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How to Build a DIY Fire Pit

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Looking for a perfect outdoor project to spruce up your backyard?  Learn how to build an Easy Fire Pit for your outdoor space using these simple DIY Fire Pit instructions.

It’s a perfect weekend project – you’ll be roasting s’mores in no time!

DIY Fire Pit Project

DIY Fire Pit for Your Outdoor Space:

One of the items on our never-ending to-do list was to build some sort of DIY outdoor fire pit.  We have a great outdoor area with a perfect clearing down by our dry creek bed just begging for a fire pit.

I knew it would be easy for my hubby to build a fire pit. (He loves this sort of DIY project.)

There just always seemed to be a more important project on our “list” and the Fire Pit project kept getting put off.

How to build a DIY Fire Pit

Until…  Last October, we had a multi-family camping trip. The park we stayed at had an amazing, big fire pit with lots of seating. We had such a great time with making s’mores, telling stories, and just hanging out, my hubby got motivated to get our’s done in time for our Thanksgiving gathering. (Yay!)

Building the fire pit turned out to be such an easy project, we’re not exactly sure why we waited so long to get it done!  (Easy if you don’t mind a bit of shoveling dirt and unloading retaining wall blocks, that is.)

DIY Fire Pit

I’ve written up the instructions on how we made our fire pit.  I don’t have any photos of the building process. (He actually had it almost done before I knew he started!) But this type of DIY Fire Pit is very simple and photos aren’t really necessary. 

Important Tip Before Starting the Construction of a Fire Pit:

Check your city and local codes and restrictions to find out what is required for a fire pit! (all areas are different)

As an example, part of our local code says that we are fine if we are burning for the purpose of outdoor cooking, so we always have a pack of marshmallows or hot dogs nearby.  (Plus a garden hose for safety.)

Don’t Forget the Fire Pit Accessories

We had a custom grate made by a local welder for extra safety measures and *grilling.”  Similar grate on amazon.

DIY Fire Pit Grate

And now we can cook sausage and beans to our heart’s content, redneck style of course…

How to build a diy fire pit

I searched all over the internet for just the right globe lights to hang along the path and throughout the trees.  Found them here on Amazon at a great price too!

DIY outdoor fire pit set up
how to build a fire pit

And of course, everyone needs a Telescoping S’more Roasting Stick!

How to Build a Fire Pit

diy fire pit from retaining blocks

Materials used in our DIY Fire Pit:

  • 68 12-in L x 4-in H Limestone Basic Retaining Wall Block (from Lowe’s)  This will give you a 4 foot in diameter (from outer edge to outer edge) by 12 to 16 inches tall pit. (note: This exact stone appears to be no longer in stock, but if you want a fire pit the same shape, size and look of this one, look for a 12 x 4 retaining wall stone with no lip on the back. We have moved since building this fire pit and used this product for our new one. See our new fire pit photo here.)
  • Decomposed granite, sand, or pea gravel.  You could get away with a couple of bags, but we chose to make a 14-foot diameter circle around the fire pit.  (For safety and aesthetic reasons.) We got 2 yards of crushed/decomposed granite for the circle and pathway and still had some leftover.  It was $40 per yard plus delivery.
  • optional landscape retaining wall adhesive (we found this at Lowes too.)
  • Shovels, rakes, wheelbarrow, and other misc gardening supplies, plus a very strong back
  • *update 2021 – We moved and built another fire pit. This time we added a metal fire ring to the fire pit and I love how it looks!

Fire Pit Building Instructions

Time Needed: 10-ish hours

  1. Step 1: Check your city and local codes and restrictions to find out what is required for a fire pit.
  2. Step 2: Chose an open spot, 10 to 20 feet away from trees, bushes, grass, and other flammable items.
  3. Step 3: Use a rake and or shovel to clear out grass and debris and smooth out the fire pit area.
    TIP: If you are planning to create a circular sitting area similar to ours, you might want to mark out the area first using a measuring tape and marking the ground with spray paint.  (Have someone stand in the center of the fire pit area with the end of a measuring tape and the 2nd person can walk around at the desired measurement and mark the ground in a circle.)
  4. Step 4: Layout your first layer of retaining wall bock directly on the ground.
  5. Step 5: Dig out about 4 to 6 inches of dirt from inside the fire pit circle. (You may need to dig out more or less depending on your local code.)
  6. Step 6: Stack the second and third layers of the retaining wall block.
  7. Step 7: Fill the bottom of the fire pit with  4 to 6 inches of decomposed granite, sand, or pea gravel.
  8. Step 8: Add the 4th row of the retaining wall block. We chose to glue the 4th row to the third row with landscape retaining wall adhesive.  If you do this, just follow the directions for the adhesive.
  9. Step 9: If creating a seating area, add the rest of your gravel, back-filling around the fire pit. Smooth out the gravel, add chairs, outdoor string lights and enjoy!   (We found a resin version of these chairs at loves for much less $$.)
inside view of DIY fire pit

