Want a great accent to your backyard, but tight on space? Try this DIY Fire Place/Pit Build that has a high back wall so that you can keep it tight to a side fence (not too tight though) or in a corner. It works best with semi-circle seating so that all your guests can feel the heat!
Step 1: Materials
Hopefully you have a truck like me, if not go rent one or use your phone a friend lifeline because it is way cheaper to go to your local garden centre and buy a half yard of Crusher Run (often called "crush"). You will only use a fraction of that 1/2 yard so make sure you have a place to store the rest. If you don't, simply ask the garden centre guys/gals to give you a 1/4 despite paying for a 1/2.
For the stones, hit up kijiji or ask around for anyone that is getting rid of stones. I was lucky and while building a deck for a friend, he wanted to get rid of all his patio stones instead of just leaving them under the deck....so I took them! Having these stones is what began this project in the first place, so if you do find yourself with a bunch of stones, this could be the project to put them to good use.
- tape measure
- edging shovel
- spade shovel
- hand tamp
- marking paint
Step 2: Mark and Dig
- Mark out where you want your fire place to go using your marking paint. I made mine 4ft x 4ft so that the stones I have fit as best as possible. A great idea would be to do some math with your stones before you mark out and see what dimensions work for what you got.
- Using your edging shovel, dig on the outside of your line (make your dig a bit bigger than your mark out to make the laying easier), trying to get about 4-5" below grade.
- Using your spade and edging shovels clean out all the dirt within the marked out area trying to make it as 'flat' as possible at about 4-5" below grade.
- Using your hand tamp, tamp the dirt down to give yourself a flat/level working surface. Rake the dirt out if it isn't quite level.
Step 3: Backfill and Level
- Get your spade shovel and backfill the newly dug area with your crush. You will want to rake it out trying to keep it as level as possible. Backfill about 1-2", rake out, then tamp it using your hand tamp. Go hard at it with that hand tamp! Great tricep workout.
- Repeat that step until you are about 1/2" below the grass grade.
- Using your levels, make sure that your outside is level on all four sides and on the diagonals. If it is not level, rake, fill, and tamp until it is.
Step 4: Build Bottom Row
- Grab your stones and begin laying your base row at one corner.
- Work out both directions from that corner. Until you get to the adjacent corners. Finish off the last side until the base row is complete. There is no need to use a tape measure to check for 'square' if your stones are all the same size. Ensure that the opposite sides have the same # of stones and that all the corners line up...you made the hole a bit bigger than you actually wanted back in step 1 so that this would be easier. Your pit doesn't have to be square to where you dug because you will be backfilling around where you dug.
- Make sure all four sides are level. If they are not, use your body weight (or a rubber mallet) to make the stones level...this first base row all around is THE MOST IMPORTANT! After all, a structure is only as good as it's foundation.
Step 5: Build Up
- Using the rest of your stones, build up! Be sure to overlap the bricks in a pattern so that the edges of each brick do not line up. This is especially important on the corners. I had to build then take apart and then build again to ensure I was making the least amount of edges align. Take your time and ensure you complete a whole row all the way around before moving to the next.
Step 6: Keep Building Up
Continue laying rows until you get your desired height/look. I would recommend creating some 'air flow' if possible on some of the lower rows to help with getting that much needed 'oxygen' to help fuel your fires. I made mine about half way up the back wall (tallest wall). I really like symmetry, so that was just my little touch in the design.
Once you have what you want, load up the pit and light it up!
As a last recommendation, I had some leftover concrete from a previous build, so I mixed a small amount and poured it inside the bottom. This is a great move because then you have a true 'base' after each fire and you don't continually dig more and more of your pit out when you are cleaning out the ashes...once you've hit the concrete, no more digging!