Introduction: Beachy Low Maintenance Backyard Fire Pit Tutorial
Well with September fast approaching it dawned on me that it was either going to be now or next summer to show you guys all the work on the yard we did this spring so this is the beginning of several posts about our yard. Why haven’t I told you about our fire pit sooner? Well, here’s the thing about yards: they just never look nice enough! We won’t be fertilizing or spraying for weeds or anything like that around here – we live on a farm and I WILL NOT put chemicals on my yard nor will I kill a single dandelion intentionally. This yard is NEVER gonna look like we hired a landscaper and that’s just the way it is and I am totally happy with that. However, there were several serious dead spots I wanted to grow in and then we had three floods. (Seriously the storms we got hit by this summer was like nothing I’ve ever seen before in all my years living in northern MN) So, up until now, everything looked pretty rough and if it wasn’t for my husband our yard would probably never get mowed and this place would like the apocalypse happened which would also have been ok with me. Anyway, I may not be good at cutting the grass but I did want a decent fire pit to hang out at! Here’s the thing though, we had NO money to put in to a fire pit so that meant I had to get really creative! First thing I thought of first was function: I hated having to move all of our yard furniture every time we mowed so I wanted something our furniture could sit on. Second thing was safety, I wanted a fire pit we didn’t have to worry about still smoldering a little bit when we went to bed. Also, I didn’t want a fire pit that (if not used) would fill full of grass and weeds. Everything pointed to the fact that my dad had a leftover pile of beach sand on his property that he wanted us to get rid of for him. Well, that basically did it: we were gonna make ourselves a beach and it was going to be a totally awesome totally free backyard transformation!
(A note here: I say “FREE” but this project was a HUGE amount of manual time and labor!)
We started by sticking a stake in the middle of our current “fire pit”, tying a rope to it and going in a big circle around the whole pit with a can of spray paint. We measured the paths using the “width” of the landscape fabric we had on hand. (Another leftover we found in the barn.) And decided to do a path from our driveway (along the side of the house/our little garden) to converge with the path at our deck and then go on to the fire pit. And then, we started removing/digging out the sod and we did that through two days and countless blisters…
Step 1: Landscapers Fabric Down and Now Add Sand
With the sod removed we laid down the landscapers fabric. We happened to have a neighbor with a tractor who watched us in all of our digging and asked if we wanted him to bring the sand over for us. I almost kissed the man. After so much digging the idea of manually loading up the sand in the back of Joe’s truck and then manually unloading it was one of the worst things I could think of – though I was totally resigned to it. So, with all of the sand brought over we just had to spread it around over the fabric and we were done!
I vastly under estimated the manual labor that this took out of us when we started. With my golf course managerial past I was used to soft soil, this stuff was older then I am. Just getting the sod cut in manageable pieces was a struggle and then trying to separate it from the dirt beneath it was much more difficult then I had ever anticipated. Also a huge part of the labor was hauling all of the sod away, we shook it out of dirt as much as possible and used the excess dirt to even out the yard around the pit. (After the renovation our yard was full of holes and bare patches from trucks etc. literally an ankle breaking situation) We also seeded everything once the sand was spread out and proceeded to water it whenever it looked like it needed it all spring. And that’s it!
Step 2: Finished and Low Maintenance
There are some real cool things about this fire pit that I absolutely love. When Joe mows he goes right over the sand paths and the sand doesn’t move at all – we don’t have to move a single thing! It is incredibly low maintenance, I’ve had to do only about ten minutes of weeding combined all summer long (the grass doesn’t get in through the weed fabric no, it crawls in from the outside under the sand and really annoys me but its very easy to remove.) I love taking my shoes off and settling in by the fire, it really does feel like we’re on a beach! We have to walk across our entire deck (and up a flight of stairs) before getting to the house so we haven’t had any problems tracking in sand at all.
I would imagine that this would also be fun for folks with little kids as it would also double as a sand box! We don’t have kids so I imagine myself on a beach with a bottle of wine whenever we have a fire out here! Drawbacks? After enjoying this fire pit all summer I really can’t say I have any though this summer we were slammed by the worst thunderstorms I’ve ever seen in this part of the country in my entire life. At one point we got over 13 inches of rain in just a few days and were only missed by 80 mile an hour straight line winds by mere miles more than once! Normally, we don’t get a lot of rain in the summer so our fire pit flooded several times. What does that mean? It means a bunch of sand washed into the pit essentially filling our fire hole up lol so, several times, we had to go out there and dig the hole again which really isn’t big deal. However, it has had Joe mention that at some point he wants to put stone around the pit itself and I can’t say as I blame him. So, that may happen some day but, for now, we love our beachy fire pit! And, the cost is only that of getting a load of sand and buying a road of landscaping fabric!
Like my sun loungers? I made them out of old goose hunting chairs and outdoor table cloths, there's a post here on Instructables all about them or on my blog!