# \$50 fire pit using concrete tree rings.

We recently moved from the remote north-woods of  Wisconsin where large lakeside fire pits were simply dug into the ground and lined with large rocks creating great campfires.  We now live in a residential neighborhood in  the Central Valley of CA.    Campfires here are confined to  well defined containment systems and  small controlled fires which can be easily extinguished with no sparks or embers that can continue to burn or blow into neighboring combustibles when the fire is left unattended.

Even with these restrictions, our family still loves to sit around an evening fire.   But we didn’t want to spend a small fortune on a pre-manufactured 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 isles of Home Depot recently, we saw concrete tree rings on sale for \$2 a section.   We borrowed a tape measure and quickly determined 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.

Materials:

Weber Smokey Joe Portable charcoal grill or equivalent 14" diameter grill. (\$30 new)

4 sections of 14" inside diameter concrete tree ring (\$2 to \$3 each = \$8 to \$12 total)

6 sections of 24" inside diameter concrete tree ring (\$2 to \$3 each = \$12 to \$18 total)

2 cubic feet of small stones, pebbles, road gravel or decorative rock (\$0 to \$20 depending on how fancy)

Total cost \$50 to \$80 depending on your taste in stones.

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## Step 1: Step 1 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: Step 2 - 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: Step 3 - 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: Step 4 - 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: Step 5 - Light it up.

Get out the graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey bars.   It’s time to enjoy your fire pit.
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klw2992 days ago

The tree rings used in these pictures are HUGE!?!? Where do you find them? Share a link - or be very specific about the dimensions of the tree rings.

dewey302 (author)  klw2992 days ago
I think you will find everything you are looking for in the original post and comments. As noted in paragraph 3 of the introduction, the source of the rings was Home Depot.

As noted in the materials list the smaller inside ring has a 14" inside diameter and the larger outside ring has a 24" inside diameter. They are identified this way at the store. Step 2 notes that each ring section if 2" thick thus making the completed outside diameter of the pit 28"

When reading the other comments you will also find that the rings are pretty scarce in some parts of the country while readily available in others (at Home Depot, Lowes, or other gardening or big box stores). Commentators have also offered up a variety of optional ways to build tree rings or use alternative materials for building a similar pit.

I just finished building this in our backyard! Only thing I did different was mortar the tree rings together (at the request of my mother who worries WAY too much!). But it still looks great and we can't wait to use it this weekend!

17 days ago

The downside to mortaring your rings together is that you cut-off the air flow to the bottom of the fire pit. This may make it harder to get your fire going. If you end up having issues getting/keeping your fire going, you may want to get a masonry drill bit and drill holes through the mortar.

6 months ago

Thats amazing. I cant find these in tree rings in the uk :( sadness

DyaniB23 days ago

I just love this.

For tree rings.....try thehomedepot.com

23 days ago
These are available at Lowe's like the previous post but they are seasonal. Check in the spring and summer.
ksdulany1 year ago
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.
24 days ago

I like this. It is very portable.

28 days ago

Brilliant!

3 months ago

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

http://www.thefirepitstore.com/fire-pit-art-asia-3...

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

4 months ago
awesome
dewey302 (author)  ksdulany1 year ago
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.
1 year ago
yes they can they are made from a type of ceramics
1 year ago
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.
clsnx29 days ago
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.
25 days ago

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.

I wonder if The Home Depot would deliver tree rings to other states besides Utah? I live in Utah. Tree rings are easily found here. But try thehomedepot.com

thebeatonpath28 days ago

I remember when this first came out! Commented and loved it. Never could find the tree rings and I asked EVERYONE. Landscapers, Home Depot, Lowes, you name it. Did end up buying similar curved pavers that were clearanced at Home Depot several towns over. Drove there and had to purchase ALL of them because they were clearance (I think they made that up, but I was desperate). Hauled them all home and have not finished my pit yet! I'm glad this was featured again. Nice reminder that I have a huge empty hole in my backyard (I plan on doing an in ground pit this time around) that needs finishing. ; ) I may have to wait for a spring thaw though.

