DIY Fire Pit and Seating Area




Eight years ago, my wife and I bought this house, due in part to the very large backyard - roughly .5 acre. For eight years we had never done anything meaningful with it. Until now. I'd like to add that I did this project entirely by myself and that before we began this project, I had absolutely zero experience with construction, landscaping, or home improvement projects. So with that in mind, I fully admit I probably made several mistakes that may be glaring to some.

With that being said, please see our brand new fire pit and seating area:

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Step 1: Gather Fire Pit Materials

For this fire pit I used the RumbleStone pavers from Home Depot. I decided to make it 4 courses high. For each course I used 12 Traps and 12 Minis for a total of 48 trapezoid blocks and 48 mini blocks.

In addition to the stones, I also purchased landscape adhesive to lock the stone layers together, a caulk gun, marking paint, and gravel and sand for drainage inside the pit.

Step 2: Determine Location

I picked a location that was a pretty good distance away from the house. I think 10 feet is the minimum recommended distance, but I went with about 80 feet as I wanted to attach a quasi-winding pathway to the fire pit from our existing patio.

Step 3: Arrange Layer of Stones and Outline Fire Pit Footprint

So this is probably the first error I made. I didn't want to spray paint on the stones, so I lined them up where I wanted, and etched around the perimeter of the stones with a shovel. In hindsight, this layer is almost completely in-ground, so a little spray paint on them would not have hurt, and I think outlining with spray paint would've been less intensive and produced the same desired results. And also, I ended up painting around the outline anyway once the stones were removed.

Step 4: Outline Seating Area

Again, I'm not a construction-minded individual, so I did the best I could here. I staked a post in the center of the fire pit ring. Then I unrolled some garden twine and attached one end to the stake. I ran the string out to 12 feet* and attached the other end to an eye bolt** I had lying around. I then pulled the twine taut and took a spray can of marking paint and sprayed as I walked with the twine held as close to the ground as possible.

*There was no rhyme or reason to the 12 feet figure. Truth be told, the small tape measure I was using only went to 12 feet, so that's where I stopped. As it turned out I think the 24 foot diameter was a perfect size.

**An eye bolt was totally not necessary. This could have easily been a pencil, a stick, another person...really could've been nothing at all probably.

Step 5: Dig Out the Outlined Area for the Firepit

I wasn't really sure about this part, but I knew I needed some way for the pit to drain after rain.

So I ended up digging around a foot and a half deep. It doesn't have to be perfect by any means, but I made sure the sides were fairly straight.

Step 6: Fill the Hole

Fill the hole with a layer of gravel on the very bottom then fill the rest of the way with sand, leaving about 2 or 3 inches or so between the sand and the top of the hole. Then I just packed the sand down and leveled it out with a 2X4.

Step 7: Lay the First Course of Stones

Now that the sand is level and packed, lay the first course of stones,alternating trap, min,trap, mini, etc. and checking for level often.

This was the most time-consuming part yet. It wasn't hard to get the stones set necessarily, but ensuring that each stone was level was much more difficult and aggravating than I could've expected.

After the stones were finally set and level, I added one more bag of sand over the course of stones, then using a shop broom pushed the sand in between the stones. I'm honestly not really sure if this part was needed, but it seemed like a good idea, and I had one bag left, so in it went. Also, it's really important to brush the stones with the broom to ensure that there's no sand on them for the next step.

Step 8: Lay the Remaining Courses

This was the easiest part of the entire process I'd say.

It's also the most fun, since this is when you start seeing all the hard work taking shape.

To get started on this step, apply a bead of landscape adhesive in a zigzag form where you plan to lay the next stone of the next course. Make sure to stagger the stones over the previous layer (you can see what I mean in the photo for this step). In the second layer (first layer of this step), I intentionally left a gap between two of the blocks to allow for oxygen flow. Keep going until you're done with all four courses of stone, and Boom! Fire pit!

Step 9: Gather Supplies for Seating Area

Now that you've got a fire pit, you need a space for everyone to sit. So gather 80 feet of landscape edging for the seating area (plus what you need for a walkway) enough landscape fabric to cover about 500 square feet for the seating area (plus what you need to cover the area of your walkway), plenty of landscape fabric pins and some grass/weed killer.

Step 10: Outline Seating Area With Edging and Apply Fabric

Outline the seating area with the landscape edging, leaving an opening for your walkway. I didn't bother to paint the boundaries for the walkway area, I just bought extra landscape edging and used a 4 foot 2x4 to space the edging out along the walkway and formed it to the curved shape that my better half requested.

Once everything is outlined with edging, spray the area with weed/grass killer. I waited about 24 hours until it was all dry and then rolled out and staked down the landscape fabric.

