Why not taking your home a bit beyond comfortable, by ensuring a backyard just as good as the indoor area?
A smart course of action is building a fire pit where you will roast marshmallows with friends and family, or simply warm up between seasons.
Besides, the cozy and romantic ambiance of outdoor fire pit designs is simply unsurpassed.
Fire pit ideas are a hot and trendy concept which deserves to be considered, as more and more people seem to be rediscovering the homey magic of ultra-retro pits built in their stone walls.
Wouldn’t you like to nibble s’mores lounged in a comfy Adirondack chair, or take an afternoon nap with style? Fire pit designs don’t require that much time or efforts – most probably, your personal fire ring will be ready in less than a week.
When it comes to backyard fire pit ideas, the choice of styles and appearances is just endless, but the basic options you have are wood and gas pits.
Wood pits, to begin with, are easier to build but more cumbersome to maintain, regardless of which many people choose them to be their camp-like hubs for evening parties.
At the end of the day, who would mind few sparks flying up freely, and a sweet crackling sound mixed with guitar chords?
Functionality fans who wish to remain in control should nevertheless look at the other option, namely a gas pit that can be shut down with a single switch, and placed easily wherever they want it to be.
How to build a fire pit
Image source: Sun Valley Landscaping
Relaxing around a fire pit in cooler evening is a priceless experience that can easily transform your patio in a lovely gathering haven.
People perceive it is an entertaining area, but the truth is a fire pit can be much more than that: you can actually eat, chat, and spend pleasant moments with your family whenever you want to.
You can have yours poured or use this guide to learn how to build a stone fire pit.
Plus, we have prepared some cool tips on how to build a brick fire pit, alongside our handy DIY ideas on how to arrange fire pit seating.
The basic step is to list the materials you will need, and to give you complete instructions on how to actually enjoy this process.
Materials and tools
- Cap stones
- Cast concrete wall stones
- Measuring tapes
- Steel rakes
Decide where it is going to be, and mark the place
Image source: Rick O’Donnell Architect
Outline the pit using stones, or place a simple metal ring that will define the bottom line.
You can even mark the outer line with spray paint when removing the extra stones and your circle will be complete.
Dig the hole
Image source: K&D Landscape Management
Ideally, make the hole a couple of feet wider than the fire pit (most fire pit designs are 7 feet wide), and use a stake hammered in the centre to make it just as round as you need it.
Mark the circle using 3 ½-inch strings looped over the stake, and dig out approximately 12 inches of the soil inside.
Once you’ve emptied the hole, shovel inch sand and gravel (4 inches each), and tamp them carefully into a flat layer.
That will be the base where you ought to lay the blocks and level the course evenly, after which you have to fill the remaining area with gravel.
Any exception in this process may lead to a weaker and damage-prone stone base.
Prepare the level trench for your blocks
Image source: Erin Lang Norris
The next step to build a fire pit is to dig a trench within the circle, ideally one with straight sizes, with width adjusted to the one of the blocks.
The depth should be 12 inches, 6 of which should be dug inside the area encircled by that trench. For best results, do this using a spade.
Next, lay blocks on the trench ring to see whether they all fit, and in case that doesn’t happen, remove few pieces. Optionally, you can widen the trench with some more digging.
Surround it with an outer wall
Image source: Hsu McCullough
The foundation is only the first part of the task – the next and most important thing that must be done is laying the stones. Shovel a couple of inches of the mixed mortar on the concrete base, and do so slowly, covering section by section.
If the stones you’re using are natural, make it more interesting by playing with sizes and colors, making sure that the most attractive and matching surfaces will be visible on the outline.
The most creative homeowners could even consider reshaping their stones with a hammer.
As you can guess, the stones form only the outer wall of your fire pit structure – once they are laid down, you have to create an equal inner layer using bricks.
Assemble the pieces
Image source: Ellis Construction Co., Inc.
Obviously, you have to make sure the two walls will function well together, in particular the pieces they’re built from. We recommend you to take a caulking gun, and squeeze lasting masonry adhesive between blocks to keep them together.
While doing it, make sure you’ve covered the interlocking parts appropriately, and repeat the process for as many courses as you want to have.
Image source: Olive E + O
The fire pit should be filled with gravel, in the best scenario with 6 inches of it to support the two initial courses you’ve set up. The next courses should be laid in the same way, glued carefully, and with the joints staggered.
Put the campfire ring inside the circle, making sure it sits well with the top of the all. If there is any space remaining between the wall and the block, fill it with gravel.
Note that masonry adhesive dries just as fast as it sets up, so don’t waste time, and fill small portion at a time.
Image source: Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association
All guides on how to make a fire pit also recommend setting steel rings under the final stone course, in particular for those homeowners looking to build a bigger one.
Original fire pits had seven layers, each of them with 14 stones, and an overall height of 25 inches. Nevertheless, removing one or more of these won’t affect the way fire burns inside.
Image source: Space Landscape Designs
In order to perfect your cool fire pit ideas, tamp the stones you’ve laid around the grave circle with a rubber mallet.
