7 Steps to Make a Backyard Fire Pit at Your Rental Home

by Morgen Henderson | Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Fire pits are fun to have and can make your backyard a fun place to hang out. Many people enjoy making and eating s'mores while sitting around a fire, while others are simply happy to cozy up with their loved ones and enjoy being together around the warm flame.

If you want a fire pit to enjoy with your friends and family, you can build one yourself! Just be sure to check with your landlord before starting to make sure they're OK with it and be sure you know the logistics of what it will require. Here's how to make a backyard fire pit so you can start making new memories.

Tools and materials to make your backyard fire pit

  • Shovel
  • Trowel
  • Tamp
  • Bricks or stones (make sure they're flat so they can stack)
  • Gravel
  • Tape measure
  • Level

Building a backyard fire pit in 7 easy steps

You can create your backyard fire pit in just a few hours with some careful planning and a moderate amount of physical labor. Simply follow these seven steps and you'll be enjoying s'mores by the fire in no time.

how to build a backyard fire pit infographic

1. Measure it out

Start by measuring out the space where you want to have a fire pit. Use the tape measure to decide what size you want your fire pit. Typically, you'll want it at least three feet across, but four or five feet in diameter is ideal. Then, you'll want to make sure there's plenty of room on all sides of the pit so that people can stand around it or pull up a chair and not get burned — measure the clearance of at least three feet on all sides for safety reasons.

2. Make an outline

Use a trowel and dig up an outline for the size and shape of your fire pit. Most fire pits are round, however, you can make a square, hexagon or different shape (just keep in mind you'll be putting brick up in this design, so don't make it too complicated).

You may end up adjusting your outline a little bit as you go, which is fine. If you're worried about messing up, start out digging the outline a little smaller than you actually want it and gradually work outward to make it bigger.

3. Remove the grass

Once you're happy with your outline, you'll take your larger shovel and dig up the rest of the grass inside of it. Dig at least six to eight inches into the ground to give your fire pit a good foundation and try to keep the bottom as level as possible (but it's OK if it's not perfectly level — you'll fix it later).

4. Pack it in

Use the tamp to pack down the dirt inside the fire pit. This will give you a more stable, flat surface to build on. If you don't have a tamp, you can just use the back of a shovel to compact the dirt. Use your level and make sure it's as even as possible. If needed, you can add a little bit of dirt in the uneven spots and pack it down to level it all out.

5. Add the bricks

Now that you have a good, even base, you'll start adding bricks or stones. Make sure they're flat on both sides and can stack up safely without falling over. Stack bricks up along the outermost part of the pit (don't put any in the center), then build up the walls by adding more layers of bricks. Use your level to periodically check to make sure it's all staying level. You'll want the walls of your fire pit at least 18 inches tall for safety but can go higher if you want.

6. Pour in the gravel

Once your fire pit has walls, you'll dump some gravel into the bottom of it. You'll want at least six inches of gravel in the bottom, but don't add too much, or else you'll have a giant pit of rocks and not enough room to contain the fire. Spread the gravel around and make it as level as you can.

7. Light a fire!

Now that you've got a pit that will safely contain your fire, grab some firewood and get a fire going! Then, you can roast marshmallows and start hanging out around the warmth of the fire.

backyard fire pit

Fire safety tips for your fire pit

Fire is dangerous if not properly contained and cared for. Having a fire in a pit is one way to help contain it, but there are a few other precautions you should take when lighting a fire.

  • Have a fire extinguisher on hand in case something goes wrong so you can put it out
  • Keep paper, cotton and other flammable materials away from the open flame to avoid it accidentally catching on fire
  • Be careful about how much wood you add to the fire — more wood means a bigger flame, which is harder to control. Be cautious about how much wood you're adding.
  • Don't leave the fire unattended, even if it's only for a minute
  • Completely put out the fire before leaving the pit. Use water to put it out or dirt to smother it so that no new flames can startup.

These are easy ways to keep your fire from going places it shouldn't go and protect yourself (and your home). The best way to fight fire is to prevent it!

Cozy up by the fire

A fire pit can add a lot of value to your entertainment space and it creates a great gathering space. Make safety a priority to keep yourself and your family out of harm's way and you shouldn't have any issues! Enjoy making memories around a warm fire with the ones you love.

Categories: Renters

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