Overkill21328 days ago

Not sure about California but last two Walmart's I worked at in Arizona and Florida we sold them in Garden. Also saw them at home Depot. Paver's at stores at stores like Walmart are Seasonal but if you check soon before winter a lot of them are left. We usually start carrying them in the spring.

DukeL28 days ago

nope, not impossible-- a handy man can make his own tree rings and here's how to do it:

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Concre...

spark master28 days ago

brilliant

Krylon has a paint that you use on grills. It helps protect from heat. I bet if you spray it on the inner rings it'll help protect the life of the stone.
prepperfarm1 month ago

I think I could actually afford this fire pit. I've been pricing the official fire pits, and they run several hundred dollars. Also, I don't have a vehicle sturdy enough to move all the materials for an entire fire pit in one go. Creating one from these parts solves the problem. I cold buy the parts in multiple trips, without killing my car.

Valster4 months ago

Love it!

BTW, you're featured on Mother Earth News today (7/23/14). Congrats!

Completed mine today. Couldn't find the 14" rings so I substituted " breeze" or crushed flagstone for the entire inner ring. I also added a ring of pebbles to prevent embers from burning the grass. Thanks for the idea; can't wait for Fall to try it out.

Is there a reason that a weber grill is required? Could you fill up the inner circle about halfway with stones and just build your fire directly on that?

dewey302 (author)  buildandsewandstuff5 months ago

My only reservation with not using the Weber insert is that concrete doesn't particularly like high heat. It expands and contracts which eventually leads to cracking. So I recommend the fire be kept away from direct contact with the tree rings. As an inexpensive alternative, you might be able to make the inner circle out of heavy gauge sheet metal (think very large diameter stove pipe) instead of the inner tree ring. Put your stones between the sheet metal and the outer tree ring to insulate that outer concrete and then, as you suggest, fill the bottom about half way or so with stones. Might make for a nice little fire pit.

bullseye7595 months ago

Hi-I'd really like to make this but I can't find anyone who sells the concrete tree rings. Any suggestions or alternatives?

Thank you

Dean

ahyman18 months ago

Man, I looked all over Austin, TX for these tree rings! No luck so far.

bajablue1 year ago
love, Love, LOVE this, Pen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
tinpusher1 year ago
Beautiful, I love it. This is going straight on my favorites so I can do it if I ever get out of this apartment.
1 year ago
if u have an fire escape u could do a smaller one with. clay pots . max would be 9 in. across tho.
Dark Solar1 year ago
love it, want to build it. having trouble sourcing tree ring parts; searches continue to yield wussy little 3-tooth radius segments :( recommendations?
1 year ago
soo u make yr own forms. then use concrete. bingo never ending supply.
dewey302 (author)  Dark Solar1 year ago
It seems a couple other folks who replied are having the same problem. Apparently Home Depot (and possibly other lawn/garden stores) stock these tree rings on a regional or local basis...not all stores stock the same items. However, I believe you can order the rings either at the store or on-line for in-store delivery (you don't pay shipping that way). The SKU# for the 24" edging is 630756. The Home Depot web site also shows what they call the 1 1/2 foot version of the edging which I believe is the the 14" size. Unfortunately they don't provide the measurements in the product specs so I can't be certain, but if the "foot and a half" (18") is the outside diameter for the ring, then the inside diameter will be 14"...which is the size you need. The SKU# for the 18" ring is 630748. Hope that helps.

I've also found two manufacturers for the rings. Mission concrete products which supplies Orchard Supply and . Basalite which supplies Home Depot among others.
If you have an Orchard Supply. They both have web sites you can google.
dewey302 (author)  dewey3021 year ago
Another option is to consider making your own tree rings. Here is an instructable that might give you some ideas how to do it. http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Concrete-Tree-Rings/
mharper81 year ago
So any suggestions for how best to construct this on a brick patio? Our yard is not conducive to open flame elsewhere (think low hanging pine and palms). Thanks!
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