Note: You'll notice in the photos that I didn't have the walkway in when I started laying the fabric. It would've been better to get it all done at the same time,but I ran out of edging, so I decided to finish what I could before going back to Lowe's.

Step 11: Have Gravel Delivered

We went with crushed limestone. It's a little more expensive than pea gravel, but I think it looks better.

We got 7.5 tons and it was $535 delivered.

Note: You see the pathway there with the weed/grass killer in full effect. I put down landscape fabric along the pathway right after this photo was taken.

Step 12: Spread the Gravel Out Evenly

Nope. Never again. This was the single most meticulous, tedious, maddening and back-breaking thing I have done in years.Basically move rocks around in piles and then take a steel rake and rake them until they're as smooth as possible. I hauled rocks to and fro for the better part of 2 days. It seemed like I would never get to the bottom of that pile of rocks. But when I finally did...

Step 13: Done!

Man this felt good.

Step 14: Then We Added Seating...

We sanded, painted, assembled and sealed 4 Adirondack chairs for seating. It really added to the atmosphere.

Step 15: And Finally, We Added Lighting

This is a step I found on another website, so I won't go through the directions here, but I added light posts with hooks for some wireless speakers which you can see hanging on the two far posts. Added some solar pathway lighting and some citronella torches since mosquitoes are so bad here in the deep South. It really is amazingly relaxing out there now! Quite a transformation from just 2 moths ago.

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    26 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I grew up in a landscaping family and am currently a carpenter. I think you did a fantastic job not only of final product but also your instructable. What a nice little get away. Love the lighting. Nice touch!!!! Great job!!!!


    2 years ago

    We have property and have been thinking about getting our fire pit put in. Don't you think that moving 7.5 ton of gravel is a lesson in futility? We did it years ago to make a pad for our garden shed - it was 95 degrees and painfully humid that day so I feel your pain. At any rate you did an outstanding job here and I will use some of your tips and tricks for my project this Fall. I love your light posts, the whiskey barrels look great and do not look tippy (like my 5 gal buckets are). I like the winding pathway too, people need to take their time and enjoy the trip as much as the destination and it just looks better than a straight line. Good job!


    4 years ago

    Hello, I love the look of this outdoor space. I'm wondering if you can direct us to the website for making the light posts? Are they held up by concrete? Thanks. -Josie in California


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I really like the pit, but I was thinking it might be a good idea to remove some of the small stones in the bottom ring for oxygen. It depends on how good the fire burns like this, but it might be something to consider.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I like this very, very much, Bagarrett. Fine idea; great implementation and some good work-saving tips.

    If I ever have the notion to do a similar thing I believe I would avoid the curly-wurly pathway though. Over many years I have found that people tend to make much straighter desire lines across turf towards an objective, despite what a pathway offers. It seems to be a thing.

    Thank you for this excellent "instructable".


    4 years ago on Step 15

    Congrats on your great work. Nice place to kick back and enjoy company. The lighting was a sweet touch. Anthony is right, unfortunately, but you can probably
    save all your hard work by dropping in a steel campfire ring for a couple hundred
    bucks.(Why stop spending now?) Oh, and what’s the big idea of posting a
    final pic that does NOT feature a raging fire??? Come on, man….


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I like the Google colored chairs. 'C) I used decomposed granite for my seating area, and after it's roller tamped down well, it stays put, even if it rains. I don't think the pavers would explode with heat from the fire, as that's similar to the stones we have for campfires at the camping sites around here. You can also add some more side stones, and make an across-fire grill if you wish!


    4 years ago on Step 15

    Using standard pavers for the fire pit will mean it won't be long before these crack. Also, the construction adhesive will be pretty much useless after a few fires. I appreciate all the effort you've done and it looks great but there is a right way and a wrong way.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Someone should definitely alert the manufacturer to the “right way” then. As the
    construction directions came directly from them.


    4 years ago on Step 9

    wouldnt you use fire stones? those will crack and possible explode if they have water in them.


    4 years ago on Step 15

    I love this project! I hope you all enjoy many nights out there!

    Thanks! It really wasn't hard in hindsight. I mean it was intensive labor, and mostly during the heat and humidity of the Summer that made it worse. But now that I know what I'm doing, if I ever do this again, I'll have a team of friends and knock this out in a weekend.

    And in November instead of July!
    I'm in Kentucky and all my digging and raking projects are on hiatus from June 15th until after deer season. It's been horrible here lately, like dangerously hot for middle aged fat guys to be slinging stone.

    This couldn't have come at a better time. My husband & I have been talking about this for days to put it to put the awesome chairs he makes around for a nice sitting/display area. Thanks!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Great job! Would you mind sharing the site where you got the idea for the lighting? We have a great fire pit and would like to look at adding some lighting similar to yours.

    2 replies