My wife and I decided to convert an area on the back yard as a safe place to put
a fire pit. We want to enjoy relaxing time watching the fire and roast marshmallows for the little ones.
For the project we budgeted $500.
We got our inspiration and ideas by searching online, watching youtube videos, visiting home improvement stores and visiting a local stone and gravel supplier.
Experience level: medium, as you need to perform labor intensive work and take measurements to calculate how much stones and gravel you need.
Time to complete the project: 4 days but we only worked on the project about 4 to 5 hours each day. Additionally time is required to research and select building materials.
Actual Cost: $505.78
Step 1: List of Materials
Step 2: Tools and Equipment
- Metal rake
- A piece of wood 2x4 about 2 feet long
- Tape measure
- Posts and string to mark the area
- Rubber mallet
Step 3: Area Selection and Marking
1. Start off by selecting an area that you plan to convert for the fire pit project.
A word of caution, make sure you keep a safe distance from your home and away from trees or other places that may catch on fire.
Since we purchased the fire pit in preparation for the project we were able to place it on the designated location. We also used some logs as seats just to get a rough idea of placement and space.
Step 4: Area Layout, Perimeter Measurement and Area Calculation
2. Layout the perimeter or outline of the area by using the posts and strings. At this point you also want to measure the perimeter and calculate the area.
I used the SketchUp application to create a rendering of the patio project. This is not necessary but it is helpful to visualize the project and give some rough idea of how much material (pavers and stone) you needed. The application has some area calculation feature but you have to be very precise with the measurements.
The total perimeter is obtained by measuring the length of the string. This is going to be handy to determine how many pavers you need. Here is the math to determine how many pavers to buy:
Perimeter/Paver length = Total Number of pavers
Perimeter = 60 feet or 720 inch
720 inch / 9.4 inch, length of paver = 76.5 but I decided to buy 75 pavers
Now to calculate the total area, Length x Width
I divided the area into three sections, only large square and two triangles of the same size that add up to another square area. I used these values:
10 feet x 14 feet = 140 sq. feet
10 feet x 10 feet = 10 sq. feet
for a total of 240 sq. feet
Then accounting for about 2 inch depth and converting it to feet = 0.167 feet
So the total cubic area is: 240 sq. feet x 0.167 feet = 40 cu. feet
Note, the stone is sold in cu. yards so more math. 40 cu. feet/27 = 1.48 cu. yards
I decided to order 2 cu. yard of ¾ round brown stone @ $49 per cu. yard plus $35 delivery fee.
The ¾ stone is large enough that if it is kicked it won’t end up over the lawn.
We ended up buying all the materials from a local stone and gravel supplier and home improvement store.
Step 5: Remove Sod and Level Area
3. Remove sod or just about 2 inches deep from surface. There are fancy equipment and techniques to remove sod. We just used a simple method, a shovel and dig out small squares at a time. This is labor intensive so pace yourself. Removing the sod took the most time because we had to make small piles and wheel them out to the back of the property. You may want to divide the area in 3 like we did and work on one section at a time.
4. Then we used the metal rake, the 2x4, level and tamper to level the area. Remove any large stones and maintain the 2 inch depth. We had to wait a few days to rest and buy materials; during that period it rained a couple of days so the rain helped compacting the ground.
When we finished the kids were ready to roast marshmallows and we decided to give it a go!
Step 6: Placement of Materials
5. Once the area was prepared and we got all the materials in, we placed the landscape fabric and secured the fabric with pins. This prevents weed growth.
6. Next step was to lay down the pavers, if your area is level enough the pavers would lay flat on the ground. Use the rubber mallet to level the pavers and avoid steps between pavers. We used 12 pavers for the front side, 12 pavers for left and right sides plus 39 pavers for the back side. There is a bit of space between pavers as we made the arc. You can fill those voids with sand or small stones to prevent movement.
7. After placing all the pavers, they need to be secured with a paver edge and spikes. Each paver edge was about 9 feet long and the spikes can be placed 2 to 3 feet apart.
8. Now, it is time to fill the area with the ¾ inch round brown stone. All you need to do is dump the stone over. The delivery guy left all the stone on the driveway and we had to use the wheelbarrow to move the stone one dump load at a time. This is also very labor intensive and it takes a while to move all the stones; for us was about 30 trips back and forth and a lot of shoveling to clear all the stones from the driveway.
Step 7: Finish the Project!
9. Then use the 2x4 to spread the stones evenly.
10. To finish up the project, use a water hose and wash the stone to bring the natural colors out. Then, put your own finishing touches. For us we put a couple of Adirondack chairs and wood logs. The kids love the fire pit and enjoy the marshmallow.