Staycation By The Campfire In Your Own Backyard

DIY Fire Pit 

Staycation by the campfire in your own backyard.

By Mark Wolfe

With so many folks staying at home, spending time around a backyard campfire is an excellent way to de-stress and reconnect. Who doesn’t love ending the day with s’mores, or a glass of wine, soaking in the evening glow around a cozy bonfire? A fire pit adds a whole new dimension to backyard living.

Building your own fire pit can be quick, inexpensive, and simple, or as elaborate as you’d like. Best of all, the story of building the fire pit becomes one of the stories you tell around the fire.

Choose a safe location for your fire pit.

It should be situated at least 10 feet from buildings, and property lines. It should be in an open space away from overhanging limbs and any other flammable surfaces that could catch fire.

A water outlet should be nearby, with a long enough hose to reach the fire. Be sure to check with your local Fire Marshal or other municipality officials and Homeowners’ Association to ensure that you are following all fire pit guidelines for your area.

A grassy area is fine for a fire pit location, but unlike sand and stone surfaces, seating has to be moved for mowing, and grass can be damaged. Sand makes a convenient fireproof ground cover, but it erodes easily. Also, sand allows vegetation to easily grow in. Gravel makes an excellent groundcover, but can be a danger for mowers if it is spread into adjacent grass.

Elaborate, and ultra-personalized, fire rings could be made from formed concrete, brick, or welded metal. You can also simply stack concrete retaining wall blocks from your local home improvement store to create a fire pit that matches your existing hardscaping.

In this example, the homeowner was removing a sandbox that their kids outgrew. They chose to repurpose the location, and the sand, to create an oasis that the family would enjoy in a whole new way. Repurposing the sand was a nice way to add continuity from the old childhood play space to the new outdoor family room.

The project began with demolition of the old sandbox frame. The sandbox liner had prevented weeds from growing through, but the new fire pit would cover a much larger area. So after scalping the grass, they spread a layer of weed blocking fabric to keep it from growing back. Then the whole area was covered with 6 inches of sand.

A double-layer rock ring, made with stone found on the property, formed the actual fire pit. The weed barrier was removed when the rock ring was placed. There was no need to create a firepit floor since placement is permanent.

Maintaining this space is simply a matter of blowing debris off the sand. Occasional raking and weed pulling will keep vegetation from encroaching. No hard edging was used to hold the sand in place. The next phase of the project will include perimeter and screen plantings to give the area a sense of seclusion.