How to Make and Maintain a Backyard Fire Pit

Adding a fire pit to your home can enhance its appeal. Whether you choose to put one in your backyard or your front yard, it is a welcome addition to your residence. Buying a fire pit is one option, built-in fire pits offer a custom look, and making your own fire pit can really be as simple or complex as you want; you can choose materials that complement the style of your home, including slate pavers and steel, or choose something different that really pops. If you want to do it yourself, you can make a fire pit from scratch, or buy a set ($325,, which will save you time and effort because everything you need is already included. Next, we'll break down the key steps to creating your own fire pit and offer advice on how to maintain your fire pit so it lasts for years to come.

Choose a safe place.

"Be aware of your surroundings," says Emily McGee of the Fireplace, Patio and Barbecue Association. "Make sure there are no overhanging branches or other flammable materials nearby." The pit should be at least 20 feet from buildings, wooden fences, decks and hedges. It should provide some wind protection to avoid smoke problems. Consult your town's building code for specific guidelines for your area.
Determine a style.

There are a variety of materials that can be used to build a fire pit retaining wall, including stone, brick and precast concrete. Once you've decided which you like best, you'll need to decide on a style. A round pit requires trapezoidal blocks; a square uses rectangular blocks. Most fire pits are built with three to four rows of blocks, McGee says, and they should be built on a fireproof surface like stone or brick, not a flammable object like wood.
Gather what you need to prepare the area.

For a project like this, your materials will vary depending on the type of fire pit you choose to create. At a minimum, you will need gravel, rocks or bricks, metal rings, adhesive, and shutters. Once you have marked the location, remove the grass and dirt 2 inches deep. Create a solid gravel base and tamp it down to make sure the ground is level. Add more gravel and tamp down again.

Put down the first row of blocks, using the level to keep everything at the same height; you also want to make sure they all touch each other. Place the metal ring in the center of the pit to make sure it fits; the metal ring will help the stones stay in place longer and not dry out. If so, go ahead and place a second row of squares.
Glue the blocks together.

When you feel that everything fits, remove the top row of blocks and add adhesive to the bottom of each block, then place them back on the lower blocks. Put the rings back inside.
Get ready to enjoy.

Fill the pit with lava before adding the fire starter. Once the fire starts, add firewood. McGee says: "For wood-burning fire pits, use only dry wood to reduce smoke."

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