We are marshmallow roasting pros now…

How to build a fire pit out of retaining wall blocks

Now, if after reading all that, you don’t want to go through the hassle of building your own fire pit, Amazon has a few fabulous pre-made fire pits that would work just as well for a bit more $$.

So what do you think?  Are you ready to build a fire pit?

Like this project? Don’t forget to pin it!     

Want more semi-easy DIY outdoor projects? Be sure to check these out:

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How to build a Fire Pit

Learn how to build an Easy Fire Pit for your outdoor space using these simple DIY Fire Pit instructions.

It’s a perfect weekend project – you’ll be roasting s’mores in no time!

Active Time 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours
Difficulty easy
Estimated Cost 150

Materials

  • 68 12-in L x 4-in H Limestone Basic Retaining Wall Block. This will give you a 4 foot in diameter (from outer edge to outer edge) by 12 to 16 inches tall pit.
  • Decomposed granite, sand or pea gravel.  You could get away with a couple of bags, but we chose to make a 14 foot diameter circle around the fire pit.  (For safety and aesthetic reasons.) We got 2 yards of crushed/decomposed granite for the circle and pathway and still had some left over.  It was $40 per yard plus delivery.
  • Optional landscape retaining wall adhesive 
  • Shovels, rakes, wheelbarrow and other misc gardening supplies, plus a very strong back. 🙂

Instructions

  1. Step 1: Check your city and local codes and restrictions to find out what is required for a fire pit.
  2. Step 2: Chose an open spot, 10 to 20 feet away from trees, bushes, grass, and other flammable items.
  3. Step 3: Use rake and or shovel to clear out grass and debris and smooth out fire pit area.TIP: If you are planning to create a circular sitting area similar to ours, you might want to mark out the area first using a measuring tape and marking the ground with spray paint.  (Have someone stand in the center of the fire pit area with the end of a measuring tape and the 2nd person can walk around at the desired measurement and mark the ground in a circle.)
  4. Step 4: Lay out your first layer of retaining wall bock directly on the ground.
  5. Step 5: Dig out about 4 to 6 inches of dirt from inside the fire pit circle. (You may need to dig out more or less depending on your local code.)
  6. Step 6: Stack the second and third layers of the retaining wall block.
  7. Step 7: Fill the bottom of the fire pit with  4 to 6 inches of decomposed granite, sand, or pea gravel.
  8. Step 8: Add the 4th row of retaining wall block. We chose to glue the 4th row to the third row with landscape retaining wall adhesive.  If you do this, just follow the directions for the adhesive.
  9. Step 9: If creating a seating area, add the rest of your gravel, back-filling around the fire pit. Smooth out the gravel, add chairs, outdoor string lights and enjoy!   (We found a resin version of these chairs at loves for much less $$.)

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45 Comments

  1. The block you linked can’t be the correct one. It has a lip in the rear for stacking that results in a step back on each layer. Your fire pit looks completely vertical (no setback). Also, no lips are visible on the inside of your circle. Can you check again on the name and style of the block? Thanks.

    1. Oh no, you are right, I switched out the link recently because the original stone seems to be no longer in stock. We made this fire pit in 2013 and moved in 2019. We put in another fire pit using these blocks and the black fire pit ring. I love how the ring makes the fire pit more finished-looking. (The good news is you can now order online and do store pick up and avoid having to load all of the blocks onto a cart and then into your truck, lol. Or get Truck delivery to your home for $79.)

      You can see the new photo here: https://www.scatteredthoughtsofacraftymom.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/new-fire-pit-pics.jpg
      The difference is we only needed 48 blocks and also poured a concrete pad this time around. Maybe we will get the fire pit going this weekend and I can get some new shots and update the post.

  2. What is the inside diameter of pit?
    It is lovely

  3. Amy Bergeson says:

    Can you tell me how you figured out the number of bricks you would need? We are wanting to build one that is 6 ft across and about 3 ft tall.