In case the ring is metal, the one in the middle can remain uncovered to make sure stones are properly placed against the ring.
The next rows of stones should be staggered with masonry adhesive (remember to put the middle of each stone on the end seams of stones beneath them).
Image source: roth sheppard architects
When using the fire pit for the first time, start with smaller amounts of dry leaves or old newspapers, and make sure they are piled up together.
Once fire starts burning, add tinier branches and smaller logs, so that you can secure enough flame for a bigger piece to be caught on.
Outdoor fire pit ideas
Cozy and affordable fire pits
Image source: Ward-Young Architecture & Planning – Truckee, CA
Once you come across backyard fire pits ideas, and take a look on some lovely photos, you may think it requires a serious investment to have one.
This is not necessarily true: many cute and simple fire pits can be purchased in big box stores and home improvement centers on a fraction of the price.
Going to these stores will also give you ideas on how to arrange fire pit seating, and you may end up equipping your entire yard without breaking the bank.
Image source: Rugo/ Raff Ltd. Architects
Some people prefer to set their fire pits in secluded areas, with privacy walls and whether resistant furniture to make them a prime real estate for relaxing in cool evenings.
A separate room with a fire pit
Your fire pit will soon become your guests’ favorite entertaining area, so why not devoting it some separate space?
If nothing else, it will highlight your hospitality and maintain the intimacy between you and your family.
You can consider comfy seating with large cushions and an additional basket with blankets and pillows to warm guests when they’re still cold.
The rule is to make the place as comfortable as possible.
Rustic and small fire pits
Image source: Michael Prokopchak, ASLA
For a rustic vibe, embed the fire pit right into the stone patio, and circle it with few wooden chairs.
Limestone fire pits
Image source: INSTALL-IT-DIRECT
A more elegant solution is to veneer the interiors of your fire pit in bricks with bricks, and to finish it with 4-piece thermal bluestone coping.
Drop-down deck fireplaces
Image source: Blue Ridge Landscaping
The classic solution for a backyard fireplace is to set it into the ground, because this approach makes it easier to control the flame and to keep people around it safe.
The interesting side of the process, however, is that some homeowners went as far as setting the entire seating area into the ground, allowing enjoyers to lounge back by the fire, and tuck their feet under the fire table.
The concept is widely applied in hotels, but you can also scale it down to fit your home in case you have enough space to do it.
Marble fire pit
Image source: Archiverde Landscape Architecture
Marble fire pits are elegant and suited for year-round lounging, and you can improvise an entire outdoor living room around them.
Indoor-outdoor fire tables
Image source: David J. Wade Inc, Architect
This idea requires a specific type of patio, such as the one in the middle of large U-shaped homes.
Creative people, nevertheless, can replicate the idea with art walls and herb gardens, and surround their pit with neutral cushions to let people dedicate it the attention it deserves.
Fire pits in cozy circles
Image source: Ginkgo Leaf Studio
A good way to add some extra coziness to your fire pit and to transform it in the focal point of your backyard is to arrange seating in a rounded way as well.
Look at your garden and the nature surrounding the pit, and you will get inspired to choose the best colors for your fire pit pillows.
DIY solutions with concrete tree rings
Image source: Linda McCalla Interiors
This is one of the handiest fire pit solutions to have up the sleeve, so that you would confine the construction to a proof containment system, and control the fire to leave minimal sparks and embers behind.
Traditional garden fire pits
Image source: Pacifica Landscape Works Inc.
Everyone dreams of building a unique fire pit people would envy him about, but the backyard conditions won’t always allow brave experiments.
More often than rare, homeowners are forced to settle for simple and conventional ideas, which doesn’t have to be so bad: dig the fireplace the usual way to contain fire inside, and add few large wooden chairs to ensure comfortable seating.
On top of that, you should consider also green-flecked and fluffy pillows to match the natural environment, and small tables where your guest will place their drinks.
Unique and homemade fireplaces
Image source: Cedar Springs Landscape Group
Think of what you want and what your space allows, and purchase materials that suit your budget.
At the end, you will have a unique, personal, and reasonably priced fire pit that performs its functions impeccably.
Comfy swings by the fire
There are many ways to draw attention towards your fire pit, be it its central position or the flat rocks that match the other stones in your garden, but nothing looks as homey or adds such DIY vibes as a swing hung by the curvy arbor.
Both older and younger people love patio swings, and agree there is no better position for them than close to the fire pit.
Shady flower arrangement and baskets with interesting books will make the place even cuter.
Image source: Elevation Architectural Studios
Why would a cooler spring evening force your friends to go home or retreat indoors?
Instead, you can give them a cozy outdoor area that looks hopeful and charming, and which will light and warm your backyard.
Plus, outdoor fire pits allow you to be the warm and inviting host who likes when guests are relaxed and comfortable.
A fire pit is a place where you can have pleasant chats, enjoy food, or simply spend time with your loved ones.
Styles and designs vary from simple circles to unusual DIY projects, and leave enough room for creative experiments and unique solutions.