It's summer time and nothing says fun better than an evening around a small fire. But there's one problem: you don't have a firepit. And to add to that, you don't want to shell out $150 or more to buy a firepit in the lawn and garden section of the store. So why not make one yourself?
The most basic strategy for building an outdoor firepit is to dig it out of the ground. Before digging, call the power company and have them mark off spots where there are natural gas lines or power lines running below ground so that you don't sever the lines while digging and create a disaster. Then check with your local fire department to make sure the pit will meet the department's specifications and any city fire ordinances.
After you've made your calls, map out how you big you want the firepit. If you plan to dig up a chunk of the backyard, trying using spray paint as an outline of the perimeter you wish to dig up. You can start by digging out the perimeter and then work your way into the middle before proceeding to digging down. As for depth, it's a good rule of thumb to make the firepit at least a foot deep. You're going to want some depth to the pit as that decreases the chances of a fire breaking out due to wayward sparks. But there are other ways you can prevent sparks from igniting other objects, as discussed in the following sections.
Materials You Can Use to Contain the Fire
There are several materials you can use around the perimeter of the fire pit you've dug to keep the fire contained--something you need to do if you live within city limits. The standard metal ring is set into the ground around the perimeter of the pit, but many people also use landscape stone, boulders, field stones, pavers and/or bricks. These materials are typical for the outer ring. You might want to consider some type of wire netting to place above the open flame to contain sparks or any large hot ashes from floating away and causing a fire. You can use chicken wire or mesh wire netting. It's easier to place the wire netting if you have a proper outer ring to contain the fire.
What to Surround Your Firepit With?
People have firepits in different areas. Some choose to build patios around the pit, while others choose to build decks. Considering that most decks are made of wood and most wood is flammable, this might not be the best choice. But it's not uncommon to see a firepit in the middle of a patio. Another option is for you to landscape your yard around the firepit and add rock or sand to help keep a fire from getting out of control. For this option, you can lay plastic sheets, a tarp or even the weed control landscape fabric in an area surrounding the fire pit. After securing it into the ground, install some type of landscape border, whether it's plastic edging stones or landscape edgers. This will mark off a boundary between the yard and the fire pit area. Finally, fill the firepit area with river rock and/or sand. With these flame-retardant materials, you'll be able to stop a fire from spreading.