How to Make a Garden Fire Pit

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Making a garden fire pit can be very simple or highly complex. Most people decorate the area around their fire pits to fit their personal tastes and build their fire pits the same way.  The basic steps involved in building an in-ground garden fire pit allow you to expand and incorporate you own design ideas into the project.

Moderate Experience Required

We are going to presume that you have a working knowledge of basic carpentry and concrete working tools, and have already assembled the required materials. For best results, we recommend using a concrete truck delivery rather than mixing bags of cement.

Pit Layout

Decide where the exact center of the fire pit will be, and drive a stake into that spot. Leave around 12 inches of stake protruding from the ground. Drive a nail part way into the top of the stake. Tie a string loosely to the nail so it can rotate around the nail. Measure out 1/2 the total width of the fire pit, and mark the string with a permanent marker. Hold the mark on the string between your thumb and a spray can of marking paint, pull the string tight and spray a circle around the central stake. This will mark the soil area you need to remove.

Dig the Pit

Try to keep the sides as vertical as possible when digging your garden fire pit. Be careful not to collapse the edges, and dig down to a depth between 1 to 2 feet. The floor of the pit should slope slightly toward the center. In the exact center, dig a hole that is 18 inches square, 6 inches deep, and has a flat bottom. Use a foundation tamper to pack the floor of the pit.

Concrete or Steel

You may purchase a commercial steel fire pit, modify the opening to fit, and place the pit in the ground, or continue building a concrete fire pit. The steel pit is faster and easier, and may even be less expensive, but it won't offer you the sense of accomplishment of building your own.

Notes on Concrete Fire Pits

If you select a concrete pit, pour the surface at least 1 1/2 inch thick, with 2 to 3 inches being optimal. You may want to install steel stakes to support a spark screen or grilling surface before pouring the concrete. If you are not comfortable forming the vertical sides, you can slope them slightly. The concrete surface should be smooth so it can be easily cleaned with a shovel and broom between uses. Form the pit and apron as separate pieces to reduce the possibility of cracking.

Decorate the Area

Decorate the area around the fire pit to match your desired theme. Include seating and fire safety devices as well as subdued lighting for nighttime gatherings. How you decorate the area around your fire pit is up to you, and can make the area very practical or turn it into a complete party or family recreation area.

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