[Landscaping] DIY How To Add Flare With A Backyard Fire Pit
Create your own fire pit to enhance your backyard landscaping this season. You can get the materials to build this from a local hardware store. Fire pits can not only provide a nice evening ambiance, but also provides a good heat source during the colder times during the year.
Outdoor fires are so hot right now. Seriously. Mankind has called the hearth home for the centuries, it’s true, but these days people are going ultra-retro and getting their heat from stone-walled pits set into the earth. And, why not? On cool summer nights, you can melt marshmallows and nibble s’mores while you lounge in an Adirondack chair, feet propped up on the rock ledge. So if you really want to light up right, do it in style. Take a few days to build your very own ring of fire.
A built-in fire pit is a glorified campfire, with sturdy walls of stone that help contain the flames and heat. That’s especially important in the parts of the country where there’s a risk of brush fires. So the first task in building any fire pit is checking local codes on open flames. The pit must be located far from overhanging trees, the house, and any other flammable structure.
To make building stone walls easier, you can use blocks made from cast concrete and molded to look like real stone (available at any home center). They’re flat on the top and bottom so they stack neatly, and some interlock for added strength. Glue them together with masonry adhesive. Choose a block with angled sides, meant to form curves when butted against each other. The optimal size for a fire pit is between 36 and 44 inches inside diameter. That will create enough room for a healthy fire but still keep gatherers close enough to chat.
As an added precaution, the fire pit should be lined with a thick steel ring like the ones used for park campfires. These protect the concrete in the blocks from the heat, which can cause them to dry out and break down prematurely.
A fire pit should sit low to the ground, with walls rising no more than a foot off the ground. But for stability, the base of the wall must be buried below ground in a hole lined with gravel, providing drainage and protecting against frost heaves in winter. the gravel also creates a level base for the stones to rest on. Most concrete blocks are about 4 inches high, so if the first course and a half sit underground, and there are two and a half courses above ground with a cap on top, you’ll end up with a foot-high wall—just right for resting your feet on while sitting in an outdoor chair.
Dry-lay a ring of blocks on the fire pit site, placing them end to end until you have a perfect circle positioned where you want the finished pit to be. To adjust the size of the circle, you may need to cut a block. Hold the block over the gap it will fill, then mark it on the underside at the proper width.
Using a 3-inch cold chisel and a brick hammer, score the block on the mark, and continue the score all the way around the block. Place the block on a hard surface (flat rocks or gravel). Hold the chisel in the score line, then hit it with the brick hammer until the block splits.
Make sure all the joints between the blocks are tight and the front and back edges line up. Using a spade, mark a circle in the ground about an inch outside the perimeter of the ring.
Take note of how many stones make up the ring, then remove them and set them aside.
If the blocks you are using are interlocking, remove any tongues on the bottom of the first-course blocks so they will lie flat in the trench. Chip them off with the tail of a brick hammer.
Clean up jagged edges with the tail of the brick hammer. Place the cut block into the ring.
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