As fall starts and the air turns brisk, we decided we wanted to try a DIY backyard fire pit but for cheap.
Just something that would allow us to spend the evenings outside and as it turns out there is a very easy and cheap way to do just that.
The funny part was that we didn’t want to spend a lot, and this is one of the most inexpensive fire pits we have made, but aesthetically looks the best. Win!
Here is our tutorial to build your own DIY backyard fire pit in less than a day for $78 in material.
Pick Your Location
The first step is to decide where you want to put your fireplace. We spent about 30 minutes trying to come up with the perfect spot. Here is what we considered:
- In a relatively flat area of the yard
- Close to the play structure, but not too close
- Out of the way where we’d kick a ball, build a snowman, sledding, etc
- Not under any trees to lessen fire risk
- Future considerations: where might we put a shed
- Accessibility via car: the material for this project weighed ~800lbs in total, so the ability to back a car up to the exact spot was a big plus
After much deliberation, here is the spot we picked!
Prepare the space
I used a 4 ft long level to create the diameter of the circle. I wish I had just a 2×4 to 5 feet long so I had more room to work with, as I had to expand the circle a bit when it came to installation time.
Here are my three helpers!
Here is what the space should look like after you are done removing the grass and leveling the ground.
Get your Material
I went to Home Depot and got 36 four-inch height retaining wall blocks (I only used 32). Retaining wall blocks have a little lip to hold the blocks in place and keep them from moving. At the time I purchased these they were $1.98 per block.
The type of block available in your area may vary, so don’t be shy about lying out a ring in the store to see how many blocks you need to purchase per layer. This is what I did at the store to be sure I was not getting way too many or too few.
In addition to the blocks, I also purchased four bags on landscape marble stones for the floor of the fire pit. Each bag was $5. I’ve seen other guides that used square pavers for the floor.
I opted for stones instead because it’s cheaper, easier, and the floor will just become covered with ash after the fire anyway, so it doesn’t really matter. You just want a material that’ll allow for good drainage.
Be careful when transporting your material
When transporting the material home, pay attention to the cargo capacity of your vehicle. Our small SUV has a trunk capacity of 1200 lbs and the total material was roughly 800 lbs.
This cheap DIY backyard fire pit could turn expensive if you overload your vehicle and cause major damage.
Start putting the fire pit together
If you leveled your site properly, this part will go pretty fast. Start constructing your fire pit by putting the blocks in ridge side down. These blocks, when constructed in a circle, will result in each layer having a smaller inner diameter than the previous layer.
You’ll want your top layer to be tight and not have large gaps between the blocks. This means that you’ll want 1-2inch spaces between the bottom blocks.
Here is my first layer. I checked with a level before continuing.
Check your leveling as you go, it doesn’t have to be perfect but you’ll want each block to at least be level with the adjacent blocks.
As you add the second and third levels, you’ll just want to offset the blocks to give the fire pit some dimension. As I mentioned previously each level will be narrower than the previous. We actually ended up using 11 blocks for the first and second levels and only 10 blocks for the top level.
Do you need to mortar?
I didn’t feel the need to mortar anything in place as it felt very sturdy. You could mortar the fire pit together if you really wanted, but I liked not using mortar because it’s cheaper, easier, and gives more flexibility down the road if you ever want to move it or repair a cracked block.
Add your floor
Once you’re happy with the location, leveling, and the spacing of your blocks, add your landscape stone as the floor. We ended up needing just 3 bags ($15 total).
Backfill your dirt and repair your grass
If you built into a slope like we did, then backfill the dirt you excavated into the cracks around the fire pit. We used the grass we dug out to build up the high side of the fire pit to flatten it out a bit.
We’ll be adding some grass seed to repair the area around it to make the area sturdy and look nice. I’ve seen other guides that use stone or pavers around the fire pit so that you can easily mow around it.
This is definitely a good idea, but for us we already have to use the weed whacker around the play structure near by, so it’s only an extra minute or so to weed whack the grass around the fire pit as well.
Grab a drink, make a fire and enjoy!
Now we have a place to have outdoor fires this fall. As you can see, we have a lot of scrap wood to burn from projects around the house.
DIY backyard fire pit for cheap
Hopefully by sharing how we made a backyard fire pit, you can use this as inspiration to make your own firepit.
After you decided where to put your backyard fire pit, start digging. Once your spot is level, all you need to do is grab paver blocks and landscape stone bags. Put it all in place and you can start using it right away.
Overall, the project took less than a day and costed us $78 in materials. It looks good and gives us a way to enjoy the upcoming cooler evenings outside.