A fire in the backyard can add ambiance to a great evening of entertainment, but many community’s local governments do not allow open fires on the ground in residential areas. The best way around this is to build a permanent fire pit. Fire pits are designed to burn above the ground in a steel basin making your recreational fire a much safer activity.
There are many different styles of fire pits and outdoor fireplaces. They can be made of expensive and gorgeous mason work, or as simple as a steel basin. If you would like a safe and permanent structure, but don’t want to spend a fortune, you can build a stone fire pit that is safe and attractive for less than $300.
Go to your local garden store, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot and find a keystone shaped block such as the OldCastle landscaping blocks carried by Lowes. The keystone shape will allow the blocks to sit side by side and form a circle. You need to find a block that will allow you to make a circle no more than about 30 inches across. Using the example of the OldCastle landscaping blocks, placing 17 blocks together will form a circle roughly this size.
Pick the spot in your yard where you would like to build your fire pit. Start laying your blocks in this area to form the base of the fire pit, butting each keystone up to the side of the last. Once you have the circle created and tight, start a second layer by setting a fresh block on top the first circle being sure to split it across two blocks on the previous layer. Staggering the layers this way will ensure stability and allow your fire pit to stand strong without the use of mortar. These blocks are designed to be stack and go. A major benefit of this is that if decide at some point that you would like to relocate your fire pit it can be done quickly and easily without destroying the blocks and having to buy more.
You’ll need to decide how high you want your fire pit to be, but remember not to make it too tall as this will make it unstable. Also, the higher your fire is off the ground, the less heat you will feel radiating off of it as you gather around it. Using the example of the OldCastle landscaping blocks, four layers of 17 blocks creates a fire pit structure just about the perfect height to double as a footrest when sitting in an average sized patio chair. That is a total of 68 blocks. This is an ideal height for optimal warmth and safety with your fire pit.
Once your fire pit is assembled, purchase a 35 inch round fire pit basin from your local garden store. Most all of these come with a stand, however, you will not need it when using the basin with your fire pit. Simply place the fire basin onto the top of your circular block fire pit structure and center it. You are now ready to place the grate in the basin and start piling on the firewood. You have built a safe, solid fire pit that is in compliance with local ordinances.
If you want to save more money, there are many ways to get free firewood instead of buying the over-priced bundles at your local gas stations and grocery stores. For more information on how to get free firewood, click here.
Open fire regulations are different in every community. Check with your local government and zoning committee before building your fire pit. Remember to always burn responsibly. Never burn yard waste in your fire pit and never use your fire pit when your local government has placed a burn ban in effect. These are usually due to extreme dryness and drought or other environmental hazards.