Some DIY’s make dreams come true. I was on the lookout for a backyard with “fire pit vibes” when we bought this house in May 2023. After months of prepping and planting grass first, we’re ready to finally install a DIY backyard fire pit!
One of the main reasons we chose this house was because of all the potential of the backyard. We’ve never had a big, open space for a yard before.
And despite the state of it when we bought it, we could envision building this yard out for our family and enjoying it in every stage with our kids.
The grass seed we planted in early August is finally filling in and is ready to be walked on. It takes about 2 years for a new lawn to mature. But it is already so much more enjoyable to be out there!
In an effort to tempt ourselves to spend more time outside, we designed this DIY backyard fire pit and installed it in less than a day.
Tools & Materials
Time Needed: 2 Hours
- Construction Adhesive
- Paver Sand
- Pavers Of Choice
- Mini Flagstone Bricks
- Black, Stainless Steel Fire Ring
- Rock Fill (Gravel)
- Pea Gravel
Repurposing An Old Walkway
First things first, I removed an old walkway in our yard that was full of weeds, glass, debris, and random pavers.
We repurposed the matching pavers that were in good condition to create the border under the fire pit.
Then we bought a seamless, stainless steel, black fire ring that was in stock at Lowe’s. You can find them on Amazon or other outdoor stores, but this was the best one we could find in stock.
Nathan intentionally avoided the fire rings that come with multiple pieces to assemble. They don’t look quite as nice, even though they’re a bit cheaper.
Next, we found these Mini Flagstone Bricks from Lowe’s to use around the fire ring. I loved the weathered look and the warmer blue and tan tones. These also come in a gray color tone, and in a bigger size!
While we were in the store, I took a handful off the shelf and placed them in a circle to get a feel for which size I wanted, and how many rows we’d need.
We loaded up the back of our car with way too many of these because we’re bad at math, and then had to decide which spot in our yard we wanted to build it.
Choosing The Perfect Spot
Our city code states that a fire ring needs to be 15ft from structures and plot lines. We debated putting the ring way out in the back of the yard to make it feel more isolated from houses. But it would majorly interrupt the grassy open space we have, and it was important to us to keep that open for playing for our kids.
Ultimately we placed it about 15ft away from our house, deck, and fence line, tucked away in the front of our yard.
Someday when we replace our old deck, we’d like to build out a patio that would extend from the deck, around the fire pit, and to the corner by the fence so we can install a hot tub too.
This placement will be perfect for that future project!
Prepping The Soil
We measured 1 foot around the fire ring using a tape measure. Nathan marked in the dirt with the shovel while I held the tape measure, moving around the whole fire ring.
Next, Nathan dug 1-2″ into the dirt, cutting out a circle in the grass.
Because we still have some dirt patches in the yard, we transplanted this sod next to our patio. This was the perfect way to build up the soil grade here since it was too low after taking out the old walkway.
Next, we raked the soil level and packed down the dirt.
Then, we added paver sand. This helps stabilize the pavers so they don’t wiggle around. It also helped us make them all even in height, making it look so much nicer in the end.
It’s recommended to use a tamper like this to compact the material, but we don’t own one. We just jumped on the pavers a few times once they were placed, ha. I’ll keep you posted how that turns out over time!
Creating The Border
Next, we added the old walkway pavers in a circle border as best we could. We filled in with sand underneath and around them to stabilize them as much as possible.
It looks like our pavers are really similar shape to this mold. I wonder if a previous owner DIY’d them? Either way, if you’re looking for a similar style to ours, this could be an option!
I wanted some kind of border to add another layer of dimension to the design.
But it’s also practical so we can set our feet on it. Eventually, the fire pit will be incorporated into a patio that we can comfortably set chairs around. This is just the first step towards that vision.
We set the fire ring over the border to ensure all the bricks would be supported. We added some more paver sand between the cracks for good measure.
Adding The Brick
Next, we stacked the mini flagstone bricks in three rows and added the fire ring in the middle.
I did offset layers with each row (see below). We overestimated how many bricks we’d need and ended up with a lot extra. Three rows felt like the perfect height to stop at.
The fire ring was elevated a few inches from the ground, and there’s enough airflow between the bricks to keep the fire going well.
You want to have some airflow into the center of the fire pit for the flames to get enough oxygen to stay lit.
According to the instructions we were following, you should use construction adhesive on each brick to secure them together.
We decided to skip this step for now. When our foundation gets repaired this fall, it’s possible our yard will get torn up during the process. We may need to temporarily remove this fire pit so they can place wall braces throughout the yard to support our foundation.
We’re told they’ll have to dig 10ft from house to place anchors a few feet into the ground to help our stabilize our leaning basement wall.
Once that repair is finished, we’ll make this DIY backyard fire pit permanent!
The Final Touches
At this point it was looking WAY better than I imagined! I was determined to get this project 100% done, because that almost never happens in this house.
I had promised our kids s’mores at the end of the day. Motivation was high!
Next, we filled the center with rock up to the black fire ring. We’re planning to remove a lot of extra river rock in our backyard anyway. So we just repurposed some from the side of the house. You can use gravel like this too!
This helps maintain the ash at the bottom of the fire pit. It also protects the exposed brick around the ring, improves air flow underneath the fire, and elevates the wood from any pooling water on the ground.
Finally, I filled in the cracks between the pavers with pea gravel.
I kept it between the pavers only, and not on the outside edge (see below). I want to minimize how much pea gravel will get mixed into the grass. This felt like the right way to do it for us.
The grass and soil will fill in nicely around the outside of the border eventually.
Ta-da! A beautiful DIY backyard fire pit built start to finish in an afternoon! Most of these elements were repurposed or purchased from Lowe’s in stock the same day.
We absolutely love how it turned out.
There’s sooo much more to do back here, but we’ve made major progress since we’ve moved in. These are some of the photos I snagged between when we viewed the house while it was for sale, right before closing, and when we moved in.
Sometimes I can’t believe we chose this home, especially when I look back at these photos. But I know we could envision what it could be. A huge, open space for our family to enjoy.
We’re slowing making our way through every part of the yard–planting grass, adding flower beds, removing debris and rusty metal edging. Slowly but surely this yard will be an incredible space for our family.
I’m so proud of the work we’ve done so far! I can’t wait to watch this space only get better from here.
This DIY backyard fire pit is one step closer to our dream backyard!
This was an easy afternoon DIY that our family is really going to enjoy for years to come. Anything to help us spend more time outside, and remind us to slow down.
(TIP: You can order a Fire Pit kit like this to make it even easier!)