    1. we did not have a good method. We bought a bunch and played around with the size and shape. Once we had the 1st layer down, we were able to figure it out and made another trip to the hardware store.

  4. How do you take ashes out?

  5. What is the actual grate material? It doesn’t look food safe? I have a similar grate & mine rusted up. Can place cookware on it, but def not food. Just curious as I need a new one!

    1. Stainless steel. I will eventually rust and if you don’t feel like cleaning it every time, (or using foil/sheet pans) you’ll need to replace it at some point.

  6. Erin Mills says:

    What size grate did you guys get? I absolutely love this and am trying to figure out what size would work for us.
    Thanks!
    Erin

      1. yes, would like the opening size to buy a grate online please and thank you!

      2. I’m sorry, we sold this house so I cannot get the measurements.

  7. We’re also not loving our portable pit and this looks so easy I don’t think we can justify NOT trying it this summer! Thanks for awesome idea!

  8. I love your firepit (already pinned!). Wondering about the decomposed granite…I want to put this in our back yard, but every fall we have tons of pine needles fall. I need to be able to blow these off…is the path/sitting area hard or will the decomposed granite blow away with the needles? Thanks so much for your help! Patty

    1. Thanks! After a while the granite becomes fairly packed and would most likely weather a light blowing fairly well. (We blow our off in the spring.)
      Good luck.

  9. we make a similar type of fire pit every year and then stack the bricks up next to the house when it gets too hot again. your yard is gorgeous and i'm totally jealous of that grate!

  10. The retaining wall blocks in the linked URL are completely different from the blocks used in your fire pit. The linked blocks have a protruding lip on the inner, bottom edge that locks each row just inside the row below it and prevents them from being stacked vertically as in your pit. These are the types of blocks I've found at home improvement stores, but what I need are the blocks you used in your pit. Do you know where your blocks came from and what they are called?

    1. We bought ours at Lowes in Austin Texas. Have you been to Lowes? My hubby said next time he goes (which is several times a week,) he will get a skew #. And your lowes can look for them that way.
      ~Jamie

    2. Great. Thank you very much. I'll keep an eye out for that number if you can get it. I've only checked Lowes' website so far. I'll have to get over to the store and see if they have anything helpful to say.

  11. When you indicate that the bricks form a 4 foot circle, do you mean the inner or outer diameter?

    1. Hmm, we made this 6 months ago, so I don't remember… I will measure next time I go out there and will follow up…

  12. That turned out beyond awesome! Especially with the lights! I have plans to get around to mking one of these this summer! Thanks for linking it up at Monday Funday! Pinning!

  13. Wow, this is gorgeous!! We've been wanting to put in a firepit but we need to have ours covered because of municipal laws. I wish I knew a welder to make a grate cover for us… I'm still going to save this because if we ever find a cover, I'd love to make my own!

    1. You can search google or craigslist to find someone who does welding repair or makes/repairs iron gates. They are definitely out there. I just asked my hubby, he paid $150 for the cover to be made.
      ~Jamie

  14. Oh this looks absolutely wonderful! I wish I had the space to make something like this in my garden.

  15. I want that in my back yard! Gorgeous with the lights and the stumps… Pinning! Julia

  16. How beautiful! I love the winding path, the lights and of course the fire pit. We have a big side yard and this would be perfect. Pinning this so I can show my hubby!

  17. I love this! We don't have quite the backyard you do but we do have one of those metal fire pits and hate how small it is, and the fact that it gets rusty when my husband leaves it out. We've been wanting to do some sort of stone fire pit as well. I'm going to have to show him this! Thanks for sharing!

  18. wonderful, and i especially love it with the grill on top. i thought those were just plain bricks making up the fire pit-we have a ton of them laying around. do you think that would work, or it would have to be retaining wall blocks?

    1. You can use bricks, no problem. We used the retaining wall stones since we didn't have any bricks on hand and the retaining wall stones from Lowes are already curved, so they were super easy to lay out.
      Good luck!
      ~Jamie

  19. Stopping by from the linkup! This is amazing! My husband and I have always wanted to build our own when we move. Definitely pinning! xoxo

  20. I am LOVING this! I don't really like our portable fire pit and we've been wanting to do something fun in our yard!!!! I am going to have hubs check our local code so we maybe we can do this too!!! Thanks!

  21. This is gorgeous! We have a fire pit that needs a little tlc, so this is super inspiring! Thanks for sharing on the Take A Look Tuesday link up!