would love to make it, family all loves this on out of all the DYI fire pits, but can't find the tree rings anywhere. I live in Western New York. Any idea where I can get these tree rings? #frustrated

dewey302 (author)WilliamM2242016-04-22

This seems to be a regional problem. HD stores carry the rings in some regions, and in others they do not. Some Home Depots will order the rings for you (you can get the sku and item numbers off the HD web site) to be delivered to that store. This can often take a long time for delivery, however, since they only send them when they are shipping other items to that particular store. Wish I had a better alternative for you.

Firedawgtc (author)2015-11-16

wow I am going to do the same thing but I will try to make it a gas fire pit for those added no burn days to keep it clean.

Syma x5c (author)2015-11-16

Wow, nice!

Jedi_zombie85 (author)2015-11-16

such a simple idea its great

ccollins24 made it! (author)2015-07-30

Love this setup, mine is made from tree rings without the ripples, and I used a 22" grill.

dewey302 (author)ccollins242015-07-30

Nice looking.

Hlhall made it! (author)2015-04-10

I just finished mine. Very excited. I couldn't get the smaller tree ring so I figured something else out. Did u put sand in the bottom of the grill to keep it from melting?

dewey302 (author)Hlhall2015-04-10

I have not put sand in the bottom of the grill but I do leave in the smaller grill plate which keeps the wood/fire about an inch above the kettle itself. Once the fire gets going, however, the hot coals do fall down and sit on the bottom. But I haven't found that to be any sort of a problem in terms of melting or warping the kettle. BTW, your pit looks great with the modifications you had to make.

JulieS8 (author)dewey3022015-06-15

I couldn't find the small tree rings either so I used the same as you did only I arranged it a little different.

JulieS8 (author)2015-06-15

I couldn't find the smaller inner tree ring, so I improvised with the small circle edgers. (That's all I could find at Menards or Home Depot) I also used an ash pan/drip pan from an old smoker since I didn't have a Smoky Joe. It worked great. I also added colored glass marbles to give it a little extra sparkle. (not pictured.) Thanks for the great idea.

Caddisfly (author)2015-06-14

$64 bucks total! Thanks for the great idea. I couldn't find the inner rings so I went with a terracotta planter pot 17" across and 16" deep for the middle. Had to go one ring higher. Put 2" brink underneath the pot to raise it to the 18" ring height. No need for a weber. I like the looks of mine better, but would like to have a lid. Looks and works great! :-)

Niteskilz made it! (author)2015-06-05

Thanks for the idea, I literally spent 42$ for a last minute thing.. and voilà.. works great!

JamilynneXo (author)Niteskilz2015-06-08

What is in the middle? That doesnt look like a grill...

Jrt101 (author)2015-05-17

How tall are these? We can only find 6" tall ones. Not as easy as it seems.

buck2217 (author)Jrt1012015-05-25

wow That is fantastic looking, even better than the original, will have to try this way as can't get scalloped tree rings here, good work

dewey302 (author)Jrt1012015-05-19

The rings used in this instructable are 6" tall. So hopefully you have the right ones.

Dana MaeE (author)2015-05-22

We just finished ours yesterday. We also could not find the inner rings, so we decided to fully modify ours based on HlHall's modification. We used crescent bricks for the entire project. Buying an equal number of red and grey stones for a checker board look. We used 14 crescent bricks/layer (5 layers all in all) for the inner rings & 28 crescent bricks/layer for the outer rings which creates a 4 inch gap for the crushed stones. We decided to only make the outer ring four levels high to have a stepped look, but can be built to five layers for the flat look. Also with the five layers the pit sits higher than the original tree rings. Total for the build in cost was around 140$ including the grill, ( there are alot of cresent stones needed instead of a few tree rings), still not too bad on cost and still cheaper than buying a fire pit kit, and more original looking as well.

deborah.m.malone (author)2015-04-12

I can't seem to find the supplies? Can anyone help me

clsnx (author)2014-11-17

These tree rings are no longer available anywhere but Canada or California. I found 24" tee rings at Menards in Ohio, but they aren't curved enough to make a round circle. The 14" tree rings might still be available in California but no other state that I could find, so it is impossible to duplicate.

FrazyCucker (author)clsnx2015-03-31

jcrow3969 (author)clsnx2015-02-26

Available in Maryland.

jeanette.moore.526 (author)clsnx2015-01-04

They have these in our state, Fl. At every garden center or stone store here!

We have tons of these in Lowes all over eastern NC. I am sure other places have them too. For many stores they are seasonal, so they will probably start to come out in late March. Our store happens to sell them year round.

ksdulany (author)2013-07-02

I loved your idea and wanted to do something similar. Since I live in Spain, those tree rings are hard to come by and a bit expensive, however, terracotta planters are in abundance and relatively cheap. So, I took and modified your idea and I think it turned out really nice.

bciocco (author)ksdulany2014-11-22

I like this. It is very portable.

FrazyCucker (author)bciocco2015-03-31

Really? much do the cement tree rings weigh?

dewey302 (author)ksdulany2013-07-02

Just wondering if you intend to use a "fire pot", like the Weber grill, to slip into the inner planter? Also, let us know how it holds up to the heat of a fire. It will make for a nice alternative to the tree rings if the terracotta can take the heat. And you are right, it looks terrific.

Teracota will have no problem handling the heat. Keep in mind that it is used for chimneys all over the country.

It's not terracota, it's a cement tree ring.

astral_mage (author)dewey3022013-11-27

yes they can they are made from a type of ceramics

rita.deveny (author)ksdulany2015-03-28

Very nice! May I ask what size of planters you used here?

rylin.mariel (author)ksdulany2015-02-26

I really like your benches, too! :-)

thebeatonpath (author)ksdulany2014-11-18


MichaelKMoser (author)ksdulany2014-08-30

I like this even better because the
exterior is smoother. How does this hold up with the heat. It also
looks more portable. We have this custom one out in our woods

But these terracotta ones would look nice closer to our patio and would have less smoke as well.

mfeelinz (author)ksdulany2014-07-20


rhaubejoi (author)ksdulany2013-08-02

I think it would be worth it not to have the tree rings to be able to have terra cotta planters in abundance! How awesome for you! I think I like your fire ring better.

odellkevin (author)2015-01-28

It's not so much a "fire pit" as it is more of a "weber holder", but it is still really nice. Also, you can still put charcoal in it and use it as a regular BBQ grill. I recently bought a house and while clearing out brush/weeds around the back property, I found about 15 - 20 of these pieces that, I'm assuming, a previous owner threw out there because they didn't want them and they were too heavy for the trash. So, it looks like I'm going to be making one for free.

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