A backyard fire pit can extend your outdoor fun late into the fall. Cool autumn evenings are a perfect match for the warm glow of a flickering fire. Almost as perfect a match as marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers! Even teenagers enjoy spending time with family when a fire and s’mores are involved.
From inexpensive, do-it-yourself fire pits to elaborate custom designed spaces there is a backyard fire pit for everyone. In this article, we will be focusing on three simple and affordable backyard fire pits that will have your family huddled around for laughs without breaking the bank.
Let’s get started…
3 Affordable Backyard Fire Pits
Repurposed Metal Ring
To kick us off, let’s talk about the tried-and-true, repurposed metal ring fire pit. This way of enjoying an outdoor fire is a classic. It stirs up feelings of nostalgia, as this is the only way most of us recall roasting marshmallows as a kid.
You can repurpose many different items into a fire pit. For example, a cut-down 50-gallon drum, an old wheelbarrow, an over-sized cast iron pot, left-over corrugated steel, etc. Take a page from the older generations and use what you have to create something special.
Please use caution when cutting metal. Contact a professional to turn your trash into treasure.
If you have the good fortune to have access to some large rocks on your property, you can build a natural rock fire pit. Rocks found along a stream or creek bed, or in an exposed hillside will make a beautiful addition to your outdoor space.
This option won’t break the bank; however, it might break your back so be careful when moving these large stones into place. Enlisting the help of a friend or, better yet, a friend with a tractor and bucket is a good idea. You’ll need to move and rearrange these stones to get them to fit just right. This is your chance to show off your Tetris skills. Don’t forget to leave several gaps along the bottom so the fire can breathe.
This type of design should not go more than two rows high. It should be steady and solid. If not, add mortar between the rocks for the safety of everyone gathered around your fire pit.
Retaining Wall Blocks
Without a doubt, this is the most popular DIY fire pit around. The versatile retaining wall blocks gives your home-improvement project a polished, professional look. Home improvement stores, as well as your local landscape companies have a plethora of these pre-formed concrete pavers that are perfect for building a backyard fire pit. It’s a good idea to check your space to see what size fire pit your space can use before heading to the store. The angled pavers come in several sizes, so it’s important to have your circumference minimum/maximum planned out.
If you love sitting around a fire, but not the smoke from the fire, you might be interested in a smokeless fire pit. YouTube has many tutorials on making a smokeless retaining wall fire pit, but we really like this example by Jon Chan.
If your aesthetic calls for linear lines, you can find rectangular shaped blocks as well. This flexible style can be laid out to any size fire pit your space calls for making it very customizable.
No matter which DIY fire pit you like, having the surrounding area prepped and ready for a flame is key. We suggest using a stone ground covering such as our Decorative Pea Pebbles, Premium White Marble, or Small Arctic Rainbow, etc. around the perimeter of your fire pit. This will reduce the risk of igniting nearby brush by eliminating the flammable material. Wilson Blacktop has a large selection of rock that could be used around the fire pit.
Speaking of safety, we have pulled together a few ideas to consider when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of your family when using a fire pit. All the ideas above are pointless if you don’t follow some safety guidelines. It only takes one mistake to go from any enjoyable evening to a tragic event.
It’s always a good idea to check your local weather conditions before lighting your firepit. If a high wind is forecast, you might want to skip the fire. It doesn’t take a very strong wind to blow embers or sparks into nearby brush or buildings starting a fire. Placing your firepit in an area with a natural windbreak, if possible.
You can burn any of the debris that has fallen on your property from standing trees, but keep in mind that not all trees burn the same way. Hardwoods like oak, hickory or cherry are ideal fire fuel. Softer woods like pine, cedar, and spruce are acceptable, but they produce more smoke and spark more than their hardwood relatives.
You should never burn construction wood. It can be treated with chemicals that can release toxic fumes when burned. So, stay away from plywood, MDF, wood pallets, or treated lumber for your evenings around the fire pit.
It seems kind of obvious, but it is not always at the front of mind when gathering friends for a night fire. A class B or C fire extinguisher can keep things from getting out of control in a worst-case scenario.
Of course, there are times when a fire extinguisher is overkill. For small issues a bucket of water close by will do the trick. Also, a shovel of dirt can put out some rouge flames.
If someone’s clothing catches fire, remember what we all learned in elementary school; Stop-Drop-Roll. Be sure to teach this to any children that are around your fire.