Read how our landscaping team built a sturdy backyard fire pit with a $150 budget, basic tools, and two days’ work. Watch us build ours in the video guide!
Fire pits are very much in demand during winter weather, and our client was no exception. Normally, my primary recommendation for clients interested in some old fashioned backyard heating are portable, steel-made pits.
But since this particular client wanted his pit out in the yard, we decided that a 3 ft diameter concrete/brick structure would be the better fit. I’m pleased with what we were able to create, and confident you can make one of your very own in a weekend following this guide:
Cut two 15 ft rolls of aluminum sheeting. Put the first around the outside of your stakes, duct taping the stakes to the aluminum as you go. You should end up with something like the picture below. Note that we did not have enough stakes to form the shape of our outer form, so we substituted bricks:
Duct tape the ends of your aluminum to itself, then measure your outer mold. 8 inches worked for the bricks we had, but depending on what you decide to build the wall with, you could make the base wider or narrower. We just used a brick to measure the stakes for the outer form:
When you’ve finished, you should have something like this:
You should return the next day to a well formed, sturdy foundation. Now you’re ready to begin brickwork! First, determine a pattern to follow. If you change your way halfway through, it’s tough to backtrack as the mortar dries! Place bricks as you wish them to appear WITHOUT applying mortar first:
We ended up deciding to place our bricks lengthwise parallel to the foundation, rather than perpendicular, as shown in the photo above. We did place them perpendicularly on the topmost later, but on their sides, so the holes you see on the tops of the bricks wouldn’t be on the surface on the pit wall. We ended up doing three rows of bricks in total. We wanted to build a fourth row, but ran out of bricks
When you’ve settled on your bricklaying pattern, it’s time for some masonry! You’ll use the mortar here; mortar is a tackier, pastier mixture that mixes similarly to concrete. Add enough water and mix until it reaches a doughy consistency, then use the mortar trowel to apply LIBERALLY to the foundation as you lay each brick. Fill in gaps as well as you can. We had plenty of mortar to spare, applying liberally from a 240 lb supply. Leftovers are especially nice here if you have a place to store them, in case you need to perform repairs or want to add more bricks later.
The mortar you see on top of our 2nd brick layer is residue from filling in gaps between the bricks. You won’t be able to see these gaps on the finished product, but filling them in will greatly improve the structural integrity of your fire pit.
My final takeaway from the project in a sentence: for backyards with smaller patios and decks that can’t accommodate prefabricated pits, this is a very viable option. Otherwise, you can save a lot of time/hard work (and spend about the same amount of $$) with one of these: